Thursday, 8 March 2012

The importance of being earnest: why Kony is not a black and white issue.

"I will be as harsh as truth, and uncompromising as justice .. I am in earnest, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch. And I will be heard." - William Lloyd Garrison

Years ago, in my favourite rehab ever, we had theory once a week instead of group therapy. SUCH a relief. Each Friday we'd sit in front of the whiteboard set up in the dining room and listen to statistics on getting and staying clean, as well as the varying models of whether alcoholism and addiction was a disease.

This kind of blew my mind open. And whenever my mind gets blown open, I show it. I'd sit right up the front and nod, furiously. I'd take notes, man. NOTES. IN REHAB. This information was astounding to me - and important. I was learning things about myself and how I ticked that I never knew before - really valuable shit. What if I wasn't the worlds biggest arsehole after all? What if I *could* get better?

After a few weeks of this, the therapist had had enough. "Ok Eden, you can stop with the act now."

I was so shocked. And confused. What act?

"You keep sitting there, mocking this session. I've had it. Stop it or leave."

It took me five bumbling minutes to explain that it wasn't an act - I was completely and genuinely interested in learning about what makes me tick. I knew she didn't believe me. Years later she believed me, when she saw my beaming face as I pushed my newborn baby in a stroller.

It's taken me a while to realise that I am an earnest person. It confuses people, then disarms them. I like to ask questions, be passionate and vocal about what I believe in.

Yesterday, my 14 year old stepdaughter came to me and asked if I had heard about the Kony video. I hadn't. She told me how cool it was and how she was going to get involved with her friends in April. I watched the video, and was so roused that I posted it here - and I never post twice in one day.

Then I tweeted it, and posted it on Facebook as well. It was going ballistic by that stage. Then, the negative press and tweets started streaming in. I realised that I had just completely put my weight behind something I don't really know that much about - certainly had never heard of the Invisible Children foundation before.

I wondered if I'd done the wrong thing. I've since read conflicting reports about it this morning, questioning the motives of the charity and the film makers. There is no doubt that that film is BRILLIANT. So well shot. So emotive. Is it a little too slick? Maybe. Does the guy have brown hair in one shot and then blonde in another? Yes. Why is he dying his hair? I don't know. Does it matter?

Do I think this film and global mission is suspect and driven by alterior motives of money-hungry fame? Gee I hope not.

It's easy to get cynical about things we see and read theses days, especially when the whole world is at our fingertips. It's easy to take potshots at people who are trying to make a difference, who are idealistic and who believe in the greater good of humanity. What I really like about the Kony video is the active engagement and involvement of young people. Facebook is a powerful entity, whether we like it or not. These teens have been on the front line of this technological revolution for a few years now. Quietly joining mindless meme after mindless meme. Every day our children get bombarded with images and ads and meaningless garbage and nobody says anything. Along comes a powerful thing they can link up to and feel a part of - and it's not even about the latest jeans campaign. It's something really quite important. I like that .. I remember what it feels like to be sixteen years old, realising for the first time how meaningless and futile this world was. Powerless.

This Kony movement is polarising but man, I hope it ends up good in the end. I hope they catch him and I hope it's made a difference and I hope young African children are spared the same fate as those before them. I hope Jason Russell really is the good guy.

I believe in teaching our kids that they have a voice. To not just sit there passively, waiting for life to happen to them. To make a goddamn difference, in the big issues as well as the small. To care.

I'm earnest and idealistic like that.


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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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