Bad guys, good guys, and the people in between

I won’t share the video that many of my fellow bloggers reacted to today. Because of its slick production value, Invisible Children’s Kony2012 campaign will get plenty of attention without a link from me.

I did attempt to watch the whole video, but I have to confess that I stopped when Invisible Children’s founder asks his 3-year-old to explain who the “bad guys” are and what daddy does, i.e. he goes after them. The simplistic narrative of heroes and villains – this, among other things, has always been a big concern with Invisible Children’s work. How well has the bad guys vs. good guys paradigm ever really served the world?

The most disturbing part of the film is an intensely emotional moment in the film when a Ugandan young man, Jacob, breaks down and the narrator (the founder) promises to help. It’s heartbreaking for me. Not only because of Jacob’s story of how much he misses his slain brother (though the intimacy of that moment makes me really wonder if we should be watching at all), but more so the founder’s inability to just “stay” with Jacob in that dark, low, hard moment.

Instead, he jumps in and assures him that he will fix it.

What does this say about the organization's approach? Read on (including the vibrant comments section) at:

Photo by Joop Rubens

Views: 512

Tags: Accountability, Africa, Arab, British, Canada, Children, Coalition, Columbia, Invisible, Kona2012, More…Mindfulness, NGOs, Northern, Spring, Uganda, University, advocacy, aid, conflict, for, international, of, peacebuilding


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Comment by Gilda Bettencourt on March 9, 2012 at 5:25am

Thank you, Jennifer, for the excellent work you do encouraging folks to consider the "how" of aid. From what I have been reading on your blog and especially because of what you shared in this posting, I think you will appreciate Nonviolent Peaceforce, which does not work in the area of aid, but focuses on human security.  You may already be familiar with NP, but, if not, her is an update that came out today.  Also fits nicely with International Women's Day: Women Taking The Lead In South Sudan.

Comment by Jennifer Lentfer on March 8, 2012 at 9:33pm

For me, no matter what the issue, the best way to help is to seek out grassroots organizations that are working on the ground and will not be going away, whether funding is available or not. I suggest taking a look at GlobalGiving to find them! I also blogged on this today for International Women's Day:

Comment by Lina Beydoun on March 8, 2012 at 5:12pm

I could not agree with you more. I thought I was the only one who noticed this dichotmoy. I also couldn't help but see this as another 'Let's Save Africa' and 'White Man's Burden' syndrome.

In contrast, one of the PBS Women, War and Peace series on how Liberian women collectively mobilized for peace in Liberia and eventually brought to office the first female president in Africa is a breath of fresh air.  

Comment by Nataša Vlah on March 8, 2012 at 10:09am

I generally agree with you, but mybe the founder you discribed here just wasn't enaugh tranined for the emotionally crisis situations, specially when children are involved. It's mater of staff psychosocial tranining and education.

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