The Real Story About Kony 2012 - Huffington Post article by USIP's Sheldon Himelfarb

"Rather than disparage the video and its makers, as if we'd like it to disappear as breathtakingly fast as it appeared, I hope teachers in classrooms and families at dinner tables will take this opportunity to discuss these issues about which most of us are woefully ignorant -- from the abuse and suffering of children in war to the role of the West in Africa's tortured history."

Click here to read "The Real Story About Kony 2012" an article written by Sheldon Himelfarb, the Director of two Centers of Innovation at USIP: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding & Science Technology and Peacebuilding.

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Comment by henry on March 26, 2012 at 7:04am

Thank you for raising such an important issue, Well I would say that the media brings it whole but we should consider some accuracy while posting some information. Let us consider Kony 2012 as a pilot project, the role of media can bring it whole. Involving the media, social network could at least bring some awareness hence being a tool to reach the world. We can bring down all criminal acts using the media. Thank you guys for this discussion 


Comment by Jonathan White on March 21, 2012 at 1:27pm

Here's a blog on data visualization for Kony2012. Pretty interesting.

Comment by laura simms on March 21, 2012 at 12:07pm

will watch the documentary.  I am trying to learn as much as I can about generating open conversations..   thank you

Comment by Libby and Len Traubman on March 21, 2012 at 10:45am

Laura, thank you.  The classroom you visited that explored multiple narratives was a extaordinary, contemporary example of what's needed among humankind.  Another living example among African young adults is modeled in the new 2012 documentary film on cost-free DVDs:

DIALOGUE IN NIGERIA: Muslims & Christians Their Future


Comment by Jonathan White on March 21, 2012 at 10:19am

Thank you Sheldon for your article. I believe you raise some very good questions, and one that has preoccupied my thoughts is what role can social networking and viral videos more specifically play in international peacebuilding processes? Given that in many of the locations we work (at least in the so-called 'Third World' or world system periphery), internet access can be limited or difficult to access on a regular basis, what role do such techniques have in our peacebuilding practices? 

But maybe I am jumping ahead too quickly. I am assuming that the majority of viewers of the Kony video are Global North/world system core state residents. Is this in fact the case? It could be very informative to see a map of how #Kony2012 has interacted with the world through the internet--the locations of the video viewers. You could even take this one step further and map how those viewers shared the video with others.

In any case, thank you for raising these thoughtful questions.  

Comment by laura simms on March 21, 2012 at 10:17am

I have been visiting high schools in the US during  the last month (while on tour) because of my relationship to Ishmael Beah.  Young people are reading his book , A Long Way Gone.  Because I am his mother, the one who brought him out of Sierra Leone to get an education,  there is  great interest in hearing  my experiences.  It is  equally moving  for me to hear students' questions.   Lately the conversation  moves quickly to KONY 2012.  I want to add to  what is being discussed in Mr. Himelfarb's  essay  -  not only can students learn about the complex root causes of violence and the ongoing use of child soldiers - but they can  have a strong dialogue about the use of media.. about the effect of something edited and  presented as fact that has huge emotional impact (this is one of the ways fascism and genocide become tolerated - as well as how it can generate awareness and social action).  The last class I visited in rural Illinois had a brilliant approach that  explored historical fact, complex issues of aggression and war and the role of the media.   By making their exploration not about who is right or what is true - but by looking at the writings of both sides they engaged in  a conversation (and a lived experience) about the responsibility, nature and power of media, and the way we tell our stories. This kind of conversation can begin the process of providing  building blocks to gain the "capacity" for discernment, deep reflection, and recognition of the need to hear all sides before taking a leap into reaction.  Without that capacity we will not have prepared our young people to engage in reconciliation or mediation (even within themselves and with each other). 

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