Saturday, 31 March 2012

Joining the dots

The last few weeks have felt particularly sluggish. Nothing specific and yet almost right across the board except in one notable area: show me an empty chariot for someone else's cause or business and I am right on in there. Never mind that my own life and income is sad and wilting, that I am feeling tired and miserable and sorry for myself. If there is something that I can do to help and the cause is worth the effort then I am leaping aboard with little hesitation. It strikes me that I am good for other people and at times quite questionable to myself.

It is a facet of me and how I operate which I know I do not want to eliminate so I do not think I will ever really change on that score: I just like to help and be useful. Like a lot of us really.

These days I am not feeling too fond of the ideology of karma, that what you do unto others comes back to you. Simply because too many bad things keep happening to good people and this is not stacking up too well in my mind. Karma might be useful when thinking about some sort of cosmic law for the bad things people do but it seems less and less relevant when the argument is flipped.

Perhaps when I take up the reins of someone else's chariot I am escaping my own life - that is the usual sub-conscious reasoning. Or perhaps I am looking for some sort of magic wand that will make everything right for me if I help make things right for other people?

After these last weeks and months of treacle could it be that somehow I have managed a double backflip with a triple twist landing with a certain amount of aplomb? The wheels are in motion in my life once again and I am very hopeful. Hope and Faith should have been my middle names as these seem irrepressible despite layers of depression heaped upon at times. Instead of me having to battle away, a proposition has come knocking on my door and one which I very much welcome. It would combine me riding someone else's chariot with being able to ride my own. A neat little answer to a business conundrum. It all feels good, looks good and sounds good. I don't have to work by myself, and will have the structures of someone else's enterprise combined with bringing in my own speciality and being able to develop.

It is a shot of confidence. I can see myself receiving substantial cheque payments for excellent services rendered. A win-win situation. This weekend should see something developing as long as I keep clear headed and provide information needed for a targeted email. Next week may start bearing fruit, or maybe it will become apparent in due course.

As ever in my life, I am aware of another big change or development and the fanfares that surround it. I am aware that in the past things have changed quite drastically and what was, no longer is. Just like that. Perhaps it is like being in a clothes shop and trying on different outfits, liking something so much thinking this is "the" outfit, only to take it off and hang it back up again. Maybe that is all it is and maybe that is an OK approach to life and I have been just too serious about it all.

My life is exciting and interesting, but then whose isn't in their own ways? There are amazing people in my life and I have been blessed on that score. Also, somewhere in my life there must be an attic with my picture because here I am in my 50th year and for some reason I am looking better than I feel I have ever looked. Which is pretty darned useful since I am now working in the beauty industry. Sure I am aging and could do with some better skincare, but on the whole, I can still get by without makeup and usually do though am transformed with a lick of powder and brow colour and lippy.

It is coming up to a year since my mother died, not yet, but soon. This is a new landmark in my life. This week I went to the funeral of a child and the wails of his mother were piercing. Another friend's son who was lost is finally found. So naturally I think about my own son and my own shortness with him over various issues and how I should be grateful my son is neither dead nor lost. Then magically out of the blue something shifts. He communicates. And now, he has landed a job with which he is happy and is good for his confdence. He starts next Monday. Oh please let this work out for him too.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Are we creating a monster with Kony 2012?

When I first watched the Kony 2012 video I noticed it was 30 minutes long and had to switch it off for another time though watched it long enough to hear the interesting snippet stating that there were more people on Facebook than there were alive across the world two hundred years ago. Food for thought.

This morning, when I could have laid in bed a bit longer except the postie woke us on the doorbell, I watched Kony 2012 and was captured. It is slick, well produced from a visual and audio point of view and well, simplistic. It is made by a US Non Governmental Organisation Invisible Children and has a call to action to sign the petition to the US government; share the video and amongst other activities to "Cover the night" on April 20th - again aimed at across the US. It is compelling and I felt like I wanted to do my bit, to share and to spread the word. My finger hovered over the Facebook button and the desire to share, but I also wanted to know more.

Previously I had heard about the African child soldiers but hadn't really absorbed it. The Kony 2012 video made me look a bit further. Back in the 1990s I remember the genocides in Eastern Europe and how I had misguidedly thought we couldn't possibly have another genocide in this world, that we wouldn't let it happen, and then news was coming out - it looked like a genocide, it sounded like a genocide but at first it wasn't called a genocide. And I did nothing. All my public outrage did nothing constructive and then after the event it is called a genocide and we had let it happen.

What could we do when faced with this news? All comfortable and cosy to some extent in our lives. The Kony 2012 video has a very interesting inverted triangle logo and explains how traditionally we have money and power at the top pointy area of the triangle but that with the power of the masses at the widest part of the triangle the balance of power could be shifted. How we can make a difference by being aware and making a noise. This is, I think, a very powerful message to us all. And I one I think, despite the critics of the Kony 2012 video, we would do well to remember.

In my search to find out a bit more, such that one can from our ability to hit a few buttons on a search engine and to eat whatever one is served up, I find some useful critiques. WarChild has a response which suggests the video is about five years too late and that much has already been done. It compliments the makers of Kony 2012 for bringing this issue to the masses in such a short period of time, and in a way is sorry they were not able to do that in all the years they have been going. They reiterate this is still ongoing though and much still needs to be done especially in helping with the rehabilitation of those involved.

National Geographic has a post from a writer View from North Uganda which refers to a former child soldier Anywar Ricky who is now a director of a local Ugandan organisation Friends of Orphans. Mr Ricky says that he is concerned that the work of the Ugandan government, it's own local organisations and Peace Talks in 2006 are sidelined in the Kony 2012 video and that much good has already been done. After all, Kony is said to already be out of Uganda and operating in nearby countries instead!  This article also recognises the good the Kony 2012 video brings by focusing on the issues but asks that the focus is on building a better Uganda.

The Independent blogs has one from Musa Okwonga titled, Stop Kony, yes, But don't stop asking questions  in which he talks about the irrelevance of this campaign to a country where Kony is already gone. He talks about the simplicity of the Kony 2012 video and asks us to question the role of others such as the President Museveni who has been in power as long as Kony has been in action. After all, if our Prime Minister Cameron had this sort of atrocity going on during his watch he would not still be in power over twenty years later.

Some Christian writers have criticised the Kony 2012 video saying that it is not for us to seek revenge and that retribution is in the hands of the Lord. Ultimately, maybe so, but should we turn a blind eye in the mean time. Reminds me of the "joke" regarding a flood and a person climbing on the roof of their house and when a boat comes along to save them refuses to get on board saying my Lord will save me and then another vehicle comes to help and is refused on the same basis and then finally a helicopter is also refused in favour of the belief that his Lord will save him. The guy is drowned and up in heaven asks his Lord why he wasn't saved and the Lord says I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want? But I digress.

Finally Al Jazeera has an article by Adam Branch: Dangerous ignorance: The hysteria of Kony 2012 which raises the most worrying concerns that the Kony 2012 video is encouraging the go-ahead for US military involvement in Uganda at a time when oil has been recently found. That possibly the Invisible Children organisation is a pawn in a power game which has nothing to do with protecting the children and everything to do with money and power. A short quote from this article:
In terms of activism, the first step is to re-think the question: Instead of asking how the US can intervene in order to solve Africa's conflicts, we need to ask what we are already doing to cause those conflicts in the first place. How are we, as consumers, contributing to land grabbing and to the wars ravaging this region? How are we, as US citizens, allowing our government to militarise Africa in the name of the "War on Terror" and its effort to secure oil resources?
Overall in the number of articles and comments I have read, has come across an indignation against the US and its so-called militant kids and that by their simplistic actions they are demonstrating a white supremacy over a black nation. To some extent, one can see that the Kony 2012 video might be a creating a monster in its supporters blindly listening to just that viewpoint and thinking they know best and working in a way that does not provide real help. Or will it?

Coming back to the Kony 2012 video I am very curious about the world we live in and the way we choose the easy option of turning a blind eye, or else simplistic answers such as doing a "Facebook share", or signing an online petition. Mass action is important, and yes, it certainly feels good to know one has taken part in a mass action. Others can look at it and say it is superficial and self-serving, and to some extent it may well be that. Still, we surely have to do something don't we? Some people will not watch the Kony 2012 video; will not watch the news; and will not try to find out more about anything. I think whatever we do, we should always question it.