I have a problem with charities. I don’t trust them. I always suspect that the ones big enough that I’ve heard of them are spending way too much money on advertising themselves and not enough on their cause; and the ones I haven’t heard of, well, I haven’t heard of.
I fell into the trap today (not necessarily a terrible trap) of being touched by and being one of the thousands of people who helped spread the KONY 2012 video around the web. Only hours later, upon being more fully educated about their organization, to feel a little swindled because it turns out their method of fighting the bad guy is to partner up with a bad army. In a lot of places around the world, the harsh and tragic reality is that terrorism is a daily occurrence. Even here in America, we’re not shielded from it entirely. The difference is that America is powerful, and many nations whose people, including children, suffer every single day have few means to fight back. That’s why well-produced videos designed to tug at the heartstrings of people who can afford to help whether through time or money, are so effective. Like the one I saw today.
I guess in my heart of hearts I knew well enough to not act right away other than posting a link to the video and sending an email out to my family to watch it. Immediately after seeing the video, I did go to the organization’s site, but I didn’t give money or buy any of their propaganda materials. Then, as I mentioned, I started to read about it some more and learn some more, and as a result, while I’m not regretful to have posted the video – because I do believe that knowledge is power – I don’t think personally, monetarily, I will be supporting this particular cause. (As much as I want evil-doers like Kony to be stopped.)
Somewhere inside all compassionate people, I believe there lies a desire to make a positive change in the world; to leave a legacy. I’m just finishing reading the Steve Job’s biography, and he’s a great exemplification of that. He succeeded at that. I think that all good intentions aside, most of us are lost – lost on where to start, lost for what to do, how to do it, and easily discouraged and sucked back into “me” thinking. It’s not easy to be globally-minded, it seems a daunting task that is easier left for “tomorrow.” Or left to other people’s causes, for them to decide how to spend your donation.
If nothing else, the way I see it, videos like today’s serve as a reminder and wake up call that the world can be pretty crappy, and that if we band together, we have the power to either contribute to that crappiness or to alleviate it. More power to the latter.