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Thursday, March 22, 2012

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By now you have all seen the Kony 2012 video but just in case and to give the blog some life, here is the link below.



Now maybe someone did take the time out to watch the 27 minutes  right now but if not that’s ok, its 27 minutes. In synopsis it’s about the warlord Joseph Kony and an effort to stop him. There have been some critics of the video  here and they make some very strong points for example "For all the excitement around awareness as an end in itself, one could be forgiven for forming the impression that there might be a "Stop Atrocity" button blanketed in dust in the basement of the White House, awaiting the moment when the tide of awareness reaches the Oval Office."   ) about simplifying what is so much more complex than 27 minutes can describe. But there’s no denying the good points, there’s no denying that awareness is good and people learning more about the world and what’s happening is the only way that they can find a way to doing more about the world..

Anyway, how many have seen the Israel-Iran video concerning the possible unleashing of the dogs of war.  Previously on current affairs; Iran has been trying to get their nuclear power program off the grid or on it, am not sure which. Israel is not happy about this and they have their reasons. Israel after all is a battered wife, there’s a lighter sentence for  a woman who kills her husband after years and years of psychological pressure, this constant fear can make her fragile and in her fragility gift her strength that can lead to an escape. This is not a crime of passion since usually the plan is very logical and thought out but it’s treated as such since anyone can see that permanent stress can lead to breakage.

Israel is like that battered woman, it’s hard to imagine another country whose history is so pockmarked with pain and discrimination (we are a whole continent and it’s just been 400 years.) theirs stretches back to the Egyptians and the Persians,  the Babylonians and the Romans, deportation, forms of ethnic cleansing and slavery jostle in the dark of their history. Then  in the last century the holocaust.

So they overreact. Cultural memory kicks in and they fight back answering a knife with a canon, 10 with1100. They are used to being hunted and they know they need to fight back. The Iranian president once  said he wants to wipe Israel off the map of the world. It was clarified  saying he  meant it literally, and this was one of those occasions where saying this still leads to ambiguity, does he want to kill all the Israelis or just not have a country called Israel in the actual world map, the latter he affirmed, but still.

So Israel have their reasons for not wanting a nuclear Iran(when said like that it sounds like the whole country was exposed to radiation and can now get everyone sick, I guess that’s how it’s meant to sound.) America bows to Israelis will. 40% of the world’s billionaires are Jews, the Google guys, the Facebook guy? All Jews. In economic strength they find influence.In money so old its turning brown they find a say and so America listens to them, when Israel says they don’t want a nuclear Iran you hear a US president  commit to military action if Iran arms itself with a bomb. You hear the rhetoric turned up by the Israeli prime minister, you hear answers from the Iranian leader and every day with every speech they get closer and closer to yet another war in the Middle East then you watch this video.




That’s just 2 minutes, if you have good net click on it, it’s definitely worth it. It’s a video that puts a face on the people. There’s something universally human about the point when the guy goes “I never even met an Iranian except a guy in a museum in France, nice dude.” He goes on to talk about the fact that he doesn’t think that Iranians are shaped by their foreign policy or even that foreign policy is shaped by the Iranians. There are people who are not consulted because war is not a democratic undertaking. People don’t vote to send off their children to die in far off battlefields, away from home, away from love, doing things that turn boys into monsters.

For too long all the interaction that an Iranian got with an Israeli was restricted to politically minded and economically funded rhetoric, speech that is not worth a pinch of salt in relating what’s actually happening. Think about  how many people think like their politicians, agree with what they say. And which politician’s children actually serve in the war. Finally we had an appeal from a father, a brother a son, to mothers and daughters, to husbands and wives, the real victims of war and the appeal was simple; we do not want to bomb you.

Of course there will be critics of this video too but that’s not the point. Nothing’s perfect even something that is so clearly pure (I believe a lot of the motives for the Kony video were pure but purity can be the  other side of naivety.)


Last year we had the Middle East revolutions(as my friend Lucas quipped once about the one still on-going "to all the homies dying in their homes in Homs #Syria #its getting Syrias"-‘twas a twitter thing-) and the role that social media, that instant communication played in these revolutions is undeniable. While I was in Cairo I saw a book about tweets from Tahrir. Someone had collected tweets over that period of the January 25 revolution in Egypt and made them into a book. An eye witness account in 140 characters or less of an event that changed our world, one stuck with me, a victory tweet “he’s gone now let’s get his fucking name off of everything.”

War works by demonising the enemy. Noone can rationalise killing people they know, they can’t think they are actually fighting people like them, they would go crazy. But what about what happened in your own country when neighbours turned on each other? Well there was a lot of brainwashing and name calling, a lot of convincing, Kikuyus called stains and Kalenjin called vermin. People had to see their neighbours as something less than first. But now we have a tool that allows people to actually talk, to talk across borders to send love and hugs and kisses from one point to another.

And I don’t think that hugs, love and kisses can stop bombs, bullets and bastards. I don’t think that any outpouring of love on its own is enough to stem the tide of greed that gets wars going. But it’s a start and something we never had before. Remember weapons of mass destruction what would have happened if there was a way for an Iraqi to say "don’t bomb us, we are just like you. we too are lovers and friends, brothers and sisters, parents and children. Each of us encompasses a  world of complexities and emotions that is being reduced to a meaningless 3 letter acronym. Talk to your leaders" they could have said, "protest." The war may have happened anyway but who knows what the butterfly effect could have meant for the war efforts. Isn’t the life of even one conscientious objector worth the 10,000 shares that get a video like that to him?

I fell into the trap of thinking about foreign policy as representing the countries wants. I thought of Iran as an entity and Israel as another I didn't think of the man up there who just wants peace, who’s tired of war and is tired of the propaganda that leads to it, who is so exhausted that he wants to do something and makes a simple message.

And facebook for all its faults; its lack of human interaction, the anger you feel when one person takes out their phone when talking to you instead of talking to you, for all their faults social media may be one of the most powerful weapons we have. A way to connect across the globe and across borders, a reason that we have all now heard of Joseph Kony and a steering force to right the rudder of the ship heading to oblivion.

It’s not perfect, it’s not all right but when was there ever a drive to war and a message of peace was sent out so simply. When last did a dove alight on a Muslim country from Israel, when last were we reminded that there are people there and not just governments? When last did the ideas of the people actually hold sway?

Humanity in all its excesses, the vanity, the shallowness, the snide remarks and cat calls are on display for us all to see, but humanity in all its innocence is there too. A graphic designer thought he could make a difference, a filmmaking ngo thought they could raise awareness and it looks like they can.

Immortal technique raps that “universal truth is not measured in mass appeal.” and the video we all like and share the most will not be the truest. but the Kony 2012 got us talking, talking about what's good with it and what's right. Got us asking questions about the calling for US military intervention. Debates have been had and information has been sought by people who wouldn't have had they not watched the video and felt there was something more. Its been a while since I read the sentiment African solutions for African problems turn up in so many well articulated and thoughtfully written articles.


"That we are people is something we oft forget, without seeing them how can we hope to remember that they too are."