I missed most of Kony 2012. In internetless isolation doing research. But I have a question for everyone in the development blogosphere who became so enraged: how many people have died as a result of Kony 2012? Oh, and another question, how many people are likely to die?
It always struck me that the old saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ is utter nonsense. Paved with good intentions? Not often. Most of the time the road to hell is paved with bad intentions. Diabolic ones. That’s what causes catastrophe – nastiness. And just as the road is paved with bad intentions most of the time it is also lined with doing nothing.
It’s not the trivial bits of global assistance that caused the Rwandan genocide. It was the perpetrators of this crime. And it was made worse not by the presence of the UN but rather by the absence of any real international attempts to stop it. Not good intentions: bad plus a willingness to look the other way.
And so Kony 2012. The guys who produced it might be dopey and motivated by a desire for fame (fortunately this is not something that ever motivates bloggers). But have they really caused any harm?
And if not, were we right to focus so much ire in their direction when at the same time, in all manner of different parts of the planet, bad people were busy doing bad shit?
Sure there’s lots of well intended Western development silliness. But, only very rarely does it do any harm. And probably occasionally it does quite a lot of good.
So Kony 2012 didn’t bother me that much. Human history is basically mostly about us trying to kill the ‘other’ or at least ignoring someone else doing the killing. Set against that backdrop I reckon attempts to do good, even daft ones are a step in the right direction.
[Update: See comments. Carol writes: ‘Kony 2012 called for military intervention and support of the Ugandan military (which is also accused of some pretty serious crimes). This kind of action did not end well in 2008, when it led to the retaliatory Christmas massacres.’ Fair point.]
[Update 2: I typed this blog post in a hurry last night while I was, somewhat anxiously, waiting to meet a taxi driver for an interview. I did not devote a lot of thought to it but, I thought, what the heck. Mine is a very small blog and it is a very big internet out there. If I’m wrong I’ll be ignored or corrected. What I didn’t expect was that this morning I would be learning via comments a lot on something I know to little about. This seems unfair. But thank you everyone.
For what it’s worth the Kony2012 defenders are quite convincing at least as of 9am Solomons time.]