Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Kony and the other worldwide atrocities...

Yes this is blogpost about Kony. But it's also a blogpost about listening to both sides of the argument, and about not forgetting about all the other atrocities which are happening in the world at the moment.

So for the past couple of days Twitter has been awash with the hashtag #Kony2012. And I was confused. Until about an hour ago when I finally watched the video made by the Invisible Children company.

It's quite long for a YouTube video but it is worth a watch.

I was shocked by what I saw. I already knew about the situation in Uganda but the video really does start tugging at your heart strings. And I may have cried a little. But most of all it made me want to spread the message, so I did via Twitter and Facebook.

And then I started seeing links to objections to the Kony 2012 campaign. Now I should stress here that all the objections were to the campaign and the company behind it, not to the idea of raising awareness. Here are the links:

Now I don't know enough about the company to pass judgement, and I'm always wary about the evidence you find on the internet. The picture of the founders with the guns could have been taken completely out of context. I don't know. But what I do think is important is that everybody has access to all the information about a situation/campaign so they can come to their own decision. And that is what this is.

Personally I'm not going to donate any money, mainly because I haven't got anything at all to donate. But I do think it's important that we raise awareness of the situation with Kony in the hope that the governments of the world start paying attention to what the people want.

But we can't forget about the other atrocities that are happening all over the world at the moment which could benefit from our voices to raise awareness. Let's not let one very well planned campaign make us forget about the situation in Syria and the destruction of the NHS.

We are living in a world which is constantly moving and changing, and the internet has given us a platform where we can make our voices - the voices of the ordinary people - heard. And we shouldn't abuse that. So yes, let's raise awareness about Kony, let's keep raising money for the drought in the Horn of Africa, let's let David Cameron know exactly what we think about the Healthcare Bill, let's keep recyling to stop global warming. And let's keep those objectives at the forefront of our arguements. It isn't about the companies or the campaigns or the compromising photos. It's about raising awareness and trying to make a difference to the world, for us and for future generations. 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Long Overdue Interaction...

My uncle and cousin are currently over from Pakistan and last weekend I went home to see them.

I’ve got to admit I was really, really nervous about their visit. I have five cousins in Pakistan – three boys and two girls. My earliest memory of one of their visits is from 1998, when the girls hadn't been born. I was seven: they were nine, eight and six. They stayed for months, and it was amazing. I have nothing but good memories from that visit, like the time when one of the boys and I discussed why his mum was so fat (she was pregnant), playing in the snow, getting the four of us and my brother in his car seat in the back seat of the car and driving home on the look out for police cars. We were young, we didn’t have predujices, the customs of Pakistan and our religion didn’t keep us from having a great time.
Then we grew up.

Since that visit each boy has come over once, and it hasn’t been as fun. Because we had grown up  and I didn’t wear a headscarf. The combination of adolescence and the Pakistani rules of boys mixing with girls meant that those visits were nowhere near as fun or exciting as 1998. I love them all dearly, and so it was hard for me. But I wasn’t going to change, I wasn’t going to wear a headscarf to satisfy other people if it wasn’t right for me.
So this time I was nervous. The last time I saw this cousin – the one who’s closest to me in age and the one who I always got on with the best – we didn’t talk at all. I didn’t want it to be like that his time.
Thankfully it wasn’t.

I think he realised that I wasn’t going to be the same as I was when I was younger, and I certainly wasn’t going to be the same as other girls in Pakistan. And since he stated university he’s met other girls and learned to interact in a way that fitted with his Islamic ideals. And when he came I may only have seen him for two days but there wasn’t any of the awkwardness from the last visit. It was nice. We chatted. About uni, our families, his last visit. And I saw sad to say goodbye because I know it’ll probably be another five years before I see him again. But I can look forward to the next visit with an open heart.