Apologies for my stunned silence in the face of the Kony 2012 movement and the internet’s explosion of power. I’ve never felt like the whole internet has simultaneously pushed down the same keys at the same time. Not even the response to SOPA made me feel this level of solidarity.
The LRA has been around, being evil, and making the world suck more since I was in college, and that’s when I first tried to raise awareness for stopping them…more than ten years ago. Sometimes it feels like there are so many terrible things in the world, it’s impossible to figure out what to focus on. But the LRA is getting that focus now. And I hope we can maintain it.
Having seen the video that Invisible Children put together for this cause, I am floored. It is a masterpiece and the reaction to it has been exactly as strong as it should be…which is to say, EXTREMELY STRONG.
However, my worry is that we will soon feel about the LRA the way we feel about Syria today. John’s video recounts tremendous crimes against humanity that continue in Syria right now, and yet the mot common comment is “KONY 2012.” I would like to encourage us all to understand that international relations are not conducted on the time scale of the internet.
If we look back in three months and think “What happened with that Kony thing?” we will have failed. Honestly, it was hard for John not to feel that way about Syria as he scrolled through the video comments today. Like he put a lot of work into a video that no one cared about because it wasn’t the soup of the day.
Of course, it’s difficult to compare what the government of Syria does to what the LRA does, since the LRA is so deeply evil. And the message that Invisible Children is bringing to us is extremely powerful and we have to capitalize on that excitement in every way we can.
The 2012 deadline seems dangerously arbitrary, though, I’m sure, very motivational. I apologize for my tempered enthusiasm, I’ve wanted this guy (dead or alive) for over a decade, so I’m used to it not happening. But we’ve never had energy like this surrounding the cause before either. We must do whatever we can to make it happen, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Let me first underscore that, like Hank, I have publicly and privately advocated for the destruction of the LRA for a long time, both in terms of what I talk about and in terms of where I give money. For the record, I have not donated directly to Invisible Children because organizations like Charity Navigator have raised important and so far as I know unanswered questions about IC’s work and their transparency (see this tumblr post for more links, although some of them are dubiously reported), but I greatly admire both their mission and the clarity with which they are able to articulate it.
Regardless, I think it is tremendously important to arrest Joseph Kony and end the terror he has brought to Uganda, Sudan, the DRC, and the CAR. It’s something we can all agree upon, which makes it easy to rally around, and at least at first glance, it lacks the complexity and ambiguity of, say, trying to figure out whether to intervene in Syria.
In short, it’s unfair to say that Kony isn’t famous, at least to diplomats and governments. It’s just that—like other famous evil people—he is not an easy person to kill or capture. The truth resists simplicity, whether we’re talking about Uganda or Syria or Egypt or American Presidential nominating contests.
To dismantle the LRA, we need to maintain sustained pressure on political leaders here and abroad, which is the kind of work that as Hank points out requires continued focus and commitment.
Give up trying to be perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.
Give up comparing yourself to others. – The only person you are competing against is yourself.
Give up dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future. – Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. Don’t miss it.
Give up complaining. – Do something about it.
Give up holding grudges. – Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.
Give up waiting. – What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action.
Give up lying. – In the long-run the truth always reveals itself. Either you own up to your actions or your actions will ultimately own you.
Give up trying to avoid mistakes. – The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
Give up saying, “I can’t.” – As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.”
Give up trying to be everything to everyone. – Making one person smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. Start small. Start now.
Give up thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
Give up setting small goals for yourself. – Many people set small goals because they’re afraid to fail. Ironically, setting these small goals is what makes them fail.
Give up trying to do everything by yourself. – You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you work together, you will be far more capable and powerful than you ever could have been alone.
Give up buying things you don’t need. – Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you. Do not spend to impress others. Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects.
Give up blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can live your dream life depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
Give up making mountains out of molehills. – One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years? If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
Give up trying to live up to the expectations of others. – Work on it for real and exceed your own expectations. Everything else will fall into place.
Give up the ‘easy street’ mentality. – There is too much emphasis on finding a ‘quick fix’ in today’s society. For example taking diet pills to lose weight instead of exercising and eating well. No amount of magic fairy dust replaces diligent, focused, hard work.
Give up making promises you can’t keep. – Don’t over-promise. Over-deliver on everything you do.
Give up letting your thoughts and feelings bottle up inside. – People are not mind readers. They will never know how you feel unless you tell them.
Give up beating around the bush. – Say what you mean and mean what you say. Communicate effectively.
Give up avoiding change. – However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace change and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
Give up your sense of entitlement. – Nobody is entitled to anything in this world. We are all equal. We breathe the same air. We get what we give. We get what we earn.
Give up waiting until the last minute. – Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
Give up being dramatic. – Stay out of other people’s drama and don’t needlessly create your own.
Give up being anti-athletic. – Get your body moving! Simply take a long, relaxing walk or commit 30 minutes to an at-home exercise program like the P90X workout.
Give up junk food. – You are what you eat.
Give up eating as a means of entertainment. – Don’t eat when you’re bored. Eat when you’re hungry.
Give up foolish habits that you know are foolish. – Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t smoke. Etc.
Give up relationships with people who bring you down. – Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities. Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded.
Give up being shy. – Network with people. Meet new people. Ask questions. Introduce yourself.
Give up worrying about what others think of you. – Unless you’re trying to make a great first impression (job interview, first date, etc.), don’t let the opinions of others stand in your way. What they think and say about you isn’t important. What is important is how you feel about yourself.
Give up trying to control everything. – Life is an unpredictable phenomenon. No matter how good or bad things seem right now, we can never be 100% certain what will happen next. So do you best with what’s in front of you and leave the rest to the powers above you.
Give up doing the same thing over and over again. – In order to grow, you must expand your horizons and break free of your comfort zone. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
Give up following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t find the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
Give up persistent multi-tasking. – Do one thing at a time and do it right.
Give up thinking others are luckier than you. – The harder you work, the luckier you will become.
Give up filling every waking moment with commitments and activities. – It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Think. Relax. Breathe. Be.
Give up making emotional decisions. – Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.
Give up doing the wrong things just because you can get away with it. – Just because you can get away with something doesn’t mean you should do it. Think bigger. Keep the end in mind. Do what you know in your heart is right.
Give up focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
Give up taking yourself so seriously. – Few others do anyway. So enjoy yourself and have a little fun while you can.
Give up spending your life working in a career field you’re not passionate about. – Life is too short for such nonsense. The right career choice is based on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing. So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop. You’re on to something big. Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
Give up thinking about the things you don’t have. – Appreciate everything you do have. Many people aren’t so lucky.
Give up doubting others. – People who are determined do remarkable things. Remember, the one who says it can’t be done should never interrupt the one doing it.
Give up fussing with every beauty product on the market. – Good looks attracts the eyes. Personality attracts the heart. Be proud to be you. That’s when you’re beautiful.
Give up trying to fit in. – Don’t mold yourself into someone you’re not. Be yourself. Oftentimes, the only reason they want you to fit in is that once you do they can ignore you and go about their business.
Give up trying to be different for the sake of being different. – Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity is conformity. When people try too hard to be different, they usually end up being just like everyone else who is trying to be different. Once again, be yourself.
Give up trying to avoid risk. – There’s no such thing as ‘risk free.’ Everything you do or don’t do has an inherent risk.
Give up putting your own needs on the back burner. – Yes, help others, but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
And remember, mistakes make us human, failures help us grow, hope keeps us going and love is the reason we’re alive. So keep learning, loving and living. Never give up on yourself.