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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Six Lessons I taught my kids from Kony 2012

Yesterday I was sucked into a Twitter post that led me to a 30 minute video about Joseph Kony a vicious leader in Uganda responsible for un-speakable death and destruction impacting children.  The video was very well done.  It sucked me in emotionally from the start.  Like a well made movie should. 

Lesson #1
Make sure your kids know how to communicate.  Encourage them to write, make movies, take pictures.  This is the present and future for communication. Don't ask them to wait to learn this after algebra and chemistry.  Encourage it now.

After gymnastics, dinner and the usual evening events, I sat the kids down at 8pm to watch the Kony 2012 video.  Keep in mind this was an American Idol night which normally has our butts firmly planted in our own little dips in the couch.  They whined and moaned for a couple of minutes.  Then they too were sucked in.

Lesson #2
Lead your kids to important messages.  Don't assume they won't be interested. My kids were touched, engaged, enraged, and interested.  Your kids will never be global in their thinking if you wait for school to teach them. 

After the video I asked my kids why they thought I had them watch the video and what they noticed about this message. They commented on how wrong the actions were of this man and how those children needed to be protected and saved. Sure, that's compelling and important and we discussed those points but I also shared these.......

Lesson 3 - You can't always wait to be told what to do, even if you're a kid.  Sometimes you have to take action. Believe in something. Stand for something. Care about something.  Then take action. 

Lesson 4 - This is our country. Don't be afraid to take your message to people in government that can impact changes.  You can't sit around complaining about our government.  You can lead from anywhere.  It won't be easy. You're going to need support. But you can have influence.

Lesson 5 -  Now what will you do?  So you got emotional, you were impacted, now what do you do?  They brainstormed ideas and then acted on a few.  Feeling is one thing.  Taking action is another.  Good intentions won't change the world, action does.

Sure there's controversy about the video, criticism about the Invisible Children organization, criticism that posters won't solve the problem and lots of outrage that it's a bigger problem than arresting Joseph Kony.  Sure, all valid points.
There is no perfect organization, you could dig up dirt on Walt Disney right now.

It's not about the posters.  It's about awareness.

I don't believe that the Invisible Children people are suggesting that the arrest of Kony will have everyone in Africa all of sudden well fed and holding hands singing Kumbaya my Lord.  But they did get you talking about it.  Learning about it. 

Lesson 6 - What do you want to be known for? So what if they get famous for the video?  With that many hits in a few hours, they are famous.  They created a work of art that inspired people to take action.  Paris Hilton got famous for having rich parents and getting invited to Hollywood parties. We're criticizing this guy for getting famous for a viral movie about an international tragedy that most of us and our children knew nothing about 48 hours ago. I've sat with my kids and watched videos of cats riding vacuum robots.  Kony 2012 was a far better use of our time.

I like the debate. The criticism is part of inspiring you to learn more and dig deeper but in the end, do something besides complain.  Pointing out the problem is easy.  Teach your children to seek and be a part of a solution, even if it's not a perfect solution. And for that, I hope they get famous.

If you are not one of the 40 million people that have watched this video, you can do that now.