KONY 2012: Social Movement or State Propaganda for GenY?
The media frenzy stirred up by the KONY 2012 campaign brought worldwide awareness to war criminal Joseph Kony, the head of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). While the majority of people enthusiastically follows this laudable cause, others have voiced concern that beneath it may lie a carefully thought out agenda that uses reverse psychology to justify a military intervention in Uganda.
Kony definitely deserves both the demonization that he gets and punishment for his crimes against humanity, but stopping one bad guy is not going to make the underlying causes of civil conflict magically disappear — in the worst case scenario, he’ll simply be replaced by another bad guy. Critics such as The Vigilant Citizen elaborate on the causes of uproar in many African countries, which in fact have more to do with the consequences of colonialism than with the actions of Kony per se.
Referring to Keen (2007) and Rieff's (2003) reasoning, the public needs to keep in mind that governments oftentimes engage in military intervention disguised as humanitarian response to gain access or control over natural resources or geographically strategic areas. Uganda has substantial natural resources, including sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt, and largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas. The 2006 CARMA report has shown that crisis and response have been emphasised where the potential political and economic gains from a crisis were more strategic (e.g. the chance to promote stability within, and better relations with, affected regions — usually trading partners in terms of oil and arms). Maybe in this particular case it’s just a coincidence…
This post is neither endorsing nor dismissing the KONY 2012 campaign, it’s simply meant as a reminder to practice independent thinking. Rather than blindly following a social movement or an elite’s agenda, make it a habit to question conventional wisdom, especially that which you get from the media. Truth is more than just one side of the story; it’s worthwhile to get your information from multiple sources. Last but not least, don’t let your view of Africa get skewed by the media, it’s not all barbaric conflict and starving children.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth, but you got to be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers saying ‘you ain’t where you wanna be because of him or her, or anybody.’ Cowards do that, and that ain’t you. You’re better than that… But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”—
The world has lost one of its greatest visionaries - Steve Jobs, an unconventional entrepreneur who inspired and motivated people, turned setbacks into success, and made the best of life until the very last day.
After all, the Buddhist vegetarian who enriched our lives with the notorious Apple devices and some of the best animated films of all time, had figured out what life is all about. As he put it in his 2005 Stanford Commencement address, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
He lived each day as if it was his last, knowing that, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
His death is a great reminder that all the money in the world can’t buy us a long, healthy life. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me” - and it is what should matter to all of us. So, let’s do it the Steve Jobs way - today is the perfect day to start doing everything you can to make your dreams come true.
What a House from 1902 Taught Me about Coming to Terms with Imperfection
In early 2010, I moved into a house that is going to be 110 years old next year. It’s a gorgeous building – soft green with antique ornaments, located perfectly in an artsy, lively neighborhood. As soon as you enter the front door, what you won’t find is an even space. All floors, walls and ceilings are crooked to the point where it’s quite an act to properly set up furnitures or hang a picture on the wall. It took me ages in despair to renovate it and even now, there’s still some stuff that isn’t quite ready yet.
The more time I spent on turning the place into a comfortable home – my personal sanctuary, so to speak – the more I’ve grown to love even its imperfections. This house is never going to be 100 per cent flawless unless maybe you’d rip it apart and rebuild it from scratch. Yet, I am determined to make it live up to its full potential, but at some point I had to accept its limitations and love it anyway. Now my focus is on all the great things that this place has to offer – I really, really love living here. And it shows, people love hanging out at my place because, to quote their words, “it has a holiday feel to it.” That’s actually what I was going for: every room looks different and was influenced by my extensive travels around the world, like for instance, my Italian café styled kitchen or the coast of Colombia inspired bathroom.
My home is a “perfect” example that nothing human-made, or human-designed is, or can be, absolutely perfect. There’s always room for improvement, and that’s ok. It’s what makes life interesting. After all, we might be better off thinking in terms of “making things better” rather than “making things perfect” because so many ideas and dreams don’t get realized when we are always waiting for the perfect set of conditions to make a move. As a matter of fact, it is like the great David J. Schwartz says, “An only fair idea acted upon, and developed, is 100 per cent better than a terrific idea that dies because it isn’t followed up.” Instead of waiting until everything is perfect, anticipate obstacles and tackle them when they arise. This way “imperfection” isn’t keeping you from taking action, and as a byproduct you gain more confidence and serenity.
Take comfort in the fact that nothing and nobody is perfect – and remember that “nothing comes merely by thinking about it.” Believe in yourself. Know that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to – be a go-getter!
It’s funny, you know, oftentimes people tell me, “don’t be so pessimistic, you’ve got all the time in the world, there’s no need to do all these things right now”.
I really work hard to adhere to the “Live every day as if it were your last” attitude. This state of mind is the reason why I face my fears and move forward in life. When I go to sleep at night I’m usually satisfied and enthusiastic about the next day and the opportunity to do things that make me happy. If one day it actually is my last day, at least I know I’ve had a fulfilled life because I avoided the habit of postponing things until “tomorrow”, “next week”, or “once I have more education, money, time, luck, etc.” In many instances, “postponing” is synonymous with “never”. I consider myself an optimist and, which is even more important in my personal experience, a person who is not only convinced that there always is a way but a person who puts ideas into practice.
After hearing many times that this attitude is apparently considered pessimistic, I felt stressed and tired, and in the end rather pessimistic and even depressed. The past two years I spent a whole lot of time on figuring out who I am, what I want and how to live and achieve the life I want - self improvement, in other words. The most important principles I learnt thus far are
The art of non-conformity
Feel the fear and do it anyway
Suddenly, the very attitude that left me tired and miserable became the attitude that makes me feel energetic and optimistic.
Got a good idea, dream, goal? Then do something about it - and do it NOW! The only way to build confidence and destroy fear is through action.
“Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Although I’m living in an area with excellent tap water quality, I decided to get a water filter because our building is from 1902 and the pipes contain lead. Today my on-tap water filter has finally arrived and I’ll let you know if it’s worth getting this particular one once I tried it. First obstacle: I know four different languages, but apparently that’s still not enough to understand the manual (really, no English or German?)… which, by the way, reminds me of an odd instance with a dietary supplement. The listed instructions and side effects on the box were different, even contradictory in each language, so bascially you had to read them in several (at least four) languages to get the full information you needed in order to use it correctly. Globalization, anyone?
On a different note, there are still too many people lacking access to clean drinking water - in the video below Michael Pritchard demonstrates his invention that turns filthy water drinkable in an instant!!! If you’d like to learn more about the Lifesaver Bottle visit www.lifesaversystems.com or check out www.circleofblue.org and www.water.org for more information on the world’s fresh water crisis!
"I feel like I’m doing something a little different when it comes to music so it’s really hard for me to find someone that understands the way I sing, the way I think, and the way I act… I wish I could say ‘this is what I am’… but I really can’t because every day I feel different." - Bruno Mars
For the past five years I’ve been traveling around the world and didn’t have a TV or radio at my disposal, so I relied a lot on my younger siblings to tell me what’s hot these days. Last year, someone told me about a new show called “Glee”. I checked it out and it happened to be the episode where they performed “Billionaire”.
I couldn’t get that song out of my head and googled it to find the original. I really loved the song and asked my siblings, who own pretty much any record that’s been in the charts, if they could hook me up with some Bruno Mars tunes. They sure did, but I usually listen to old (1940s-1980s) music and world music, so I’m always a little reluctant when it comes to modern mainstream music.
At that point, I had only listened to “The Lazy Song” and “Runaway Baby” which I thought were fun and catchy. However, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon an interview with him that I realized I should actually make an exception and listen to the rest of his album. Three months ago I finally listened to the whole thing and was pleasantly surprised by the musical and lyrical variety of his songs. What makes “Doo-Wops And Hooligans” special is that it’s one of the few albums I can listen to from beginning to end, and most of the songs I can really relate to, it’s almost a bit like a soundtrack of my life thus far (but that’s a whole different story).
Aside from his musical variety, Bruno Mars achieves something I admire and appreciate greatly - he’s incredibly versatile in his performances and interviews. Having the attention span of a three year old, I feel bored and lose interest quickly if celebrities tell exactly the same stories or perform a song in the same way over and over again. His versatility and witty demeanor put him (and his fellow Smeezingtons) right on top of my “To-Meet-And-Interview” list.
Video: “Runaway Baby” Today Show performance
Considering my musical preferences, I really appreciate an old school(ish) performance. Needless to say, Bruno Mars’ James Brown inspired rendition of “Runaway Baby” not only made me feel ‘nice, like sugar and spice’ but it also reminded me that there’s still a few über-talented artists left in today’s world of superficiality and synthesized crap.
On a different note, the guys looked absolutely dashing in those suits. A little shout-out to Philip Lawrence, he just cracks me up every time…
Introducing… Bruno Mars
Most of you probably know about this guy, but if you don’t, here’s a little video to get you started.
"Music is what feelings sound like." ~Author Unknown
As someone who dedicates her life to pushing boundaries in a spirit of adventure, collaboration and innovation, I like my music like I like my people: as diverse and open-minded as possible.
Naturally, I fell in love with Culcha Candela's music right away when I met them by accident (we were there to see a different artist) back in 2004. The band member's differing roots (i.e. Uganda, Colombia, Poland, South Korea and Germany) allow for a mixture of lyrics in English, Spanish, German and Patois. This multiculturalism is evident in their music, which combines influences from reggae, hip hop, salsa, and rock to form a unique sound. Aside from pushing musical boundaries, Culcha Candela embodies, to cite their album titles, the “Next Generation” - a “Union Verdadera (engl. true union)” that is connected in a way that transcends cultural barriers and speaks a common language of unity and compassion.
The only thing that’s been bothering me for a while is that most people seem to prefer Culcha Candela’s more recent mainstream hits which shy away from their musical diversity and profound message. Unfortunately, that says quite a bit about our society…
There’s no artist who had a bigger influence on my life than Michael Jackson. In honor of the second anniversary of his death, I decided to write a little bit about how his music has inspired me over the past two decades.
1. Man In The Mirror
I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer: If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.
"Man In The Mirror", my favorite Michael Jackson song, might have been his interpretation of Gandhi’s "Be the Change you wish to see in the World". Like most of us, I had to learn that in order to make the world a better place, I need to overcome my own demons, fears, and insecurities - and ultimately lead by example. We have the ability to change ourselves, but only we can do it. So if we want to bring about progress, we should do it the Michael Jackson way and make better use of our own energy, initiative and ability.
2. Black Or White
See, it’s not about races, just places, faces. Where your blood comes from is where your space is. I’ve seen the bright get duller. I’m not going to spend my life being a color.
I’m so blessed that I grew up in a culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhood where no one cared whether your skin was black or white, or something inbetween. However, in most parts of the world this is not the case and I had to learn it the hard way. That’s the beauty and great impact of Michael Jackson’s music - it connects people all over the world. In my case, it even inspired me to fight any form of inequality and discrimination. I’m all for diversity - in people, life, work, food, music, nature. Life would be a bore if everything and everyone were the same.
3. Heal The World
Heal the World, make it a better place, for You and for Me and the entire human race. There are people dying, if you care enough for the living, make a better place for You and for Me.
I grew up in a loving, middle class family in Europe, so “Heal The World” was a big deal for me as I got to see that there are so many people who are less fortunate than me. I have felt an obligation to improve the lives of these people ever since. Ultimately, it gave my life purpose - my job is to raise awareness about global issues and actively help find and implement solutions.
4. The Earth Song
Did you ever stop to notice the crying Earth, the weeping shores.
The “Earth Song” video was a wake up call for me as I’ve actually never really cared much about nature and sustainability until then. Needless to say, I became very concerned about the ecological legacy we leave for our children and future generations. Courtesy of the University of London, I’ve actually been studying the interactions between society and nature for the past few years.
5. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep on with the force, don’t stop! Don’t stop ‘til you get enough!
I’ve been listening to Michael Jackson songs all day - which really made me realize that his music never fails to cheer me up. Especially this song always gets the party started.
Looking at this video… the way he looked right then… it’s the one thing that makes me really sad - that he never saw how handsome he was before undergoing all these unnecessary cosmetic surgeries. Well, at the end of the day, nobody is perfect.
Okay guys, let’s finish this off with one last quote (from his website) which best captures both what a great artist and person he was:
"Michael Jackson continues to inspire people in every corner of the world as someone who chose to use the extraordinary gifts and talents he was blessed with to deliver messages of hope, love and peace. Michael’s legacy is more than his remarkable artistic accomplishments. It also includes an indescribably unique spirit that still connects Michael today with countless fans in a way that knows no borders, no cultural barriers and which speaks a common language of unity and compassion."
“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm… As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands: One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”—Audrey Hepburn (via littlemiss)
When it comes to style, I like to mix things up a little in order to look as different from others as possible. It’s been a long process to find my personal style - traveling around the world, music & film have had a big influence and continue to do so.
The biggest influence from music clearly came from Michael Jackson and Dru Hill, but being a huge fan of the 1950s, I also take a lot of inspiration from Frank Sinatra & the Rat Pack, Elvis Presley, Doris Day & Ella Fitzgerald.
Both traveling to Colombia (I get my handmade earrings collection from there) and South Korea (where I bought my first of the many hats I own) have not only transformed my outlook on life but also added some culturally diverse attributes to my style.
All my life I’ve felt out of place, like I belonged either everywhere or nowhere. I’ve so many interests and people from different cultural backgrounds in my life - I want my style to reflect that. Another thing is that I’m easily bored and my tastes are often contradictory - the new and the old, the city and the rural, soul and rock, dark and bright… even as kid I was into cars and barbies and borrowed clothes from my brother and my sister. I guess I just don’t like to be labeled a certain way.
Growing up this was no easy way to be, I always tried to fit in but somehow never quite made it. The older I get the more I can embrace my individuality.
I’m gonna add some pictures later on for those who don’t know me. Until then, check out the video below of the guys who taught me a lot about mash-ups and diversity when I first met them in 2004.