Friday, 9 March 2012


Is it a good thing I feel I have to have an opinion on #Kony2012 and I use the hashtag advisedly because this is a media event.  I have always had an opinion on Joseph Kony since 2004 and working in Sudan an area into which Kony made several visits - welcome and unwelcome. #Kony2012 is a different phenomena.

I don't like having to fall a hate Kony2012 or a hate Kony2012 cynicism camp - there is a bigger diversity of opinion available.

I don't think the filmmakers of #Kony2012 are vain or narcissitic - a criticism which is levelled at them often.  I don't think they over dramatised what has been going on.  I don't think the world knowing about Joseph Kony is a bad thing. So what do I think.

I do think that leveraging a media fearful global colonial power to come and correct the errors of the last global colonial power is perhaps unwise.  My own country created the north south divide of Uganda; is the US the best authority to clear it up?

I do think that the film will aid Joseph Kony to perpetuate his own myth in much the same way Mugabe did with hate media.

I do think it is good people are looking at world issues and I would like to think they will go beyond #Kony2012 and see that Uganda has needs that kill as many children as Joseph Kony.

I do think it is interesting to look at Joseph Kony's spiritual views: a man who believes he blessed by a water witch, is immortal, can breathe under water and never leaves his "safe territory".

I do think more needs to be understood about his support base that allows him to continue.

I do think Joseph Kony is an exceptional military leader and will not be beaten militarily, and that the Uganda government need to look at alternatives to military action.

I do think this is a civil war and not an international one.

Yesterday I blogged about human responsibilities so what is my human responsibility. Thank you #Kony2012 for making me question this.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Rights vs Responsibilities (a bit of a rant)

I want to show you 2 screen shots of Google searches:

The first is a Google of Human Rights

The second is a Google of Human Responsibilities

Do you note any distinct differences? If you take just a cursory view there are no adverts about human responsibilities, it would appear that they don’t sell. There are no sponsored links either. Look a little closer and you will see that human rights attract the attention of governments and the UN but human responsibilities don’t.

From working in aid work I know that a ‘rights based approach’ is a common way of assessing humanitarian interventions. I know from my sister that all schoolchildren are clear on their rights. What we all seem to be less clear on are our responsibilities. Where is the UN charter on Human Responsibilities? Surely we need a document exhorting us to the highest possible standards of living? I realise there is an industry around protecting, policing and promoting human rights that I think would collapse if we could put just half the effort into promoting human responsibilities. For every right that is claimed surely there must be a corresponding human responsibility. People generally like to have responsibility; people like to feel they have a grip on marshalling their own future. Surely we can aspire to attaining greater levels of responsibility; everyone who has worked knows that you want more responsibility because with it come greater rewards.

A great philosopher, Danny Lee Silk, when asked by one of his children if they “had” to do something told them “no, you get to do it”. What if we switched how we looked at the world and started to think that we get to look after those less fortunate than us. They became a privilege in our realms of responsibility. What if we aspired to greater levels of human responsibility how would the world look? The interesting thing it is almost impossible to have your human responsibilities stolen from you, yet we give them away. We give away our responsibility to look out for each other, to protect the environment, to engender peace where there is discord. I am not even talking of global politics what if in your work place you decided to quench gossip, to help the guy who doesn’t get how the new print management system works, to support your boss in making better decisions rather than criticising their bad ones. What if we stopped looking at our right to employment and looked to our responsibility to work; would our economy look very different.

I think we GET to be humanly responsible rather than HAVE to be and it feels good.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Taking Down The High Places

A friend recently asked me to engage in their problem. They felt that they were hitting a glass ceiling in their journey with God . This is someone that is way further down the line than me so I took time to hang out with God and ask him what he thought about the problem. 2 Kings 12 & 14 I felt I heard clearly. The thing is I have never been a big reader of Kings, so I dived into 12 leapt over 13 and on into 14. It is the story of Joash and Amaziah, father and son kings of Judah. Their stories are reasonably unremarkable, the get involved in wars and squabbles, do some politicking and then get assassinated after either giving away or losing the Temple gold and silver. OK so maybe not such quiet lives but within 2 chapters both have come and gone.
Their ancestor David dominates a huge section of the bible and even in their story he is referred to, and I think it is in these references that we see why.
2 Kings 12:2-3
Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
2 Kings 14:1-4
In the second year of Jehoash[a] son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash. 4 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
Niether of these Kings removed the high places, the high places being the traditional worship sites of the Canaanites to Asherah. It is thought that sometimes Israelites would go and worship God there too but the inference is that them being left up was bad. David however pulled down all the high places and destroyed the altars and had his chief priest teach the people the law. He did also have a man killed, commit adultery and eat the sacred bread from the Temple….so not flawless but few of the Bible’s heroes are.
So what does tearing down the high places look like in a modern setting. Some might say we worship the cult of celebrity or sport and whilst in part I guess that is true I am not sure that is what God was saying to me. It played out in my head more like this……
I was a reasaonable rugby player, I got county caps, played at a premiership club, coached a national students side but generally underachieved. My rugby career was a picture of talent squandered on mediocrity. There were things to me that were more important or rather things that had their hooks in me to drag me away…..girlfriends….fear of missing out on what was going on with my buddies…… the search for adventure…..the occasional beer fuelled evening. These were my high places these were the things that kept me from fulfilling my potential.

In a faith journey I don’t think it is so different, there is plenty to drag you back from a relationship with God and you can live a good life and do good things and be pleasing in God’s sight but never tear down those high places and live in mediocrity for the rest of your time. Yet it is the tearing down of those high places that made David a name recognised down the ages and Joash and Amazaiah a couple of chapters in Kings. Our high places are different, perhaps judgement, perhaps immorality perhaps overworking but until we get to grips with them and throw them down we are perhaps likely to remain just below that glass ceiling.

NB some details in this story have been changed to protect the innocent, I do not claim to be right I am just thinking about potentially being right and I may even be wrong about that but if it makes you think, then I am alright with that……right?