Let’s Talk KONY 2012

If you haven’t seen it yet please watch the KONY 2012 video. You don’t have to agree with it, or support Invisible Children, but I think everyone should watch it to at least be able to contribute to the conversation.

Some people have responded to the KONY 2012 video (and there are many more but these are the ones that stood out to me):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wLCagapv38g http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J2P4Diu-TM&feature=related

Invisible Children has responded to their critics in writing and in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQABpjCalJk

And to the response to their KONY 2012 Video:

First I would like to write about Joseph Kony.

Now I think it is one thing to break a law and be punished for it. I think that all laws are debatable. In some countries some laws take away human rights (often specifically relating to freedom in relation to gender and sexuality) so I don’t think the law should be the final word in any situation… however, according to the video, Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court. According to their website:

The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The ICC is an independent international organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/About+the+Court/

Their website also has an update on what it calls the “Situation in Uganda”:

The case The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen is currently being heard before Pre-Trial Chamber II. In this case, five warrants of arrest have been issued against [the] five top members of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). Following the confirmation of the death of Mr Lukwiya, the proceedings against him have been terminated. The four remaining suspects are still at large.

http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/Situations+and+Cases/

I think it makes sense that if many countries and their international court agree that someone should go to trial, then it is worth following up on. One thing I have heard some critics of the KONY 2012 video say is that Joseph Kony is evil and should be punished. I disagree. I do not think anyone is evil. I think all beings deserve love and respect and compassion – for if I were to deny these basic things to Joseph Kony, I would only be perpetuating the terrible allegations that have been committed in his name. I am not saying that I agree with his actions, or that I think the acts committed by the LRA should be condoned – however I think it is possible to still love someone, and know that they may have made a mistake or have done wrong.

Secondly I would like to write about the KONY 2012 video itself and some of the allegations and criticisms of it.

I disagree that the video proposes a simple solution, I think that the video presents one step in reaching a goal. Much like other activist campaigns that target small milestones on the road to an end goal (in this case: INVISIBLE CHILDREN USES FILM, CREATIVITY AND SOCIAL ACTION TO END THE USE OF CHILD SOLDIERS IN JOSEPH KONY’S REBEL WAR AND RESTORE LRA-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN CENTRAL AFRICA TO PEACE AND PROSPERITY). I love that IC has a very clear and specific goals and I really like the way they are so good at empowering people by giving them a common goal and realistic ways to contribute that everyone can be part of. It’s an interesting experiment on social change. As a North American Citizen, apart from sending US or Canadian military (which are not purely conflict based – I used to be very opposed to anything related to the military but I have learned that they also are a valuable civil service – helping when there are floods or hurricanes etc.. in Canada anyway), I can’t think of any other actions me and my government could take to end this conflict. I don’t think that in itself, tweeting a message, sharing a video or sending an e-mail can end a major world conflict, however I think it is important to make supporters a part of a movement. These small acts of sharing information can contribute to major shifts in priorities and thinking for individuals. I know my life changed the first time I saw a video from Invisible Children (which I found via Pete Wentz btw several years ago). Some people have said the video is creating more war and conflict. I don’t know how to end a war. I don’t know the right answer here. I do know that whatever action has been taken in the past 25 years has not been effective, because there is still a war… so I think a new approach may be necessary. Maybe instead of trying to end war, we should be trying to create peace. Even in this case though, I think the two are very inter-related. I think it will be much easier to create peace when the LRA is disarmed and no longer causing children to do terrible things.

I read many articles calling supporters of KONY 2012 young and idealistic. So? Join the party.

So do i support KONY 2012? I don’t have a problem with spreading information and creating conversations about Joseph Kony. I think the more people that think about the well being of others and the world we are creating the better. Love it, hate it, as long as you are thinking and engaged I think that is extremely valuable. Maybe you think Invisible Children is using the wrong tactics targeting policy makers and celebrities. Maybe you or someone you share the video with will have a better idea of how to create peace. I think that is the power of video, it can inspire other ideas and actions.

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people being critical of the video or of Invisible Children. In fact I love that. I think critical thought, questioning, sharing ideas, and making informed choices. I think if everyone was more critical Kony probably wouldn’t have had enough followers to start and continue to build a child soldier army in the first place. And being critical doesn’t always mean supporting the social justice or “left-wing” side of things. I think being critical is about looking at both sides of an issue and deciding what is right for one’s self. Perhaps education is the way to support critical thinking – perhaps we should support building school in developing countries a la the world’s largest network of children helping children or other groups… but when I reflect on my own life I am not sure that the current school system in most countries supports this. Sitting and learning from a book or a teacher isn’t engaging in critical thought in my opinion. Maybe I should be trying to create the next generation of critical independent researchers…. I really don’t know (nor do I think there is) a “right answer” here.

I do know that my involvement with invisible children (like this, this, this and this) gave me something to belong to. I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself, and I was. I have connected with other people as a result of past work with IC, and on several dark evenings I was not so alone in the world. So I am going to keep creating conversations about Kony. Maybe it will inspire someone to come up with a way to create peace, who knows. Everything is connected.

See you on April 20th.

UPDATE:

I have started this post several times and the situation keeps changing almost more quickly than I can keep up with. You may have heard that there are some allegations again Invisible Children founder, Jason Russell. IC released this responce video:

This message was released on behalf on Jason’s Family:

“Thank you to everyone concerned with Jason and his health. Jason has dedicated his adult life to this cause, leading up to KONY 2012. We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it. While that attention was great for raising awareness about Joseph Kony, it also brought a lot of attention to Jason—and, because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard.

Let us say up front- that Jason has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn’t caused by either of those things. But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion. On our end- the focus remains only on his health, and protecting our family. We’ll take care of Jason, you take care of the work.

The message of the film remains the same: stop at nothing.”

-Jason’s wife on behalf of the Russell Family

I think Jason is human, and I wish him and his family all the best.

Woofs of Wisdom

I went to a storytelling event. It was really amazing to hear all of the stories… There was sadness, happiness, and mystery in all of them.

The biggest thing I took away was not from a story though – it was from the dog. When I was younger I was afraid of dogs. It took me a long time to get comfortable with dogs but now I am often the person a dog will spend most of the night getting rubs from. I like to think it’s because I am vegan.

Usually when I am with an animal ( dog, cat… any animal) I try to lure it closer to me, to sit on my lap or next to where I am sitting. I realized that instead of trying to force the dog to sit by me, I could move to accommodate the dog. And I did. I got to sit in a new place and discover something new. By listening I find that I can discover so much : )

Scribbles from a Self-Discovery Workshop

My awesome friend Chris did a great workshop for my SFU club: The LOVE Club (Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation). We had fruits and vegetables that got all eaten up! Yay! Here are some of my thoughts and inspirations from this workshop… my notebook scribbles if you will : )

• One of the first things Chris spoke about was the voluntary and involuntary changes in life. I think by CHOOSING (this is embracing, finding gratitude) all changes I can live better. Thanks CG for that perspective : )

• I was also pondering my stance on life… optimism, opportunism, pessimism… I think I am an adventurist! That is, I look at a situation and say, “Hey! This is Exciting!”

• Try embracing and letting go instead of clinging and resisting.

• I was thinking about self care. I think self care is basically breathing but in different ways. Breathing: it goes in and out and then around. I can “breathe” with my creativity, sending it in and out and around. I can “breathe” with my time management, putting it into myself, out into the world, and around to those around me… sort of a new way of looking at things for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM9gQkfwyg

 WITHOUT A SONG OR A DANCE WHAT ARE WE?

• I think DUTY is a responsibility to others. This is a very important part of my life. It moves me to the four corners of emotion (joy, despair, anger and fear) – but what would my life be without this experience? I think I was born to be an activist.

• I was reminded to ask, “How am I contributing to your life?” and think of how others are contributing to mine.

• I want to make a sweater with a heart on my sleeve… hehe.

 

JENNI IS:

a creative, emotional, optimistic, extroverted catalyst.

a curious, skeptical, theorist.

a spontaneous, performing improvisor.

a dependable, multi-tasking stabilizer.

 • I am always curious about the relationship between self-discovery and acknowledgements… If I think about myself critically, especially surrounding my weaknesses am I just limiting myself and creating evidence that is not empowering? I asked Chris about this after the workshop and he said self-discovery is great to help people find blindspots.

• I mapped out my life and the moments that most defined me. Most of the cool things i’ve done have been the result of a desire for community. A search and a quest for belonging. It has led me to many wonderful places : )

• I also mapped out influential people in my life – I am so blessed to know so many diverse people!

Yay!

I Think I Fell In Love (on the skytrain)

Beautiful EyeI think I always knew that we are all of one… But I didn’t really realize it until I was staring into this boys eyes on the skytrain yesterday. It was the weirdest thing. I bumped into my transit friend again, for the third time via a bus. Usually if I bump into someone twice I assume it is a sign and some sort of divine coincidence or irony… but three times… wow that must be something special.

I am almost scared to write about it… what if he reads it? What if I ruin it? But then (as SuperForest Jackson Would Say) it is in the past, and it is already a fantasy. And it’s already open to the creation, interpretation, and the fabrication of my forgetful mind.

So basically I turned to my left at the bus stop and there he was, just standing there, reading. I said hi. We got on the bus and talked about wanting to get lost in a forest, and how gross fast food is, and what we would do if the martix was real (or is it? haha). He was really tired and kept almost falling asleep. We talked about Hippy University. He told me he lost his mind. I asked how. He said it exploded. I asked what it looked like. He said it looked like grasses. I said I think mine would look like rainbows and glitter. He said you don’t really know how it’s going to come out until it happens. I told him he was like the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat combined. He said he identified with the Caterpillar.

When we got to the skytrain we talked about being alone. I remembered how I think we are always alone (in our minds) and how we are never alone (in the world). Our disagreements weren’t like an argument, more like one person reminding the other of a different perspective, our thoughts blowing back and forth like the wind. He mentioned how he was tired and wanted to be alone… but then said it would be ok if I was there. Wow.

He said he had decided to be awake. I wonder if it was because of me. Then, i’m not sure exactly how but we just stopped talking and were sitting there next to each other, staring into each other’s eyes. While I was looking there I was trying to see inside of him (because they say that the eyes are the portal to the soul) but I noticed that there wasn’t anything to see. It was just me and myself. I had all of the these thoughts and I wanted to write about it, and tell people, I wanted to keep it a secret, and I wanted to know what he was thinking, and I wondered if he knew what I was thinking, and then I tried to send him some intentions (with my mind) so that he’d know that I love him, and then I wondered what he were trying to tell me by just sitting there and staring at me. And I watched him almost fall asleep, going in and out of consciousness, and I laughed because I know what that’s like and it was beautiful. I didn’t want to move. My heart was beating and I was ever-so aware. I realized that we were having a moment of being alone, together.

Part of me wanted to ask for his phone number or someway to contact him, but I didn’t want to do anything to ruin that moment or to change, it because it was wonderful.

Later I was pondering how unintentionally and amazingly romantic he is… the words he said, his eyes… but then I realized it isn’t him – it’s me! I think that romance is all open to interpretation. I can see something or hear something and think it is romantic – and then I create it to be that way. I was singing this when I got home…

I didn’t mean to waste the water
but I couldn’t feel my hands
I stood outside in the rain for 10 minutes today
and I wondered what role in my life that you’d play

I find this incredibly ironic because I often joke that if I had a pick up line it would be, “remember that time I starred at you?” BUT NOW THAT HAS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

Anywayy… similar to our last meeting…

I love that I can fall in love a million times a day. And that connecting with another person doesn’t have to mean anything or have a future or a past. Just a moment. It was beautiful. Maybe this is my missed connection. Maybe it’s just a moment

I want to be a professional role model (and the reason I bought an iPhone)

This is the main reason I bought an iPhone today.

"Role Models" - after William Wegman

When I was in high school I didn’t think caring was cool.

I didn’t think it was cool to not eat animals. I didn’t think it was cool to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I didn’t think it was cool to eat vegetables. I didn’t think it was cool to drink green juice, or eat salad or kale. I didn’t think it was cool to be different. I didn’t think it was cool to dig through the trash looking for recycling to save. I didn’t think it was cool to say “no plastic straw please”. I didn’t think it was cool to bring my own water bottle, or my own lunch. I didn’t think it was cool to ride a bicycle. I didn’t think it was cool to hug other people or tell them how much I loved them. I didn’t think it was cool to be friends with my parents. I didn’t think it was cool to smile at people on the bus. I didn’t think it was cool to not have any enemies. I didn’t think it was cool to talk to the “weird” kids. I didn’t think it was cool to be weird! I didn’t think it was cool for everyone to make their own choices about drugs and alcohol. I didn’t think it was cool to take action to change the things that I didn’t like about the world. I didn’t think it was cool to ask where things came from and how they were made. I didn’t think it was cool to buy second hand clothes. I didn’t think it was cool to refuse to buy clothes made in sweatshops. I didn’t think it was cool to think about the big picture.

Or maybe I did. In hindsight my vision of myself is cloudy.. (after all everything in the past is a fantasy). Maybe I thought these things were cool but I was scared that other people didn’t think they were cool.

I know that right now, at this moment…

I want to make it cool to care. I want to make it cool to empower other people. I want to make it cool to value heath. I want to make it cool to care about the environment. I want to make it cool to ride a bike. I want to make it cool to grow plants. I want to make it cool to love animals and not hurt them. I want to make it cool to be vegan. I want to make it cool to show compassion to other beings. I want to make it cool to do whatever it takes to better the world. I want to make it cool to leave each place better than I found it, and each person as well. I want to make it cool to learn things. I want to make it cool to go to school. I want to make it cool to practice lifelong learning. I want to make it cool to pick up trash on the street. I want to make it cool to reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse. I want to make it cool to question everything and challenge the now. I want to make it cool to say hi to people and smile at them. I want to make it cool to appreciate others. I want to make it cool to say please and thank you. I want to make it cool to apologize and be humble. I want to make it cool to forgive people. I want to make it cool to love unconditionally.

I think I want to be a professional role model.

I am looking forward to tweeting, photo-blogging, tumbling and more!

Along this vein of thought, someone told me to check out philanthropy – that might be how I spend my life. Time to get started! Yay!

Also, I know Apple has recieved lots of criticism lately about human rights relating to the conditions in their Foxconn factories. Also though, they are the only tech company (that I know of) that actually puts of a report and is investigating the standards in the factories. I am currently doing a paper on this topic so hopefully that will add to this conversation.

So my plan is to use my powers for good and make the best of this.

PS: I also watched the movie Role Models. I laughed a lot! Cool stuff.

I Love Dancing!

bodyvox_starbursts__MG_1167

According to the SFU Active Living Info page…

It’s hard to find time to get out and get active! Luckily, activity doesn’t need to occur in long, structured sessions – and it doesn’t need to occur at the gym! Similar positive health benefits are possible by accumulating 30 to 60 minutes of activity in short bouts throughout the day. With the ‘ultimate goal’ being 10,000 steps a day, have a look at how some of the activities we do in our day-to-day lives contribute to this goal!

Here are some examples of how you can ‘fit it in’:

  • Housework. 45 minutes of housework is equivalent to 3,366 steps.
  • Climbing stairs. 10 minutes of stair climbing is equivalent to 1,200 steps.
  • Wii. 20 minutes of moderate Wii intensity is equal to 1,250 steps.
  • Dancing. 60 minutes of dancing is equal to 7,194 steps.
  • Yoga. 40 minutes of yoga is equal to 2499 steps.

Well I am currently taking a dance course at school so I have been stepping up a storm if that is true!

Often I stay after class just to use the studio, it’s so nice to have a space to dance!

I have found this to be a really great way to learn more about eating for energy (yay fruit and smoothies!) and for taking care of my body (ie stretching). I have also discovered some other hobbies as a result of dancing – like swimming. Dancing is awesome : )

Swing Time Santa

Date a Girl Who Cares

So this was inspired by a piece that my friend Trisha wrote called “date a girl who writes” which was inspired by this post titled “date a girl who reads,” which was inspired by this post called “You Should Date An Illiterate Girl”. Yes. Hahaha! Happy Valentines Day!

Kindness

DATE A GIRL WHO CARES by Jenni Rempel

Date a girl who cares. Date a girl who spends her money on helping others instead of clothes. She has problems with time because she volunteers her life. Date a girl who has a list of solutions to the so-called “problems” our world faces. A girl who pines for a better future and thinks before she acts.

Find a girl who cares. You’ll know that she does because she will always have a smile on her face and a genuine interest in others. She’s the one lovingly looking over at strangers on the bus, the one who quietly commits random acts of kindness. You see the weird chick making eye contact with others to break these barriers people often put up? That’s one. They can never resist being polite to others and using “please” and “thank you”. You might also catch her recycling, digging through trash in search of lost bottles and cans, or picking up her three pieces of trash.

She’s the girl appreciating all she has while waiting in that coffee shop down the street with her re-usable mug. If you take a peek at her mug, the vegan creamer is floating on top. Sit down. She might be surprised. Ask her why she cares.

Buy her another cup of fair-trade coffee.

Let her know what you really think of war. See if she you have the same definitions of love and indifference. Understand that if she says everything is perfect, she says that with faith and an unwavering sense of shameless idealism. Ask her where she would love to travel to.

It’s easy to date a girl who cares. Donate your time and money to her favorite organization, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of love and listening each day. Give her hope and words of inspiration from Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. Know that you do not need to give her anything for her to appreciate you and be happy. Let her know that you understand that actions are love, and that you choose love. Understand that she knows the difference between dreams and reality but by god, she’s going to live her dreams. It will never be your fault if she fails.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Be honest with her. She will understand and accept the validity of anything you might say. She will not judge you. If she does, she will apologize. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who cares knows that failure always leads up to success. Because girls who care understand that all things are opportunities for learning. That you can always try again. That everything you do is perfect. That life is meant to have these lessons.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who care understand that people grow, and that people are infinite in their potential.

If you find a girl who cares, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM watching a documentary and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if she is part of whichever truth brings her sadness, because she is.

You will propose on a volunteer trip. Or at a protest. Or very casually next time you’re at the local farmer’s market.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids who eat healthy and have incredibly strong values. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite “her wishes for the world” under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who cares because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most purposeful life imaginable. If you want the world and the beautiful future beyond it, date a girl who cares. Because she’ll love you. Because she cares.

The Atheist says God is Love

God Is Love

At the end of the summer I took this awesome course about relationships with Matthew and Terces, the founders of Cafe Gratitude (more info about what I took away here, here and here) and one of the coolest things they showed me is that God is love.

I do not consider myself to be a Christian person and I often used to feel uncomfortable at religious gatherings or when people would talk about their concept of God. I have realized how limiting this is. When I do that I miss out on so much inspiration and there is a whole part of existence I cannot connect with.

In any religious passage, I can replace “god” or “jesus” or “allah” or any word like that, with LOVE! I find this very inspiring and uplifting. Here are some example:

Genesis 1:22
God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”

BECOMES

Love blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”

Psalm 121:7-8
The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

BECOMES

Love will keep you from all harm— love will watch over your life; Love will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 9:9 
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

BECOMES

Love is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Regardless of your culture, age, religion or spiritual belief I hope we can all agree that love is a powerful thing. Go forth, love others.

I love you!

xoxox

Jenni

Speaking and Life Goals… inspired via the SFU Leadership Summit

Keynote, Dreamforce 2011, San Francisco
For Keynote Speaking…

Notes to self:

  • THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH. I am only sharing my perspective and giving people an opportunity to take what they like and leave the rest.
  • Do a Mic Check – and listen to the audience. (maybe even have point people, so that I can hear them if there is speaking or interacting)
  • Encourage live tweeting! Have a hashtag!
  • Improv style! Audience participation.
  • I want to elicit responses that matter! Why am I asking this? What am I looking for (and if I am looking for something then I probably shouldn’t be asking). Why ask the rhetorical question?
  • Drop the details.
  • CLEAR Communication.
  • Know facts, don’t talk about stuff you don’t know.
  • Sometimes there is an awkwardness with audience participation. I want to create an environment which avoids shame/embarrassment and creates a level of comfort.

For Workshops…

Notes to self:

  • Humility: is the quality of being modest and respectful.
  • This is your session. Think of this room as Vegas.

Things I want to learn about:

History of Leadership – ie: Gandhi

I REALIZED…

I want to create a world without hunger and malnutrition…but what DO I want… hmm…

I want to create a nourished world. In every sense of the world.

I like working with: kids, film, design, social change, dancing, leadership

So that’s me at the moment.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN?