Thursday, March 8, 2012

Three Cups of Tea, Kony 2012, Transparency & Responsibility

Recently a video "Kony 2012" has been spread rapidly online. I have seen it myself on my Facebook wall about 20 times in the last 24 hours alone. I became curious and started looking into it. I watched the video and it was compelling. If you haven't seen the video here it is.

There is no question it is moving and motivational. There is also no question about the terrible things that are happening to children in Uganda and nations bordering. I too join the makers of the movie in wanting to stop all such terrible things to children anywhere they may live.

As I continued to research I also began finding articles that were calling into question the charity it self. Here is a sample of one such article. I was struck again by the interesting times in which we live. Items spread so quickly online and trust is so important. It seems we forward things on that our friends share because we have a high level of trust. Additionally, we trust organization who produce such moving content as the Kony 2012 campaign has done. As a result we all want to help and many do.

In response to the critical news about the organization the founder drafted the following. Whether the organization is telling the truth or not time will tell. I am not writing this to say who is right or who is wrong. However, this episode reminded me of the "Three Cups of Tea" controversy. Here is the organization and a wonderfully inspiring video.

Now here is a video that uncovered some problems with the truthfulness and legitimacy of the organization.

I don't think I have much to say about who is telling the truth in any of these cases. I just find it interesting how important truth, honesty, integrity, transparency, and responsibility have become. Clearly these principles have always been important. However, in the past it was easier to hide if you were telling a lie, being dishonesty, not keeping your word, hiding information, and evading accountability. Today's viral messaging tools and our high level of connectivity is dissipation many of the past "dark spots" of our lives. What once could be easily hidden is now much more difficult to keep hidden.

It is also interesting that today the same tools that help spread your cause or mission are the same tools that could eventually bring you down if you or your organization is not truthful. Hiding from the truth is becoming much more difficult and I think we can all be glad for that. We probably all could stand to strive for a bit more integrity.

For further reading on how to develop honesty and integrity here are some of my favorite talks:

Three Towels and 25 Cent Newspaper
Personal Integrity
Be Honest

I also have really enjoyed the concepts taught in the book "The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability." One day I will write a post about this book, it is one of my favorite.

P.S. I have written about this topic in the past here and here but I also thought to just mention; I am hopeful that in addition to the increased level of honesty required in our day that an equal increase in forgiveness will also be seen. We all make mistakes and now many more of our mistakes will be out for everyone to see. I know mercy can't rob justice yet I hope for an increase in mercy as more of our individual/organizational imperfections come to light.

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