doing good

I haven’t watched the Kony video.

In my blog reader today (which always gives me much to consider …often too much!) I came across a few wonderful posts that collectively work together on illuminating some of our social behaviors.  The idea of ‘doing the right thing’ seems so simple, and yet….  To set things up, here’s a few snippets from Ethan Zukerman’s post on the complexity of the Kony video/campaign:

“We are asked to join the campaign against Kony literally by being spoken to as a five year old.  It’s not surprising that a five year old vision of a problem – a single bad guy, a single threat to eliminate – leads to an unworkable solution. Nor is it a surprise that this extremely simple narrative is compelling and easily disseminated. — The video has a profound “story of self” that makes it possible for individuals to connect with and relate to.  And Invisible Children constructs a narrative where we can help, and where we’re shirking our responsibility as fellow human beings if we don’t help. —  The problem, of course, is that this narrative is too simple.”

Danah Boyd’s blog discusses the way social media was organized around the video (or rather how we organized it I suppose) as well as the effectiveness of our desires to ‘do good’ when approached from a seemingly simple and altruistic standpoint:

“I’m not surprised by the presence of religious language in the accounts of those who tweeted this message. I very much suspect that a lot of what made this pop has to do with strong pre-existing Christian networks. I’m always surprised at how often people in the tech community regularly underestimate the power of religious networks. — I’m glad that NPR and a few other news organizations have sought out Ugandan/African perspectives, but none of those perspectives have broken through the tornado of chaos that has followed this event. So I can’t help but wonder… with the rise of attention philanthropy, are we going to see a new type of attention colonialism?

Finally, this new TedTalk by Jonathan Haidt posits that our need to ‘do good’ is more than a simple, unselfish desire that brings us together through action.  Instead, through this unity we in essence create what we’ve come to define as spirituality.  As he quotes from Émile Durkheim… “Anything that unites us takes on an air of sacredness.”  He goes on later in his talk to discuss the possibility of religion being an evolutionary process.

‘Doing good’ …it’s so simple in intention yet complex in practice.
Or should that be the other way around?

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