Whoever came up with the phrase, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach” was clearly on to something.
In the affirmative sense the phrase indicates that as we get older, we lose the strength needed to accomplish, so we move into the realm of teaching, encouraging the younger and more able-bodied to use their strength to accomplish.
In the pejorative, or “insultive”, sense the adage also aptly defines certain able bodied people who have no interest in “doing”- because they prefer talking.
As a known talker, with a great propensity for inactivity, I’d like to propose adding a third “Those Who” to the mix.
If you were paying attention to an internet device yesterday you probably saw, or read, about a viral video produced by the non-profit advocacy group “Invisible Children”.
The video was intended to launch a campaign to instigate global awareness about an African dictator, who abuses children, and appeal for his removal through foreign intervention.
Yesterday they got a lot of views.
A lot of people heard their message.
Now people are responding.
Today, people know about the civil war in Uganda and the tragedy of child soldiers and sexual abuse that has taken place there. They also know the names of Joseph Kony and his LRA.
Today we also get the opportunity to watch the backlash against the non profit behind the awareness campaign.
You might be wondering why people, especially global think-tanks and watchdog organizations, would be critical of a group like Invisible Children?
To be fair, they may have some valid points. As wealthy outsiders who occasionally travel into Uganda, the folks at IC can’t have a fully informed view of what is truly going on there, and what the proper and effective solutions should be.
Because of this their desires and methods may contain elements of paternalism and colonialism (white people can solve this problem if the Africans just get out of the way).
They are also heavily criticized by “responsible journalists” for oversimplifying the Ugandan situation and using “emotionalism” to rally people to their cause.
While these arguments, at their core, may have some validity, let’s not forget that the people at Invisible Children are not actually villains.
They are simply people who were willing to do something about child abduction and abuse when very few others were.
The people at Invisible Children aren’t journalists making fair and balanced documentaries.
They aren’t politicians in the business of nation building.
They aren’t an ethics panel looking to enforce a moral homogeny and consistency.
They are people using what strength they have to stop a very specific form of evil.
IC looked into the face of a wickedness that robs, then kills, and ultimately destroys, and had the courage to act… when even talking was discouraged.
Invisible Children are film makers. They have the power to tell stories, and that is the power that they leveraged this week.
Was it an emotional appeal?
Absolutely, all great stories are.
Was it comprehensive?
Absolutely not, no great story can be.
Was it perfect?
Did it have to be?
You don’t have to know everything about a situation to do something about it… and the people of Invisible Children know a lot more than most.
You also don’t have to have every answer before you begin working to find a solution, especially when the innocence of children is at stake.
Every outside opinion on Africa is going to contain elements of colonialism. That doesn’t automatically make the opinion wrong.
It’s very easy to pick apart IC because they have actually created something that can be picked apart…
…as opposed to just talking about the problem.
Which brings me back to that “Third Who” I’d like to add to the saying.
Those who can, do.
Those who can’t, teach.
And those who won’t?
They can only criticize.
It’s always easier to talk than do.
Feel free to watch the 30 minute video below: