Invisible Children, the nonprofit behind the Kony 2012 viral campaign has clearly touched a nerve, with the amount of passionate public debate that has taken over the newsfeeds.
And the campaign has generated a variety of debates – from what activism means in 2012 (is it just clicking “like” on Facebook?) to how charities and causes use social media to promote their messages.
As a filmmaker and philanthropist myself, these topics have provided me with a lot to reflect on. I came across this beautiful thought, from Stephanie Rudat on The Huffington Post:
“Whether rightly or wrongly, Invisible Children has made it cool to care about Uganda. Perhaps the organization and its work speak to you, perhaps it doesn’t. What is certain is that there is currently unprecedented enthusiasm among the people whom Kony 2012 spoke to – the young. This is a critical opportunity to engage them and to help channel their enthusiasm to learn more and be better global citizens. And they don’t deserve to be criticized for caring.”
Isn’t that true? This is a great teaching moment for us. We need to connect with our youth, not attack them. It’s incredible that this generation, who we frequently accuse of apathy, are actively engaging in some of the world’s toughest issues.
So how can we help guide the next generation of volunteers, philanthropists, movers and shakers?
1. Help youth check their “Inner Narcissist” when it comes to charity.
As it becomes cool to be an activist for a cause, kids begin to feel good about giving back. However, this can be an open door for their Narcissist Impostor to step through! It’s important to help youth combat the temptation to develop a superiority complex around charitable acts.
Here’s one exercise that you can share with young volunteers who may have the “Narcissist” Impostor: Volunteer for a few hours or create an act of kindness. . . and then don’t take credit for it. Journal about your experience and how you felt. Were you tempted to share the story of your good deed with someone else? Why? Was it different doing something that you knew would not be recognized by others?
2. Help Them Connect With Their Authentic Souls.
I have met a lot of people through my non-profit organization, Whispers From Children’s Hearts. One recurring theme that I’ve noticed is that people who are not necessarily interested in charity get involved because they want to please or be loved by a love interest, partner, parent, friend, etc. They claim to be interested then drop the cause after their relationship ends. These kinds of “fair weather” volunteers suffer from the “Wounded Inner Child.”
Here’s one exercise that you can share with volunteers who have the “Wounded Inner Child” Impostor: Give them a journaling assignment where they write a script between themselves and someone they serve. For example, I had a volunteer write a script where their character spoke to a child living at an orphanage, explaining why he didn’t like volunteering. By writing down his own excuses, he was forced to hear how unconvincing they were and began to realize the harm he had unintentionally caused!
Even our charitable actions can be harmful to others . . . and ourselves! By going through the motions of giving back without allowing your Authentic Soul to truly connect with the work, you cheat yourself of one of the most rewarding experiences of being human.
I sincerely hope to see some of you volunteers, organizers, and philanthropists at my Soul Blazing™ workshop March 31st-April 1st, and we’ll touch on this too!
Remember . . . Shift Happens!