What the Kony 2012 Video Can Teach Saudi Arabia’s Greens

saudi arabia recycling sign
Let’s admit it: the Kony Video is big. With more views in a week than any other TV show and YouTube video showing a number usually reserved for the latest antics of the Kardashian Clan, the video has quickly and effectively managed to communicate its message. The controversies surrounding the cause as pointed out by some people have not done much damage to the viral status of the video. Looking at the video and following the ensuing responses, both good and bad, I believe that Saudi Arabia‘s movement for environmental conservation and green living can take some rather valuable lessons from the epic success of the Kony Video.

1. Make it Personal: Most green advocates in the kingdom view environmental conservation as a development issue. They focus on the water scarcity, the ozone layer, the littered beaches, and the eroding coastlines which are all rather impersonal issues. For an idea or cause to gain support, it has to hit a nerve, it has to make people think of the impact, the way it affects their lives and future. The Kony video adds the personal element to the whole issue and intertwines splendidly with the life of the maker and his son. It makes you think why this issue matters, it makes you worry that it could have been your son!

2. Show Some Emotions: The Kony video captures the emotions, the tears and horrors of the children living in fear of Kony in such a way that you can’t help but feel emotionally drawn to the cause. Even if you don’t live in Uganda or you don’t have kids, you sense the injustice and feel compelled to do something about it. Environmental campaigns in Saudi Arabia are mostly events and initiatives devoid of any human emotions. They address the practical side of the green movement, not the human side. The Kony reminds us that change is brought about by humans; humans who are not always pursued by logic but by emotions and in order for them to make a positive change, they need to be emotionally compelled to action that change.

Kony 2012 Video (violent graphics warning):

3. Tell Stories: This is perhaps the most crucial element in the success of any social cause; telling stories. Stories that move, inspire and prompt people to take action. The Kony video (which you can watch above) starts like a story; the viewer feels drawn to the intricate plot, the twists and turns of the tale, the joys and sorrows of the characters. That involvement alone wins half the battle. Any green campaign needs stories that make it seem practical and affordable. There are plenty of success stories in the kingdom and if these stories are brought to the surface, they will serve both as an inspiration and as impetus for positive environmental change.

4. Create Champions: The Kony campaign has an impressive group of champions; from celebrities to policy makers to college students. These people have an influence over general public and they use their influence to champion a great cause. We need such champions in Saudi Arabia too who use their power of persuasion as a driver for change. These champions also serve as a banner under which different entities can join hands to put concerted efforts into making the green movement work.

I did take out my (OK my husband’s) credit card in a jiffy after watching the movie even though the cause is still rife with controversies.

Despite many arguments over the genuineness of the cause, the Kony 2012 has managed to create huge impact and I am one of the many affected ones. What about you?  What are some of the other lessons you think green movements can learn from the video?

Top image of Saudi recycling movement from Shutterstock

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