If you haven’t seen it yet, there is a movement online called Kony2012 that has gone viral regarding the horrors of child soldiers under Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army).
Here is the video from the advocacy group Invisible Children that has been at the forefront of it all:
The response has been swift and people have been sharing, Tweeting, and reposting the video by the thousands…
So much so, that blogs and articles have begun appearing which purport to offer criticism of the whole Kony2012.com movement and Invisible Children in particular.
Here is one such criticism, entitled “Visible Children” which seeks to point out the dishonest or irresponsible actions taken by IC.
Here is a similar critical article (with more profane language) by someone who claims to have worked with and for IC and believes they are not helping the situation and are naive/misguided at best.
And a few internet meme images have likewise sprung up poking fun at those who share or tweet about Kony2012:
UPDATE: Here is the official response from Invisible Children to the criticisms brought against them: http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html
So what are we to make of it all? I will offer a few thoughts to Dojo readers for your consideration and to discuss if you’d like:
1. Sadly, this is nothing new. Joseph Kony has been committing the most heinous of crimes against women and children in particular for over a decade. In fact, SIX YEARS AGO Christianity Today did an in-depth article on the situation entitled “Deliver Us From Kony” which went largely ignored by the majority of Americans. You may remember the controversy last year when, after Obama dispatched 100 U.S. military personnel to Uganda to help advise local military there in their efforts to counter the LRA and apprehend Kony, Rush Limbaugh went off on Obama for backing military efforts against “Christians” (Rush was apparently clueless about the LRA and simply took the presence of the word “Lord’s” in their name as evidence that they were a Christian group!). If even one of the most (in)famous talk radio pundits in America was completely ignorant of Kony, how can one blame the general public for not being more aware?? The fact that it took a very well-produced and emotional video and viral marketing campaign by IC to generate any widespread discussion about Kony and the LRA is unfortunate, but not surprising.
2. Invisible Children is primarily an advocacy film-making organization it seems (readers can correct me if I’m wrong on this). As such, the bulk of their costs would naturally go to filming expenses. As an artist I can respect that art is not free or cheap, particularly when it’s on the scale of IC’s Kony2012 campaign. So critics who are upset that IC doesn’t give a high enough percentage of their income to specific outlets are missing the point of the organization at a fundamental level, I believe.
3. Ridiculing someone because they’re “jumping on the bandwagon” of a cause is overly-cynical and reeks of hipster-douchiness. I’ve known about Kony and the LRA for years now, yet I wholeheartedly welcome and rejoice in the fact that someone who knew nothing about the horrors of child soldier groups and Kony in particular yesterday have been stirred to some type of response at IC’s video. To belittle someone because they’re “just now” starting to care about such issues is one of the most unhelpful things imaginable. The ENTIRE POINT of the Kony2012 campaign is to get people to know about and care about something that they have not known about or cared about up until now. This should go without explanation.
4. We should be knowledgeable about what we support…but that shouldn’t lead to cynical paralysis. If someone doesn’t like IC as a group or how they operate or even the solutions they have embraced, that is perfectly acceptable. I know a number of pacifists who reject to IC’s advocacy of military force to bring Kony to justice. That is fine. But that should only spur such individuals on to find and advocate for better solutions rather than wasting time and energy fighting IC’s efforts at raising awareness…which, again, is the PRIMARY PURPOSE of the Kony2012 campaign.
5. We should be thankful that the issue is coming to light! In our ridiculously-insulated, Kardashian-soaked culture of meaningless entertainment and celebrity gossip, it is a wonderful thing when social media is used for noble purposes rather than the trivial nonsense it normally focuses on. The Arab Spring served as an example (whether one celebrates the outcomes or not!) of the power of social media as a vehicle for change on a massive global scale. If the Kony2012 campaign results in Joseph Kony and the horrors he is responsible for becoming common knowledge around the world, then it is absolutely worth it, I believe.
I’ll end with the closing words from the previously mentioned CT article:
Michael Oruni, director of Uganda’s Children of War Rehabilitation Center, told CT he was urging Christians to get involved: “Imagine your own child taken away, being raped as your family is killed in front of your eyes. If it were you, what would you feel like?
“Kids in Uganda—kids just like yours—are taken every night and enslaved, raped, mutilated, murdered. You can make a difference. Talk to your government. Help us.”
How to HELP
Here are key Christian and charitable organizations that work with the victims of the lra conflict in northern Uganda.
Far Reaching Ministries
Save the Children
Jesuit Refugee Service
Write your congressman: www.house.gov/writerep
Here’s a response from Sam Childers (aka. “The Machine Gun Preacher”), an activist that’s worked for years in Uganda/Sudan area that hopefully continues to broaden people’s awareness of the issues involved and moves the international community to take greater steps toward preventing atrocities: