These posts have been exploring Invisible Children and the Kony2012 film. Though I am a supporter of IC, I too have certain concerns. However, my concerns are overwhelmed by the incredible pushback and criticism. There will be even more now since one of the founders, Jason Russell (and narrator the film) was taken into custody for public intoxication, public nudity and public masturbation, among other reports. He has been hospitalized and you can read more here. In the meantime, we should be in prayer for Jason, his family, the organization among other things. It would do us good to remember our humanity and the urgent needs that exist near and far.
Regarding the criticisms, if you have been reading along you’ll know that I feel some are off-base while some are certainly legitimate and in need of dialogue. I hope these posts add perspective and further conversation because at the end of all of this, help is needed in Central Africa (here and throughout out world).
I am grateful that I live in an age where I can read what someone on the other side of the world thinks about a video. I have been reading articles and watching videos as much as I appropriately can. I too believe that it is absolutely essential to listen to the perspectives of those in Uganda and throughout Central Africa.
And what I’m hearing are multiple things but I’ll try to compartmentalize them into two, simply for and simply against. I of course was moved when one young man, who lost four brothers and one of his arms was quoted in saying, “How can anybody expect me to wear a T-shirt with Kony’s name on it?’.
I couldn’t imagine losing my brother. Further for this man in such a tragic circumstance, it’s not appropriate to explain the campaign to him. It’s necessary for us to see that brothers and sisters are being taken away in our backyards and throughout our world. It’s necessary, not just to appreciate them and to be faithful with the relationships we’ve been blessed with; it’s also necessary that we serve the many needs near and far, and that includes helping others keep their brothers and sisters.
The other voice I hear is someone thankful that this issue is getting the attention that it deserves. We can’t ignore that voice either (or a different take on the same scene reported by this NY Daily News article). Further, we can’t ignore voices like Col. Felix Kulayigye, the spokesman for Uganda’s military who said, “The most exciting thing about this film is that I’m so grateful that the world has been able to pay attention to an issue that has long been neglected, I think it is an eye-opener and I think this will push for Joseph Kony to be apprehended, and I think justice will get to him.” More here.
So what does one do? Is the film good or bad? Is wanting to help good or bad? These are all complicated questions, they’re not yes or no but offering to appropriately help seems the ilke the “righter” to do. Should we be told to get out, we should honor that too.
My sense is a lot of the pushback is an expression of the hurt. What I’m hearing is “Where were you years ago?” Though I can no longer find the link amidst all the digital chaos, I heard an interview when someone said Invisible Children should have been doing this 10-15 years ago. Unfortunately, the founders were still in high school. I don’t expect her to know that but it reveals a bit of how America is perceived, people who can help and of course, it would have been ideal if they could have helped at the desired time. I think this is the next best thing. Certainly earlier would have been much better, but now will be better than later.
Some have said Kony is no longer in Uganda. That’s true but two things. First, he’s somewhere, he’s still alive and needs to be brought to justice. And second, worse, he is still terrorizing (in the Congo). I’ve heard some in Uganda say it’s not their problem any more and my heart breaks for what that soul must have been through. I’ve also heard some say we need to stop him so others don’t go through what they went through. I believe we need to honor the latter and pray for the hurt of the former.
But perhaps my biggest critique is using this rhetoric against the film to excuse us out of helping at all. I’m not saying that all who are critiquing are guilty of this, I’m saying some are using the rhetoric to excuse themselves and continue on as if it has no relevance to them. Critique is needed. The film/organization/supporters have its flaws but if we are waiting for the “perfect campaign” not only will more people get hurt, it’s never going to happen. Let’s do better work, let’s listen better, serve alongside, let’s fund (this and other organizations), let’s pray. Certainly let’s not give up and do nothing.
So where does that leave us? I offer this to my small, limited yet powerful audience. Stay involved in some way. It’s a legitimate need. Let’s help until/unless we’re asked not to. Perhaps in this moment, it would do us well to take a step back, wait until the cause is no longer fashionable and seek to get involved again. It seems to me that if we take too far a step back for too long of a time, those in Central Africa will only feel even further hurt and abandonment. Let us be patient, persistent and passionately for at the very least, offering to help those in need.
Whether through this video or in spite of it, word has got out that there are many needs. In addition to finding Kony, Central Africa needs help in the forms of education, rebuilding its infrastructure, rehabilitation for former child soldiers, even help with this mysterious phenomenon called “nodding disease”. There’s plenty to do and many ways to help.
Here are some Christian and charitable organizations that work with the victims of the LRA conflict in northern Uganda & Central Africa. (thanks Christianity Today)
Far Reaching Ministries
Save the Children
Jesuit Refugee Service
Write your congressman: www.house.gov/writerep