The other day, I saw a few people on Facebook linking to a video and writing "KONY 2012" in their status updates. Eh... I wasn't interested in clicking to watch the video. Or finding out what it was, even. I simply had no interest in whatever "meme" was going around Facebook at the time. Then, my cousin invited me to some event... "Cover the Night". She's extremely musical, and I just figured this was one of her local cafe performance nights. I mean, honestly? I just figured she was singing cover songs.
It wasn't until a blogger posted a link to the video with a powerful quote: "Where you live should not determine how you live". Wow. That made me curious about what this video possibly was. I love profound quotes, you see.
I watched the entire 30 minutes, tears in my eyes, completely enthralled. Pressure and anxiety built up in my chest. I felt a CALL TO ACTION! I felt I COULD BE POWERFUL! I COULD HELP THESE KIDS!
I had, simply put, a very emotional response to a very emotional video. I began to share the video, on my own Facebook and Twitter. I signed the petition.
Then I began reading links from other Twitter users using the #Kony2012 tag. I began to read a lot of criticism over this whole thing. You're social media savvy, I'm sure, you know exactly what the criticism is by now. Invisible Children only uses 31% of its revenue for on-the-ground support. Invisible Children is funding a violent, military action as the answer to this problem. Invisible Children is not a "visible charity" for its supporters. Ugandans are outraged over how they their country is portrayed.
I'm an educated person, though I will be the first to admit that politics has never been a strong area for me. I never seem to fully understand or feel engaged in political issues. I do my best, but it just doesn't click for me. My biggest strength, however? Social-emotional issues.
You guys... we ARE a global community. We are more connected than the world has ever been, through the power of the Internet. To me, it's a beautiful thing to see this video go viral, raising awareness around the world about atrocities that have been happening for TWENTY-SIX years. Even with its criticism, that's beautiful too. The debate it has sparked! The fact we CARE to debate it! The research that is happening, a global call-to-arms to hunt and search for The Best Charities to work with to support this cause.
Frankly, no matter where in the world it is happening, children deserve our protection. Children should NOT be victims, and children deserve childhood. Health, happiness, love, food, care, and a place to sleep where they do not fear kidnapping, slavery, and rape.
Well, children aren't the only ones who deserve that, it's all basic human rights. However, children... the innocence of childhood... it is especially wrong to hear that an evil man and an evil regime ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD is targeting children.
When I watch that video? I am not thinking about the country of Uganda, specifically. I know many Ugandans are embarrassed and upset over this video -- they do not want their country portrayed the wrong way. Yes, Kony left Uganda in 2006. I am telling you RIGHT NOW... that video DID NOT cause me to have any thoughts over the state of Uganda as a country.
The video caused me to want to share the knowledge, to everyone around the world, that something terrible is happening on our planet. Something terrible is happening to OUR global family. We have voices, and it is the voices of the few brought together loudly and proudly that brings awareness, which then breeds actions. For major change to happen, for a Most Wanted Criminal to be caught, policy-makers and people of "power" and "influence" need to get involved... let's face it, we know that. But it is OUR voices, the voices of "the public", the "average people", that push those higher powers to act.
We SHOULD look for bias, and critique EVERY organization in order to ensure they are doing The. Best. Job. for the cause they believe in. That is GOOD, it shows that we care and are smart, that we are critical thinkers. However, I don't think we should sweep this Kony 2012 thing under the rug just because there are some criticisms.
Someone in our world has been hurting children for the entire duration of my life so far. Frankly, while I now think I may have heard snippets about this before, I have never connected or tried to learn any more about it until NOW. That holds true for a lot of people. This campaign is amazing. This campaign is changing our world as we know it. This campaign is reminding us all, no matter what our culture is, that we are family. We care for our own, and "our own" is the entire. human. race.
Push those policy-makers, those people in power, to care about stopping this man. Push for change, for safety for children everywhere. Whether or not you believe in Invisible Children, and I'm personally not sending money to them just so you know, at least keep spreading the word, keep researching, keep hunting for charities you can believe in who do real good for causes you believe in.
Keep acting, rather than sitting idly by. Get inspired, and inspire the youth of today. Encourage people to jump out of their seats in outrage over causes they care about. Awareness is the seed of action. Raise awareness for what YOU believe in.
Then find the next thing that rattles your cage, and do the same for that. This is idealistic, this is naive, whatever you want to complain about, whatever! Stop complaining, and get DOING. This is human-to-human love. And, damn it, I am on board with being a part of this. THIS is a world I want to be a part of, and want to believe in.
Sure, I'm a white, Canadian person who wants to better the world. I haven't had a hard life, that's for sure. That's a controversial topic in itself. But guess what? Regardless of what I look like or how I've lived, I should WANT to better the world. So should you. I cannot see you through my computer, but GOD I hope you want to better the world no matter what you look like or where you were born. We can be powerful. YOU can be powerful. How will YOU be powerful?
You might really hate this Kony campaign, and that's fine. But at least consider this... what can YOU do to be powerful? What causes DO get you to jump out of YOUR seat in outrage? How are you contributing to our global village, even in a small way? How are you teaching the children of today, to be powerful leaders of tomorrow?
At the very least, let this controversial event remind us all that somewhere out there are causes for us to care about, to learn about, to act on. I teach my students this: you are fortunate, you are allowed to feel your good fortune, that is how you'll appreciate it. But your responsibility as a person with good fortune is to find a way to share it. Your responsibility is to take your happiness, and spread it however you can to as many people as you can. That's being charitable, that's being giving, that's believing in something. We all need to believe in something.
We need to remember and pass on the powerful words of Mahatma Gandhi: "Be the change you want to see in the world."