The other day I posted about the “Kony 2012” campaign which Invisible Children has unleashed against Joseph Kony – a war criminal who has built an army from children, and who has slaughtered thousands in the east-central parts of Africa (like Uganda, Sudan, and the Congo).
A lot of other people have also written about this campaign. Some have praised the efforts of Invisible Children, but most have blasted the campaign as being useless and ignorant. I’ve read some of these postings and want to share some thoughts about what’s being said and what’s not being said. Three blog posts I want to point out: two on the blog justiceinconflict by Patrick Wegner and Mark Kersten, and the other by Invisible Children.
The Harm of the Campaign
Critics propose that the “KONY 2012” campaign falls short in a lot of areas, and that the campaign actually does more harm than good. I agree and disagree with their conclusions.
Patrick Wegner makes some good points:
According to their words Joseph Kony is using his remaining men and the abducted children and women as human shields to protect him from being captured or getting killed. So the very pressure to arrest Kony generated by advocacy campaigns like this is actually contributing to him keeping up a steady stream of abductions.
[T]he advocacy campaign is once again only targeting the symptoms of a deeper problem … Kony is able to wage his brutal campaign [because these places] are ungoverned, do not have any infrastructure, and can only be described as one big security vacuum. Once Kony is removed from the battlefield, armed bandits or other rebel groups will sooner or later his place and the slaughtering in this part of the world will just go on as long as the real problems are not tackled.
Mark Kersten goes further in this line of thought, and questions who benefits more: the people or the African governments, who are just as guilty for such crimes.
When I was in Uganda (2009), I talked with people about their government’s corrupt presence and policies. I have no doubt that Uganda’s government, along with other governments, share in the guilt of these crimes. I would also agree that “KONY” is a bigger issue than just one man and his soldiers. The more we seek after him, the more inclined he’ll be to abduct kids for his own campaign. We need to rethink the strategy. How do we stop a mad man without causing more harm to innocent children and families? How do we go about installing lasting change in an area that doesn’t know, or expect, any difference?
We can’t simply advocate for reform, and host a media campaign to stop Kony, but then stop there. Campaign’s don’t bring about change; impassioned people, who will resolve to stop at nothing, bring about change. However, the question of what makes these people impassioned needs to be asked.
The simple answer: campaigns like “KONY 2012” do.
The Good of the Campaign
What I like about the “KONY 2012” campaign, is that it invites everybody to do something. This media blitz is something that nearly every person – young and old – can participate in. As Invisible Children (IC) says, “the goal … is for the world to unite to see Kony arrested and prosecuted for his crimes against humanity.” How much, or how little, one wants to get involved beyond this is up to the person. I’m sure the hope of IC is to more people engaged than not engaged in the campaign. Still, people are asked to do what they can with what they have. Make Kony known to the world around them.
While critics say that Kony doesn’t need to be known, as he is already “famous” enough, I say that he isn’t world-known – at least in much of America. I didn’t know who he was. I knew about the children armies, but not about Kony. This campaign, the “KONY 2012” video, has helped bring me up to date about an issue happening way too long. I’m sure many other Americans can say the same thing.
While there is much to be done, and much to be re-thought, at least we’re becoming aware and stepping up to help fight injustice. Helping promote this campaign won’t necessarily hurt anyone, but not sharing it will.
Taking Bigger Steps
Here are some other ways you can educate yourself about this conflict and help take a stand against a barbaric man.
Watch our government discuss the reasons to continue their presence in Uganda. Point 4:04 gives a very brief overview of Kony and the mess he has created:
Learn more about Invisible Children, seek God’s guidance, and see how you can get involved deeper:
Our programs are carefully researched and developed initiatives by incredible members of the local community that address the need for quality education, mentorship, the redevelopment of schools, resettlement from IDP camps, and rehabilitation from war. If you know anyone who has been there to see it first hand, there is no doubt they will concur. Also, we have invited you to join us on www.LRACrisisTracker.com, which we established as a way to bring you near real-time reports from the ground, making available to the public the same information received by humanitarians working on the ground.
If you are interested in helping kids who have been rescued from Kony’s army, check out these awesome orphanages in Uganda.
I totally agree with this statement from IC: “Let’s focus on what matters, and what we DO agree on: Joseph Kony needs to be stopped. And when that happens, peace is the limit. This is the beautiful beginning of an ending that is just the beginning. We are defending tomorrow. And it’s hopeful.”