“Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst war criminals and I support the international effort to arrest him, disarm the LRA and bring the child soldiers home”
It happened overnight. Or so it seemed. A viral outburst of tweets and Facebook shares linking to a 30-minute documentary video of one man’s goal to make Joseph Kony a household name.
And almost as immediately as #StopKony and #Kony2012 went viral, resistance to the idea and to the video and to the initiative popped up, also in the form of tweets and Facebook shares linking to blog posts.
It’s the nature of the beast: How the Internet works, how a democracy works, how freedom of speech works.
And there is no disagreement that Joseph Kony is a terrible, terrible beast. You would have to be to abduct children, indoctrinate them as child soldiers and force them to mutilate other human beings.
So of course, “I signed the pledge to help bring Kony to justice in 2012,” as many others have. I signed because he deserves to be brought to justice, and nobody with a pulse should be able to argue with that. (How he is brought to justice may be debatable, but even then, I’m not sure it could really be argued with any authority, nor can I see it garnering much support or sympathy.)
I watched the movie this morning, and saw this site this afternoon, which – in a nutshell – questions the authenticity and “ethics” of the #Kony2012 movement.
This is missing the point.
Take Joseph Kony out of the equation, and replace him with any war criminal. Take out the fact that money was spent to make the documentary. And take out the fact that there are other atrocities occurring in our world, and that those may be atrocities that you feel are worth spending money to fight, or warrant being put in the spotlight, but are invisible.
The message of this experiment is not that everyone should feel bad and donate because Joseph Kony is the most terrible person on the planet. The message is that there are people in our world like Kony, and that as citizens of the world, we should not only be aware of this fact, but we should realize that as citizens of the world, we have a human and moral obligation to do something about it: Borders, names, bureaucracy, geography, political affiliation and cultural, religious or ethnic differences aside. It is a much greater cause, and the initiative serves a much greater purpose.
What hit home for me, is the fact that one human being making a promise to another human being has turned into a massively influential grassroots movement that – regardless of what eventually comes of it – has touched so many lives by waking people up to one example of what is going on in the world.
To paraphrase a clip in the video, we shouldn’t be asking ‘who are we’ to take a stand, or question an authority, or fight for what we think is right or just: The question we need to ask is ‘who are we not to?’
#StopKony and #Kony2012 have managed to unite the world with a global discussion about something other than soccer or celebrity, and that is the most powerful thing of all: The idea of an awakened, aware and united global population challenging the way things are, and taking it upon themselves to better the world for the sake of humanity.