Friday, March 9, 2012

Kony 2012: What It Really Means

This past week a video released by some activists from Invisible Children shedding light on a particularly evil individual who had committed many atrocities against the people of Uganda and more specifically the children of Uganda. By now I am sure you are all aware of this man, Joseph Kony and many of the atrocities he committed. The response to this video was astronomical to say the least. In just a short time it managed to circle its way around the world and back. Suddenly, everybody knew who this man was, what he had done and wanted to help.

In response to this outpouring of support, many people began to question the legitimacy of the video, the campaign and the non-profit itself. Many links began appearing criticizing the video as misleading, false or inaccurate. As these things go, memes began to sprout out of nowhere critiquing the Kony2012 movement and the many people who suddenly supported this cause. Some have gone so far as to ridicule those who have voiced their intent to support and encouraged others as well.

I am not here to talk about either of those two sides. The information surrounding Invisible Children, Joseph Kony, Uganda and everything else is available out there on the inter-web. I encourage you to seek out the information from multiple sources and different viewpoints and then make a decision on what you think. This is something you should always do. No, I am not here to talk about which of these two sides is right or wrong or whatever. I am here however to address any individual who blindly jumped into supporting something of which they knew little about and those who are so quick to judge others who suddenly decide they are activists because they re-posted a video.

Something very important that I think was missed during this whole situation was what the response actually means. The massive response this cause has received will (in my own opinion) not help any more than what is being done to bring Kony to justice. I am no politician, but I have studied history and what I've learned is that if there is no profit to be made, there is no reason to go. We stopped entering wars for the right reasons long ago. 

No, what we, as people need to take from all this isn't even the plight of the Ugandan people (although it is a very important subject and most likely a positive thing that it has received this kind of attention). It is the response. The sheer mass volume of individual people from around the globe, under the premise of charity and goodwill, that came together, however briefly before doubt was brought in, as one. There were no barriers of skin, ethnicity, religion, culture, sex, no barriers at all. 

This is a sign. The people of the world are awakening to the atrocities being committed all around them and ignored by the people in power. They are awakening to a world in which the governments they so blindly gave their faith to, have not only acted contrary to the benefit of the people but have also oppressed them with tyranny and violence. The people of the world are realizing that the old beliefs of class separation, wealth separation, religious separation, geographical separation are flawed and useless. They are starting to understand their empathy.

I must admit that I too, after some research, posted a meme in relation to all those who suddenly jumped on the activist bandwagon after one 30 minute video about something you knew nothing about. I was wrong; seriously wrong. I was ignorant to my above statements. I did not take the time to consider the true meaning of this particular video and cause going viral the way it did. Truth or not, this video inspired people to action. It inspired them to break from the status quo and speak out against perceived evils. They stopped being subject to the system and briefly, they broke free.

What activists and non-activists (and yes I am not sure if I can really call myself an activist but I do at times in reference to the Occupy movement but I have done my own activism in my own ways through the years) who feel offended by this influx in sudden care need to do is see what I came to see. Yes, a large majority of these people will forget about this by next week and most likely never stand up again. But, there is a minority amongst them who were inspired and touched so deeply that they have been forever changed. They are ready to see the full spectrum of deceit that has been pulled over their eyes. They are ready to stand with us; they are ready to learn how to change the world.

I implore of you who feel the way I described in that last line to not be discouraged; do not be put off. A reaction which criticizes your rush to help comes from those who seek recognition for their good deeds when the reward should be the action. A true human who calls themselves an activist working towards a better world would have welcomed and encouraged each and every one of you. For my part in that failure, I apologize with the greatest of sincerity. 

I want to thank a special friend for the inspiration to write this but mostly for the wisdom to teach an old man something. She is one of those that was quick to respond to this video and when I saw the way this negativity was making her question her desire to help this cause I was embarrassed for myself. It is a very joyful thing to know that people do care; that people do want to help; that people do feel a bond for each other regardless of imaginary boundaries or divisions. I want to leave you all with the words that made me realize my ignorance of what had truly transpired: hope was given to all those fighting to change the world because they now know they are not alone, their work is reaching people and the people are now beginning to realize how easy it is to rise up with one another.

"Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I can't start caring."

So thank you Ashley. I hope your words will help change the minds of some of the nay-sayers and critics of you and all the truly amazing human beings who were given an opportunity to rise up and find your voice. Don't ever lose it; we will need you.