How you can help to capture Kony, the world’s worst criminal

By Contributor Daryl Geffken

Disclaimer: I’m not sure if I have enough clout with you to ask for this type of investment. I’m asking you for the time it takes to read this post and an additional 30 minutes within the next 24 hours. What you do with the return is up to you. 

Daryl Geffken

I’ve been linked with World Vision and Invisible Children for more than eight years now. I believe in holistic community development, the reduction of global disparity and the increase of opportunity for all people in the world. I am working at distilling principles that can help influence a form of egalitarianism the world has as of yet not seen.

Recently the organization known as Invisible Children released a 30-minute video —Kony 2012 — with the sole intent of mobilizing Internet savvy people around the globe to make Joseph Kony  famous. Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa. He is currently listed as the No. 1 perpetrator of crimes against humanity. The reason for this campaign is to elevate Kony’s profile to a point that policy makers in the United States will act to capture Kony and end his influence.

Joseph Kony/Wikipedia

Being familiar with the marketing from Invisible Children, I expected this to be overproduced and to have manipulative music and pictures. In some ways, this expectation was realized. However, their action plan is simple, it’s realistic and it’s socio-savvy. And it is worth your energy

First, watch Kony2012 (above). It’s 30 minutes long.

Now, as good Americans, we all can justify about anything. And my fear is that many people, after participating with this video, will lay down roadblocks to prevent or justify their inaction. So, I’ve tried to imagine what these roadblocks may be and offer a rebuttal: I hope to remove them, so that holistic growth will occur around this issue.

Pessimism: it won’t work, people will forget, just like Haiti, just like Japan, just like… yep. People forget. Yet people have found great ways to remember as well. Tying a string around your wrist helps you remember what you have prioritized (shockingly, Invisible Children has a bracelet that will fulfill this very role, but you don’t need to buy a trendy thing). Putting a daily reminder on your phone, or wunderlist, or Outlook, or mirror, will help you remember. Don’t sell yourself short on this. It’s not that hard.  Yes, others will forget; you will remember.

Apathy: it doesn’t have the far-reaching effects these people suggest. Is this the pivotal moment upon which a generation or two will hang their hat? I’m not sure. This cause is the not the ultimate goal of my vocation: I seek to help eradicate global disparity. But this is a step in that direction. The reality of this cause is: children being abducted fuel the power-lust of a man or group of men. Atrocities have been committed for 26 years that would not be tolerated for even a month in other parts of the world — places you and I live. Anchorwoman Susan Moeller is quoted as saying, “In the news business, one dead fireman in Brooklyn is worth five English bobbies, who are worth fifty Arabs, who are worth five hundred Africans.” In the last 50 years, 400 million people worldwide have died from hunger and poor sanitation. This is three times the number of people killed in all wars fought during the 20th century, yet the coverage is minimal at best compared to conflict. You feel disconnected from this? I have said before and will continue to argue that we must connect ourselves with the lives of others; others we would typically not choose.  I believe our compassion grows in relation to its direct contact with suffering. We must find ways of engaging and deeply listening to the stories of others and then finding creative ways to allow those stories to find a larger voice.

Distraction: yes, I think this is a good cause, so I will… wait, did I just get a text? My last post indicated the bond I have with my boys. Like most people, I believe I would maintain a singular focus to help them if some crisis “interrupted” their normal life. Are the children highlighted by this cause yours? No. Does that make a difference? Yes. And yet, I can’t help but ask, who will stand in the gap for them at this moment? Why not you?  Why not me?

Disagree with the premise: if you cut off the head, the snake will die, or with supporting Invisible Children, or supporting a military option to solve the problem. These are all legitimate concerns. This does tend to oversimplify the solution. Invisible Children is not asking for Kony’s death, but his capture and trial. Let’s add voices to the viral spread of this cause to help this cause mature. I do think it has merit. The wisdom of this campaign is shown by its timeline. This is a short-lived push. It is designed to accomplish a singular goal that is largely beneficial to the world community. You don’t want to stay up all night and canvas a community with posters? No worries. Go to the website and  contact the culture makers or the policymakers on the page. It’s not hard and it has effect!

Alienated by the video: you understood the underlying tone that the younger generation is doing the right thing while your generation is stodgy and full of worry due to change.  I have to ask you: is your ego and justification of a nuanced and wise perspective more important than this cause? If you are honest with yourself: no. Suck it up. I’m older than I look and I am certainly not the target audience of three hipster California boys who accidently landed in the middle of a cause that has stretched them beyond belief. They are closer to the situation than most. They could use voices of wisdom to help them navigate their journey. Ultimately, it’s not about you or me. It’s about others. Not engaging this movement is not the way to help younger generations.

Invisible Children may not be the best way to solve this dilemma. They are not a traditional NGO in their disbursement of funds. They support a military action. Their communication of information has been labeled as manipulative. Many of the younger people who support Invisible Children are not fully aware of the complexity of issues colliding. This movement is growing and I support a concerted and holistic collaboration to solve it. Don’t dismiss it. Interact with it. Place yourself into the conversation online. Bring up issues and listen to the viewpoints of others. Look for examples of people or methodology who have succeeded in similar causes that could help refine this cause.

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17 responses to “How you can help to capture Kony, the world’s worst criminal

  1. Daryl,
    Thank you for bringing this awesome campaign to our attention. I just watched the video. Everyone else should too.

  2. http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/

    This is worth a read in response or to hold in tension in these complex issues.

  3. I think you can still support their campaign without supporting them financially. As Daryl said, you don’t have to buy the bracelets or the starter kits. If this is what it takes to prompt people into caring and urging them to write lawmakers, I think that’s a good thing 🙂

  4. Eric, thanks, that is a decent place to start. I would send people in this direction, however. http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/03/07/stop-kony-yes-but-dont-stop-asking-questions/

    • Daryl that article was great, thanks for sharing it. His comment was pretty surprising through:

      “I would also recommend the  Twitter feed of Laura Seay, who was moved to comment this morning that “[Solomme Lemma] is tweeting links to great community-based organizations working in Northern Uganda.  Give there if you really want to help.”
      I guess that sums up the authors thoughts about where to actually give.

      These kind of issues are complex. That’s why there’s a danger in approaching them with simplistic narratives. The challenge is to do the work of investigation, prayerfully discern who and what we partner with and stick with the work for the amount of time needed to see fruit. Confusion is always part of the complexities of justice and mercy work. I’ve seen these issues in the adoption world. There are legit groups and groups using orphans as the means of generating cash. There’s also good intentioned folk doing stuff out of compassion but not wisdom. Looking at charities with Navigator is part of the process but I don’t think it’s the only part. Start ups are always top heavy getting the work going. Lots of resources needed at the beginning and then things shift as you grow. So I think a timeline awareness is needed in the process. We often invest in the workers and see the work emerge ie missionaries. We can’t equate investment and return in all mission equations.

      I’ve watched the Invisible Children movie on these issues, it was a moving film. But, I guess, I really struggle as a missional motivated Chrisitans, with the tendacey of everyday folks stepping over the orphans in their own community to go help the ones over there. I know that both need not be ignored to be faithful to compassion…but they ussually are.

      This weeks paper covered ‘Sally’s House’ and the plight of orphan’s in our own city (http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/mar/05/sallys-house-serves-as-childrens-haven/). I hope we can clean up our own house and then also work on cleaning up our neighbors too.

      We Christian’s will send money, wear bracelts, watch films, repost and tweet with passion but probably wont go adopt one of these foster kids. I know a little is better than nothing…but I struggle with this reality. I hope to live into something that truly reflects justice not just emotional hype. I tend to get juiced on hype and short of longsuffering work of compassion.

      • Eric, I still owe you a response. Thanks for your thoughts. I think we’re not quite on the same page but in the same chapter on these issues. Keep on.

  5. Wow! what a great job, someone at work was talking to me this morning about the fast spreading of this compaign. If only an effort like this was dedicated to the kids of Gaza and other kids victims of war, victims of visible and unvisible dectators.

    • I absolutely agree. I find that I fluctuate between passion to make a difference and heavy dejection when I realize how many people are suffering without a voice. Maybe it is you to bring a voice to Gaza in this way?

  6. Thanks Eric by the way.

  7. Hanane – I agree, if only an effort was in place for the kids in Gaza. Just this week one of my Muslim Facebook friends posted a disturbing photo of a little girl pleading for her life, moments before she was murdered. So sad what’s happening to innocent people all around the globe…

  8. Thanks, Daryl — I’ve been hearing bits and pieces and, like with so many “global” concerns feel overwhelmed by what might be accurate or not. Your blog is helpful for me personally, and I’m sharing it with my congregation in hopes of further broadening perspectives on how we must be aware … remembering, praying, acting as we can even if it’s simply in creating an awareness of the atrocities that continue.

  9. Eric, thanks for the link!

  10. Thomas J. Brown

    Before everyone jumps on the KONY 2012 bandwagon, check out http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/ for some sobering facts about the Invisible Children organization.

  11. People seem more focused on whether or not Invisible Children spends all of their donations properly, and in this process, they forget about the fact that Kony still exists, still kidnaps, tortures, and mutilates children, and still needs to be brought to justice. I predict that this viral movement fizzles out because the majority of people will find out that the ones behind the video are not flawless and pristine saints, and as such, will judge them as untrustworthy, dismissing the entire cause because they are unwilling to accept that humans are inherently flawed.

    We do the same things with our politicians. Sure, I’m a bit disappointed in Obama for not closing Gitmo or getting out of Afghanistan like he promised, but I also look at the good he’s done and I’m willing to forgive the failures in the process of accepting his accomplishments, just as I would hope someone would do for me. As a teacher, I screw up repeatedly, but if 100% of my students judged me by the same standards they apply to public figures & organizations, I would be out of a job tomorrow because they would demand my head on a platter for the 0.002% chance that I have accidentally messed up on someone’s grade in the past. IC is not perfect. It is flawed, as are the rest of us, but I refuse to believe that they are the profiteering warmongers that some of the internet commentators make them out to be.

    Am I some hipster or a bandwagon jumper because I care about children half the globe over and want them to live at peace? No. Am I imposing the so-called “White Man’s Burden” on African issues while ignoring issues here at home? No. I am simply the kid on the beach in the proverbial parable, throwing one starfish after another back into the sea, knowing that I am making a difference for at least one at a time. I am a proud father of four wonderful blessings, and if these kids in Africa were my children, which they could just as easily be, I would want more than a billion people on my side, ready to rush to their defense, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass how that came to pass.

    Sorry for the rant, but I’ve been contemplating Mother Teresa’s quote, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” There’s not enough forgiveness in the world today and too much vile blame. Be willing to look past the errors and disagreements and agree that justice must be served, for inaction is just as indefensible as approval.

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