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.
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.
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.