So, what do you make of "KONY 2012"?
Early yesterday I noticed on my Facebook page that a lot of my friends recommended a video "Kony 2012". Fearing it was spam, I avoided it until I checked again in the afternoon. By then, it was smattered across my feed, and people had changed their profile pictures to posters of Kony 2012. It was time for me to find out what it was about.
As an aside: I don't often jump on bandwagons, causes, hipster trends, etc. So admittedly, I was a little bit skeptical about the video I was about to watch. Remember, I had no idea who Kony was. See the video here:
I watched the video, and from time to time I wept. I caught my refection in my laptop screen and thought "wow, Jen... this really bothers you... whatcha gonna do about it?"
I thought back to a few years back when I wondered if God wanted me to address the plight of children with regard to violence, child pornography, child slavery... and I had been stumped as to how.
I thought back to the Vancouver Island University seminar I attended recently on human trafficking, and the information I gathered there that still sits on my desk. I thought back to the Watoto Ugandan Children's Choir performance that I went to go see - not once, but twice - bringing friends to come hear stories about children rescued from abandonment, and forced recruitment of child soldiers. I thought about how I was preparing my own son to leave home to help the Watoto village next year.(See www.watoto.com)
The video moved me. It encouraged me to continue in the work I had begun. The fragmented knowledge and desire to do good for the people of Africa seemed to come together. I had no intention of sending a few dollars to their charity, or to participating in "Cover the Night"... all I knew is that I was glad these boys had made the video - and made it so well. I was glad to see that it successfully caught millions of people's attention. I was glad to see that because of their effort even politicians and celebrities were giving it some attention. I was encouraged!
Before I posted the video to my page I looked around to see if there had been any backlash against the Invisible Children Charity. There had been. I wasn't surprised. It seems any organization can be criticized from any angle now a days. Especially when it comes to how money is spent. (Seriously, when will we ever come across any charitable organization that is free from criticism? Unicef? Christian Children's Fund? Red Cross? Your local church? Yeah. Never.)
So, despite knowing what the criticism was, I posted the link to my Facebook page anyway. I changed my profile pic to a poster of "Kony 2012". And then I watched. More friends added the links to their page. But I waited for it...
And it started. Links to blogs criticizing IC, critical articles, webpages started popping up. People were quick to poo on the parade. And, this is what bothers me about it.
The video was not about raising money. It was about raising awareness. And, not in the "wear a pink ribbon to raise awareness for breast cancer" sort of way. (We all know women who have fought the disease. Awareness has been raised! We all are bullied into wearing Pink Shirts on Pink Shirt day to raise awareness about bullying. The irony.) But, prior to my recent personal investigations, I was completely unaware of the system of terror used to snatch children from their parents and force them to fight in the "Lord's Resistance Army". An army led by a former catholic who went on to study with witch doctors. I didn't know that children were required to kill their own parents before they fought. (Presumably so they'd have no one to go back to.) That little girls were raped and then forced into sex slavery. That little boys watched their own brothers die horrible deaths. I didn't know!
And, now that there is a well made video that highlights their plight... I was so glad for the world to see what I've been privately studying, and trying to find solutions for. Very, very briefly in the video, there are mentions about how to support the charity. Nothing like what we're fed with Unicef, CCF, Red Cross, etc. It was clear that awareness was their goal. And, they achieved it. And, I'm glad!
Today, I'm reading the backlash. It's as if people who hesitated to participate yesterday, delved into the world of charity critics are smug today and posting warnings on their friends' pages as if to say "Ha! I can't believe you fell for that! Not me... I'm too smart. But YOU!..."
Folks: I've never completely agreed with the budget of ANY organization I've worked with. Charity or not. Mistakes are GOING to be made. We are people. So are they. BUT... while you are straining the knat... a camel is being swallowed.
How can we turn away from what we now know? Which is the greater sin? That the charity's funds don't suit your preferences, or that an evil man has his army kidnap, rape, mutilate, murder children in the name of God?
It's time to protect children that are not our own. It's time to do something, anything! If all you can do is forward a link, then by all means do! If, despite the warnings about the charity, you choose to send your measly $20 bill, by all means, do! If you can write a letter to your politicians that half way make any sense - DO! If you can send your son overseas to comfort and encourage those very children... do. And I am. And, in a small way - I hope that our family can take back the name of God.
In the meantime, if you're going to put on your critical thinking hats and poo on someone's parade - let's rethink "Occupy Wall Street."
But I'll save that for another day.