I feel like I’m obligated to chime in on the subject since I’ve been to Uganda twice in the past few years, initially inspired by Invisible Children.
I saw quite a few pictures of “Kony 2012” graphics on Instagram on Monday and Tuesday. At first I was taken aback… I immediately associated Kony with Joseph Kony but the graphics seemed political to me – like he was running for office. So I was confused.
After finally seeing a graphic that also mentioned Invisible Children I was a little less confused but not really into their marketing idea. I immediately thought it looked like a political ad and I suppose that seems to be part of the plan – to make Kony a household name. But I was a little worried that people would see Kony 2012 everywhere and not look into who he actually is, especially if they’re (understandably) tired of the 2012 political race or simply tired of politics in general. I was worried that they were making his name heard, yes, but with little to no information unless the viewer pursued the information. So is that good? Making people comfortable with his name? So if they overhear it and it comes up in conversation days, months or years later… they might say “Oh yea I know that guy” when really they know nothing at all.
I heard on the news this evening that the Kony 2012 video has become the most viral video ever (which isn’t very surprising.. viral videos and social media are relatively new, it’s going to continue getting bigger and bigger). Honestly I’m not sure what my point in writing this is really. If you haven’t checked into who Joseph Kony is, whether or not you’ve seen Kony 2012 propaganda or not, I urge you to look into it.
I haven’t kept up with Invisible Children the past few years so I can’t really give my honest opinion on what they’re up to. I suppose I was always slightly skeptical of them… they seemed to sort of be sensationalizing the situation a little. And they seemed be into the “fame” it brought them. So whatever you do with the information you learn… I hope you do something good with it. Write a letter to a government official or find a Ugandan organization to donate to or work with. You really don’t have to buy a special DVD or neat bracelet from Invisible Children. I never did. Honestly I’m more of a fan of support grass roots organizations started within Uganda.. by Ugandans. The same can be said for other countries and groups of people as well. They know themselves best. If you’re interested to see who I’ve worked with check out Juna Amagara Ministries.
My Ugandan adventures were amazing. Interesting. Challenging. Impromptu. Probably kind of scary if I really think about it. I hope to go back someday.. hopefully more than once. It’s the kind of place that stays in your heart forever. :) The thought of living there isn’t a foreign one – it’s crossed my mind numerous times.
In summary – I think it’s important to educate ourselves about the living conditions of people in other places. It’s important to notice, understand, and appreciate the differences. Help when you can and where you can. Serve, give money, pray. But don’t appear of out nowhere ready to save the day because you’re a kid from the United States. See whats already going on where you’re moved to help and find out how you can lend a hand.