3.17.2012

WHY KONY 2012 SHOULD MATTER TO US ALL

I've been reading about "the little video that shook the world" on YouTube, about Joseph Kony, African warlord, head of the LRA--Lord's Resistance Army--child abductor, sex slaver. His criminality began in Uganda; he is now operating somewhere in Central Africa. Tens of thousands of children have been victimized by Kony.

It is a 30 minute video--so I bookmarked it for the weekend. But all week I caught snippets about the huge media controversy around the film. Last I checked 80 million people had viewed the film.

Thirty-five minutes ago, I watched the video. It is horrifying, heartbreaking, powerful, and brilliant. This is a watershed moment in political history. This video didn't go viral because it is superb film making. It is superb propaganda--in its original sense, which was neutral. It is superb activism. It is manipulative, of course. All good activism is; this is called effective communicating. So far, no one has shown the video to be deceitful.

It is difficult to see how anyone could argue that Kony is not a monster who should be stopped. The video has gone viral because it is the story of one child, standing for all Kony's victims. Because it tells many of us about something we may have had no idea was happening. And because it offers hope--offers a path forward for our country to join an international community to intervene to stop atrocities without going to war--because it is the right thing to do. Not because we have a financial stake, or a political stake, or a security stake. But because we have a moral stake, in our common humanity.

We are global citizens. We have global tools of communication. We should know what is going on in the world, and we should care. It is up to us to each of us to decide what action to take in response to what we learn; there is no end to the world's problems. But there is also no excuse for ignorance, or callousness.

The organizers of Invisible Children have answered the criticisms of their film, and their movement, online; their honesty, willingness to be self-critical, and transparency about their operations are hugely impressive. I urge you all to watch Kony 2012. It is heartbreaking that the creator, and co-founder of the movement to stop Kony, Jason Russell, has suffered a nervous breakdown in the streets of San Diego. The emotional toll of the last few weeks is unimaginable. Russell's accomplishment, with this video, is incomparable. Watch, and at the very least, sign the pledge--to keep pressure up to locate and arrest Kony. And pass it on.

An interesting side note: Senator Jim Inhofe takes a position of leadership on the arrest of Kony. He is right. And for exactly the same reasons--because we need global leadership against global warming--he should free himself of the shackles of the fossil fuel industry, and use his leadership to help solve the worldwide crisis of climate change. Instead, he is perpetrating a dangerous lie, that global warming is a hoax. The longer we wait to cut greenhouse gases, the more difficult and expensive it will be to stop human induced global warming. Once again, it is our children, and theirs, who will suffer the most severe consequences of our inaction.

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