Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just Another Blog Post on Kony 2012

By now, if you've been on the Internet at all, you've probably heard of the Kony 2012 video produced by Invisible Children. As of this posting, it's been viewed nearly 39 million times. You can take 29 minutes to watch it below:

I'm still processing how I feel about the popularity of this movement and what they're trying to accomplish. Here are some unedited and not-fully-formed thoughts:

Justice is complex. Is kidnapping and forcing children to become soldiers an atrocity and abomination? Yes. Will bringing a violent, horrible man to justice bring about actual change? Certainly. Yet the systems in our world make justice a far more complex issue. It's not a problem that can be solved with a simple formula. Can American young people truly understand the complexities of central African sociological, cultural, and political issues? Should they need to understand these things before they take action? I think of the book When Helping Hurts, and wonder how the authors would view this movement. I also wonder about all the other injustices in our world that aren't getting nearly the same amount of attention, and who will rise up to be the voice for those needs and issues.

The Internet is powerful. The opening to the Kony 2012 video has this quote: nothing is more powerful than an idea. I'd add to the end of that statement, especially on the Internet. For good or for ill, the technology of the Internet has the power to get people information and cause movements in ways that were impossible for past generation. So many people posted the link to the video on Facebook and Twitter, its presence was instantly ubiquitous. I am hoping that this sort of Internet-based movement inspires actual compassionate action and a movement of justice that goes beyond sharing a YouTube video on Facebook. I worry that many in my generation will consider a "like" on Facebook as being part of promoting justice in our world. Yes, it's part, but it is not life-transforming action. Give money. Write your congressperson. Sponsor or mentor or foster or adopt a child.. Choose to be in a helping profession, then give your time and energy and skills to supporting a community, whether local or international. Pray a lot.

When you start a movement, be prepared for criticism. Everything about IC has been under the magnifying glass for the past few days since the video exploded online. From financials to philosophy to strategy to a picture of the IC founders posing with military weapons, it's all been critiqued. Some of the critiques seem fair and balanced; others feel a bit extreme and illogical. You'll have critics when you choose to lead in any capacity, whether you're a president or a parent. (You can read the IC response to the critiques here.)

Jesus is still the best judge. Some day, Jesus will come back and bring shalom to our world. Until then, He has called us to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly. I'm certainly not perfect at that, but I'm trying. I'm hoping that justice moves beyond being a cool and fashionable Internet meme. I'm hoping that it becomes a deep-down heart-and-soul part of my generation's DNA, that we would be moved to holistic compassionate action that seeks to bring the values of the kingdom of God into our world, values that lift up the marginalized and broken and offer healing and redemption.

What do you think of Kony 2012? Share in the comments.


  1. I'm tired of all the ways you can "support" a cause by not actually doing anything - like sharing a link.

    Probably the stupidest example of this is the Facebook breast cancer awareness game. It started out with, "Post your bra color on Facebook to support breast cancer awareness." Oh, and you weren't even supposed to say "I'm wearing a beige bra today." You were just supposed to say "beige" so the men would be confused. How does that raise awareness?

    Then they had the "I like it on the ____" in which "it" was your purse and the blank was a place in your house. To raise breast cancer awareness.

    Most recently was the "I'm going to ____ for ____ months" in which you found a country assigned to your birthday month in the first blank, and put your birthday number in the second. And all for breast cancer awareness.

    So that's my tangent on that, even though it's not entirely related...

    Yes, people want someone to blame. They want to put a face on sin so they can have something to smash. They feel this Holy-Spirit-inspired sense of justice, but they try to bring it about in ways that are not Holy-Spirit-inspired.

    Killing Osama bin Laden didn't end the war. Prosecuting the worst criminals doesn't end crime. Since there will be sin in the world till Jesus comes, I want to spend my effort helping people heal with grace, instead of avenging them. We are to be Christ; God is to be Judge.

  2. so timely that you'd post this, because I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the topic. I really appreciate the balanced way you approach any subject matter...I'm always challenged to think beyond the surface of an issue. Thank you for blogging your opinions!