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The Kony Phenomena

March 13th, 2012

Paul Merrill

“If that happened one night in America, it would be on the cover of Newsweek.”

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the Kony tidal wave that has been spreading virally across the web. The group Invisible Children would love your support to pressure the US government to find the tyrannical leader of an Ugandan rebel group, Joseph Kony.

Mr. Kony is indeed a scoundrel of the highest (or lowest) order. And I am in complete agreement with the idea of tracking him down and bringing him to justice.

Many have criticized the 30-minute film as being sensationalist. (Click on the thumbnail below to view it.) And that Invisible Children’s (http://www NULL.invisiblechildren NULL.com/) CEO Ben Keesey’s methods might not be perfect. I’m sure that some of the criticisms are true. But I’d suggest that the best way forward is to consider the good that could come of supporting this initiative rather than picking at the bad. None of us are perfect!

Africa is just not high on the USA’s foreign agenda. Libya is an exception, maybe because of their huge oil reserves. As my opening quote from the film implies, crises that are part of daily life in Africa just don’t make the headlines in the States as much as a kitty cat stuck up in someone’s tree.

“Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.” But it does. And even Invisible Children can’t change that. Even if every single person in the States rallied around this cause, there still would be poverty on the other side of the globe. That doesn’t mean we should turn our backs in frustration. Every little bit helps.

One criticism from me: at some level, I object to the idea of asking people to put up posters up in public places. It can be breaking the law. Maybe if people asked property owners if they could put up posters, the posters would stay up longer. I also realize the value of doing something now, whether it stretches boundaries or not.

Maybe the public’s willingness to focus on Kony is just because of the media spotlight. Or that it’s a convenient focal point for mass frustration with society’s ills. But it’s good to bring those frustrations to the surface and do something. I’m thrilled to see that more people watched Kony on YouTube than the latest Lady Gaga video. Maybe there is hope.

Apologies that this post falls outside my normal subject matter. But I thought you would want to know about this.

Update: I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the news of Invisible Children’s founder¬†Jason Russell’s fall from grace that happened since I wrote this post. That is truly sad. And it highlights what can happen when a massive amount of fame comes very quickly. Also, Invisible Children has had quite a bit of scrutiny, and it appears that they are not very accountable in many areas. So you should investigate further before investing with them. However, I am glad that they brought to light some of the horrible things that are happening in forgotten parts of the world. And it is good to do something. Just choose wisely.

Kony video on YouTube (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc)

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8 Comments

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  1. Courtney (http://www NULL.fighttrafficking NULL.org) #
    March 13, 2012

    Totally agree. Thanks for sharing Paul.

  2. Brother Bill #
    March 13, 2012

    My feeling about this Kony phenomenon is that it’s good that attention is being brought on this villain and his crimes, and I would certainly like to see him captured and brought to justice. However, it is my understanding that capturing him will not end the problem that the film presents. I.e., some other warlord will just take over and do the same thing. Also, I think it is simplistic to think that there’s much the US Government can do to solve the larger problems in Uganda, the Sudan and elsewhere in Africa. They can’t pressure the governments there, because often the governments are corrupt and/or in cahoots. Attempts at aid often get rerouted to the bad guys. And what happened to us in Somalia certainly shows that military intervention may be futile. None of this means we should just give up, or not try to help. It just means that the idea that getting rid of Kony will solve many problems is a vast oversimplification. Your point about this being a more productive use of people’s internet-viewing time is a good one, though.

  3. siteadmin #
    March 13, 2012

    You are welcome, Courtney.

    And Bill, I agree with you – getting Kony would be just one part of a giant whack-a-mole game.

  4. Matthew (http://whatsthecontext NULL.wordpress NULL.com) #
    March 13, 2012

    I agree with what Brother Bill says about someone just replacing him. It’s the same attitude the U.S. had about Bin Laden. By the time we got him, the only thing he had any control over anymore was his multiple wives in his compound (but I read even they were squabbling with him).

    But, yes, anything that makes American’s go, “Oh, there’s a place called Africa?” is a good thing.

  5. Brenda Quinn (http://www NULL.brendaquinnwrites NULL.com) #
    March 13, 2012

    Thanks for writing on this Paul. It’s good to consider this and I agree that caring is always a good thing even as we admit that we want to find the best ways to care. I just read another very good post on this at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/current-events/op-ed-blog/28573-is-kony-2012-good-or-bad (http://www NULL.relevantmagazine NULL.com/life/current-events/op-ed-blog/28573-is-kony-2012-good-or-bad)
    Thanks again, Brenda

  6. Jenny (http://www NULL.fiveplease NULL.blogspot NULL.com) #
    March 14, 2012

    I agree about the poster issue Paul… so I bought a t-shirt instead.

  7. siteadmin #
    March 14, 2012

    Matthew: agreed – Kony seems to have already lost his power. It looks ike many just want him brought to justice, even if he is no longer causing as much harm as he was.

    Brenda: Very helpful link.

    Jenny: Good way forward!

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