More Popular Than The Critics Of Kony2012 and Invisible Children

I still support the video, which Invisible Children created about the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and it’s leader, Joseph Kony, to raise awareness and pressure to arrest him.

There were part of the video I didn’t love, and I did not give money because I’m very particular about the charities I chose, but I retweeted it because I have cared about the LRA and child soldiers for a long time, and I was overjoyed to see a way to get people’s attention.

To me, the movie was purely a tool to raise awareness and to maintain pressure on Washington to keep the military advisors working with the Ugandan army. I never saw the video as promoting more intervention, and although I wish Invisible Children hadn’t included a call for money or had included many NGOs to support or non-monetary ways to support the cause and I understand the criticism of money and purpose beyond the video, I would also point out that many people give to charities who suffer from similar issues.

I find the other criticisms of the video and Invisible Children to be pessimistic and nearly as elitist as the video can be viewed. I refuse to believe that one must be a scholar to care, or a situation must be perfect to act. We complain that people don’t care enough, but we mock them for caring “the wrong way.” Who is allowed to care? What are we to do when faced with the lesser of two evils (the Ugandan government’s human rights abuses or the LRA)?

Because the most disappointing part of the backlash is not one response I read offered another solution around the LRA and Joseph Kony. When studying political philosophy, my professors drilled into me that it was easy to criticize. They pushed me to do the more difficult work of either supporting a theory or creating new solutions.

I believe in peace. I believe in sovereignty. I believe that America often mistakes its way for the best way. But I believe more in the underlying message that I heard in the video: Children’s basic needs should not be determined by where they are born.

If 50 million more people hear this message, I know a few of them will change or care or learn, and the rest will move on or become annoyed that they gave money to another awareness charity. So be it.

We have to start somewhere. Why not with Joseph Kony and why not in 2012?

When I’m not disappointed by critics with no answers, I’m making myself popular reading and writing elsewhere.

My Other Hangouts (don’t tell my blog):

Favorite posts I didn’t read, I mean, write:

  • Brokenhearted: From My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog, a music snob realizes he’s just not a cool dad anymore. I’m going to be the same way – trying to keep up and keep my mouth shut – one day I’ll have to let it go and be uncool, too. (sweet)
  • Pay The Writer: A great video rant by author/screenwriter Harlan Ellison on when writers don’t get paid. (high-five)
  • Spider Web Forest Is Beautiful and Terrifying: From Buzzfeed, I was fine until the last photo when I was reminded that nature is terrifying and probably hates us. (freaky)
  • ‘Lifespan’: What Are The Limits Of Literary License?: From NPR, how far can essayist and memoirist stretch the truth for a little more literary beauty? (interesting)
  • The Perfect Pun: From SlamBradley on deviantART, sometimes the best way to deal with Hitler is to find the pun. (pun-ny)

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

11 thoughts to “More Popular Than The Critics Of Kony2012 and Invisible Children”

  1. I don’t support the video for several reasons (although I do agree that we should have been talking about this six years ago, when Kony was active with the LRA) but the biggest reason is that the Ugandan army does many of the same things that Kony does. Giving them money, or urging our government to support them does no good, and just puts more women and children at risk.

    On a related note, I think that in the future we will lament about the fact World War III was occurring during this time on the African continent, and no post-industrialized nation stepped in to stop it. Think about it: Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe. All of these countries have suffered significant civil/military unrest in the past twenty years. Millions have died. And we do nothing.

    1. So my understanding is that we were just working with the Ugandan army to get Kony — not supporting them in other ways. And what are our alternatives?

      I have never thought of the WWIII idea for Africa. Interesting. What do you think post-industrialized nations could do to step in at this point without it seeming like we are taking over again (colonization)?

  2. So well said. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    The situation over there is vile and disturbing, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. It’s almost easier to focus our attention on the charity because at least we feel as though we have some power and influence to at least change that.

  3. Thank you for this. I have been quite obsessed about the whole thing since I first saw it: it went from 100,000 views to almost, OMG, 58 million views in 3 days? That’s never heard before. I have followed all the critical articles and the debates going on in the comment sections, and they in turn made me feel informed, impassioned, infuriated and confused (alliteration fail there). At this point, I feel I have been told to GO HOME.

  4. I’m actually a HUGE fan of Watoto ministries. They’ve been working in Uganda for decades to provide homes for rescued orphans and child soldiers where they can be raised in a safe environment, go to school, and have a real future. They put a lot of emphasis on developing the kids they care for into leaders with the skills to really be a generation capable of leading and building their country into a peaceful and prosperous nation. Rather than a traditional orphanage set up, children are in smaller, individual homes on the Watoto campus, and each home has a mom who cares for them as they grow up…so it’s more of a family environment. They’ve done a lot of work to help facilitate rehabilition for LRA victims as well…just really amazing people.

  5. I love that you posted this piece. I have been a little late on the Kony scene. I have a good friend who is in Uganda now. I so look forward to talking with her when she comes back to the US soon. Thanks for helping to raise our awareness over such a devastating situation.

  6. Thanks for this. I figured I’d see something from you on this so I had to come see what your complete thoughts were:) I’m still not a fan of the video. However, it is an extremely important issue and I am happy to see all of the conversations occurring as a result of the video.

  7. Loved your tweet about the real travesty. The first time I heard about the child soldiers was actually watching an ESPN documentary about soccer and then project AK-47. That was ingrained in my mind and though I prayed for the situation I soon fell short because other things either became more important or I forgot. How luxurious and comfortable my life must be to forget poor sweet children forced to kill their parents and become child soldiers. The KONY 2012 does a great job reminding us to not be content with what is going on but to do something. They don’t let us forget and that’s what I feel is so moving about it. Be annoying enough with posters, video, and the like to move people to action. That’s what it did for me anyway. While I am not giving them money, I am writing my political leaders to stay involved. Great post Alex. Very well stated. “We complain that people don’t care enough, but we mock them for caring “the wrong way.”’ LOVE IT!

  8. I agree. Be part of the solution, or discuss a possible new route. But don’t just put down someone who is TRYING.

    I’ll tell you what’s exciting: seeing my sophomore son so involved in 2012 Kony at his high school. Hearing him on the phone and watching him update on FB the call to action in April.

    That lights my fire.

    Seeing the action kit Kony posters up in our small town of 10,000 in bumf*ck Wisconsin.

    That’s exciting.

    People are learning. They’re hearing. They’re knowing: the name Kony.

  9. Thanks you for writing this. I have mixed feelings like you do, but I think any awareness is better than no awareness. I can understand much of the criticism, but if children were being kidnapped and forced to do unspeakable things in any other civilized country, we would be talking about it every day and doing something about it. I wish I had the answers, but as long as we can bring the awareness to the people who can help, I fully support that.

  10. I wrote recently on my FB page “solutions” that the most important thing is to continue to care after his capture. Even if by some miracle Uganda becomes a thriving democracy ala Ghana. There will still be horrible poverty that can only be solved through our committed support to direct action on the ground. We can not all be in Africa to help but we can all do our part to care and promote solutions even when people aren’t being slaughtered. If we don’t fill the hole left by Konys’ departure with good action then some other tyrant will fill the void with evil. It is indicative of our response to many problems, we fill our heads with so much distraction that we allow problems to get to the point of needing mass social movements to solve. Our unwillingness to support the Afgans after we helped eject the Russians led to the problems in that country and we continue to do the same in Africa every day. Our generation could be marked by determination to actually solve problems rather then fix situations.

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