Isn’t this a good thing? Thousands of young lives are ruined by the Kony-led Lord’s Resistance Army. Doesn’t this need to be publicized? Why has Kony 2012 never sat comfortably for me and others?
A facebook post by a supporter of the Australian arm of the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign helped me to understand my discomfort. It read: 30,000 children affected in Kony campaign. 800,000 lives will be saved in the #DontCutAid campaign. ‘Make Poverty History’ was drawing attention to the Australian Government’s failure to meet the goals for development assistance which they signed up for in 2000, called the ‘Millennium Goals’. Many more lives are lost through Australia breaking its promises to contribute developmental assistance than through Joseph Kony’s deplorable acts.
So who is the villain? Kony is a problem, but so are we! Lack of action on the part of donor nations is more damaging to the two thirds world than Kony and his LRA. Is this not a case of the ‘plank in your own eye’. Why do videos advertising 1st world stinginess not go viral? Why do posts calling attention to consumerism not make American teenagers mad? The problem of poverty lies more with 1st world politics and lifestyle than Joseph Kony. The record breaking spread of a video that exposes the sins of another suggests that the 1st world has not noticed the plank.
Secondly the video and its sharers have not taken the time to hear what Ugandans really care about. The N.Y. Times wrote: Ordinary Ugandans are worrying about other things. The government needs a strategy for assessing its capital needs by sector. Should Uganda build an oil refinery or forgo the profits and send crude to Kenya for processing? And if it’s Ugandan children in peril you’re looking for, there are those suffering from “nodding disease” — an unusual neurological disease that’s killed hundreds of children in the very region Kony once terrorized.
The Kony 2012 campaign exposes how isolated western teenagers, and westerners of every age, have become. (Paradoxically the world wide web shrinks our world rather than broadens it.) It is critical that westerners become informed and active on global crisis points.
We must hope that this campaign prompts young people to immerse more deeply in global issues. Perhaps the campaign will inspire young people to use the web as a tool for education and advocacy. For the eager, a good place to begin would be to read the New York Times online a few times a week. Regular visits to the Micah Challenge website, a Christian global poverty advocacy group, will help too.
For we who felt a strange resistance to Kony 2012, perhaps a fresh awareness of the power of social media is gained. If ‘posting’ and ‘sharing’ informs and mobilises, then let us ‘post’ and ‘share’ on issues of significance.
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