Pleased to Have Spoken Too Soon


WARNING: Opinions expressed here are my own. They do not reflect those of my institution, department, or students I work with.

A few weeks ago, I found myself lamenting the sad lack of discourse on our campus regarding an upcoming concert and its controversial support. I was searching for the fire that I had seen with so many issues that were, admittedly less important (outrage about a change in voluntary social media format? Really?)

And then all this KONY 2012 business got going.

For those who have managed to avoid the craziness surrounding this issue…well, good on you. Clearly you’ve decided to unplug altogether, or don’t have a Facebook. But to sum up, the latest documentary film campaign of the organization Invisible Children is designed to make the leader of the Lord’s Republic Army, and the antagonist for all prior Invisible Children films, famous. Not for the purpose of making him a target for our idolatry, but to make the point that if enough people know who he is, the atrocities that are taking place in northern Uganda simply won’t continue.

Right?

Well, sort of. This article (which I am so grateful to Chris Conzen for sharing) makes the point that one of several shortcomings of this campaign, is that the problem is not one of awareness. Invisible Children has been creating campaigns like this for more than ten years, traveling across the country to speak with ministries and college campuses to spread the word of these atrocities. So simply posting a video and saying “I agree! Check this out! Isn’t this terrible?” is a step, yes.

Then what?

The statements that I made above are the ones that I saw a lot. Awareness, understanding, visibility (the very goal that Invisible Children set out to reach!). But what I didn’t see a lot of was this:
All the college students, missionaries, and celebrities can be aware of what’s been going on in Uganda, and it won’t change anything if nothing is being DONE. This showed an action step that has been all too rare throughout this process. There are arguments to be made as to whether or not the Invisible Children method is the best way to act (and I’m not addressing that here), but at the end of the day the action piece is important.

I believe in the disintegration of the Lord’s Republic Army, and wish as much as the creators of Invisible Children that the abuse of children must end. I agree with the sentiment. But all the awareness in the world of a problem, in the absence of action (be it through a donation to Invisible Children, donation of time to spread the word, direct advocacy to the same lawmakers that IC has been lobbying, etc.), means very little.

How do you see the KONY2012 phenomenon? What do your students/friends/colleagues think?

One thought on “Pleased to Have Spoken Too Soon

  1. At some point, during a similar phenomenon, I learned the word "slacktivism", conceived by someone more clever than I. I've been using it ever since.

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