Kony 2012: Changing Stories

Invisible Children uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war + restore LRA-affected communities in east + central Africa to peace + prosperity. (via InvisibleChildren.com)

Kony. By now we’ve all heard the name, the aim, + the controversy. It’s something that I’ve had to tame my fingers not to type about, but in the lead up to Cover The Night, I think it’s time.

MY PERSONAL STORY

Back in 2007 I saw the first Invisible Children (IC) film in a stadium with 17,000 women for Colour Conference .

Being in that environment + watching the film was one of the most profound moments of my life.

My eyes were opened to a terrible injustice.

My heart was awakened to real compassion.

My love for humanity + justice deepened.

And had I not seen that film, I wouldn’t have pursued journalism + writing.

Since then I’ve tracked IC closely. In early 2011 I applied to intern with them + successfully passed through several interview stages (including a 5am Skype Interview call, scariest interview of my life!). Throughout this process my love + appreciation grew as I was given a glimpse into their behind-the-scenes.

5 YEARS ON + KONY 2012

The controversy + criticisms that have come with Kony 2012 have saddened me, especially those from Christians + non-profit organisations who are advocating for justice.

Kony is a dark force on this earth. He’s ruined generations, the land, + caused incredible emotional, mental, spiritual, + physical destruction. The world needs more light, so if anyone is fighting to see light become greater than the darkness… I support them, wholeheartedly.

Note: Joseph Kony did not die 5-years ago as some are saying. If he was, I’m sure Wikipedia would update his bio. Also, IC never said they were going to kill him; they said they want him captured so he can be trialed for his crimes like any other warlord.  And they never asked for your money; they wanted you to spread the message + bring awareness. 

WHY I STILL SUPPORT INVISIBLE CHILDREN

The media’s encouragement + slandering of Kony 2012 hasn’t tainted my opinion of them in the slightest. How they stepped up to cater to the positive media attention they received, dealt with the PR, + even made a second film in response is to be respected.

If IC helped rescue or prevented 1 child from becoming a child soldier, being raped or mutilated… I’d support them. But they’ve done much more than that by creating a number of programs such as Community Protection which warns communities of pending LRA violence.

IC is doing a courageous thing. And they’ve been doing it for 6+ years. They haven’t changed.

This is a quote from an interview Jason Russell did in 2007 about their first film. He said:

“For us the journey is the destination, where it ends up. Who knows the power of potential that this can create. We are excited about telling the stories of invisible children around the world. Our responsibility is telling their stories well and to the best of our abilities.”

And their journey through story-telling has moved them to actively pursuing the creator of these horrendous stories.

COVER THE NIGHT

So, you might be wondering… am I participating in Cover The Night? My answer is: No. For the simple reason that this is something specifically for America. I’m not going to put posters up to show support, but my speech + words are.

If you’re wanting to go out + Cover The Night… do it. Never stop yourself from acting on an issue of injustice that moved you. And when your children ask about Kony + what were child soldiers, you can say that when you were awakened to their captivity, you did something to bring them freedom.

If you’re not… please don’t criticise the ones bringing goodness. Sometimes we forget that words are just as powerful + wounding as actions (that is how Russell broke, isn’t it? From the snowball of criticisms… + then he was criticised some more).

In our current society, think about the issue like this: You find out that someone is raping + abusing women, + the authorities or an organisation is trying to locate the person. But instead of you helping these people + organisation find them, you criticise their every move. To the victim, your criticisms about those fighting for their freedom is that they’re not worth fighting for.

And so it is with IC. Criticising IC is simply telling a child soldier that you knew about their oppression + decided that their freedom wasn’t worth fighting for.

To end I’d like to leave you with this excerpt from a blog post by Jen Hatmaker. It’s incredible.

“When it is all said and done, when my grandchildren read about Joseph Kony and eleven-year-old sex slaves in Haiti and children sleeping on the streets in Ethiopia and foster kids in their fifteen home, and they say, “What did you do about all these tragedies?”

I am not going to say, “Well, I didn’t want to be labeled a white supremacist, so I wrote mean blogs about folks who threw their hat in the ring.”

I am not going to say, “It was complicated. So I didn’t do anything.”

I am not going to say, “People were extremely critical back then. It was PR suicide to engage difficult issues. I remained troubled but silent on the sidelines. I cared in my mind.”

I am not going to say, “I researched and debated and read a lot of books and articles. I was very, very informed. Believe me, I understood the issues. I waxed very poetic about it all.”

I hope to say, “I joined the fight, because justice denied anywhere means justice denied everywhere. I jumped in, imperfectly, even though I knew critics would come out of the woodwork, questioning my motives and methods and ignorance and intentions. I decided to use my voice and my resources, because that could be my daughter and my sister and my community. That mother is me. Those children are you. I didn’t get it perfectly right. I couldn’t address it all. I couldn’t even address the entire scope of one problem. I didn’t change the whole world. But I moved.

Jen Hatmaker, ‘Kony Critics + Throwing Rocks