Kony, Social Media & Me

I realize that I’m not the only one writing about this. I’m just trying to sort it out. What I’m going to say is humbling, but I feel like it’s beneficial for me. Take it for what it’s worth.

So, confession time. I admit that when I saw the video depicting Kony and Invisible Children’s actions to help central Africa, I was moved, which is weird in some ways, and not so weird in other ways. I can be very skeptical of some stuff, and occasionally gullible with others.

I feel a little sheepish as I’m writing this because I like to think of myself as someone who thinks things like this through before just jumping on the bandwagon of the latest craze. I like to think of myself as better than the masses. But that’s another issue in itself.

I also like to think of myself as socially aware and also compassionate. You may notice the common denominator: a lot of “thinking of myself” going on. At any rate, I shared the video before I was done watching the last minutes of it on my Facebook wall. I though it seemed like a worthy cause.

These people want to stop the evil man kidnapping children and turning them into soldiers. They need people to know about this, so governments will know people care about this and, in turn, will want to provide aid to arrest him. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I thought it did. So I shared it.

I thought a lot about it throughout the day. It was kind of distracting to be honest. It seemed like such a good thing to be a part of. By commenting on the video, one of my friends, challenged me a bit when he asked if I thought the US should invade for regime change. No, I didn’t think that. I don’t like war. I dialogued further on it with another friend in the evening and concluded I wasn’t quite as ready to support the video and its message as I thought.

It got me started thinking about the implications of the video. It wants to make Kony famous so people know who he is and want the US government to stop him. Think about it. If the government is to “stop” him, it will likely have to use more violence to do that. He uses child soldiers, so using violence to stop his army will mean killing some of them.

Not cool.

They also plan to work with Ugandan government to make so this works. The problem with this is that the current regime used child soldiers itself to gain power and also has a sketchy record with other with human rights issues.

This whole thing is very complicated and serious, and what I’ve talked about barely scratches the surface. Addressing it should not be something done lightly.

This is one way of dealing with the issue, but like many have said, is it the best way? Do I personally believe that this is the way the problem should be addressed?

 

Social media is a tricky thing. We can discuss things, share ideas, a lot more with massive groups of people. I think sometimes those of us who have grown up with it don’t realize the power it has. It’s something we look at fairly lightly sometimes. It’s just Facebook. It’s just  Twitter.

I like social media. I wouldn’t say I’m hooked on it, but I like it.

One of the things that comes with it is that it’s easy for people to think they care about stuff that they actually don’t. I mean it can give you a feeling of fulfillment and like you’re really doing something about  the issue when you hit that “share” button and post a comment with it. We can feel a surge of heroism with a few keystrokes.

I currently give money to organizations that help with poverty/HIV/clean water in Africa. So it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in some of this stuff enough to sacrifice some of my own money. It wasn’t that I was just trying to feel like I was helping out just because of hitting the “share” button. I do care about this stuff.

My problem was that I didn’t think. Not much anyway.

I like the fact that this type of thing raises awareness for the issue. They say that’s the main point of it, but they are using a lot of money just to raise awareness. Do I honestly believe that contributing money to this organization is the best way of helping out? No. I don’t. That’s one reason why I didn’t give money.

But, unfortunately, by sharing the video and signing the petition, I was endorsing its message: be active by joining the conversation and getting our government to take action to stop Kony. This will almost doubtless be violent. Do I want my name behind that message? Do I believe that more violence is the answer?

I only include this to remind us all, that because of the availability of more information than we are able to digest, we need to be extremely careful what we endorse, and what we say we believe by that endorsement. We need to think about the implications of things like this and the kinds of issues that are attached to them.

 

As a nonresistant Christian, I should not support, even verbally, ideas that condone violence as a good way to solve problems–even big problems. I’m not making a commentary on what I believe the government should or should not do. That is their business. They are in that place for a reason.

I believe that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am called, to try to follow His example. That doesn’t mean I should disrespect the government officials for the decisions they make. But I should be very careful what I say I support: whether with my words, my actions, or my Facebook wall.

I feel that when He tells me to love my enemies, He doesn’t mean killing them is okay. Therefore I shouldn’t support people that think that’s a good option, and essentially tell them, “Good job.”

With the steady stream of media, good and bad, I need to be super careful to compare everything to the truth of God’s Word and not be so quick to believe, or think I believe stuff just because it seems cool and popular at the moment.

All of this said, I think some of the stuff that Invisible Children is doing is valuable: they’ve helped rebuild communities and schools. They’ve helped some victims of these atrocities through trauma. I can’t and won’t minimize the good they’ve done. Their motives appear good.

But, after reading more about how complicated the issue is, what my own beliefs on nonresistance are, and what my ideals are for dealing with the problem, I can say that it was a mistake and poor judgement for me to share the video and by doing so support its message.

What I am not saying it that the people who support it are bad people. What I am saying is that it was bad idea for me to do that considering what I say about my beliefs. I’m not either saying I need to be in agreement with everything a person says before I can agree with them on anything, but I should know what exactly it is they are saying before I agree with it.

As one person commented, saying, in essence, unless we are willing to kill Kony ourselves, we should not share the Kony2012 video. It’s a sobering thought indeed.

I could never do that. I would rather die than kill him.

Jesus loves him too. And I can’t help but think that there are better ways to stop violence than using more violence.

I honestly don’t know what those ways are, but until I do, I can pray for the situation, and also be willing to give to organizations that work to help out the people of Africa in other ways. I believe Christians should be leaders in helping out with poverty issues in other countries, so this isn’t excuse to stand there and criticize. If you criticize those that get involved for the means they propose to use, find a better way.

Do something–even if it’s just giving money. Find an organization you can support and get to work. As Christians, we have no good excuse to sit here and do nothing about all the poverty in the world. It’s a huge problem but that doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up hopelessly and say, “It’s so big. I don’t know where to start.” That’s often translated, “I’m lazy.”

The answer is not to do nothing. Let’s just be careful what it is that we do.

 

Props to my friends who challenged me to think about this. I appreciate you guys and thanks for the constructive dialogue. 

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One comment on “Kony, Social Media & Me

  1. Andrew says:

    I think you’re right. I totally identify with you about getting swept up in the heroism of it all. It kind of ticks me off that I didn’t think about all the implications of this campaign before I dove in and “put my name down.”

    Thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts and making me think about it. I appreciate your honesty.

    Now I’m trying to figure out what Jesus would do in this situation, which is what I should’ve done from the start. Obviously, like you said, we definitely need to pray about the situation.

    Also, thanks for this: “… I need to be super careful to compare everything to the truth of God’s Word and not be so quick to believe, or think I believe stuff just because it seems cool and popular at the moment.” Yeah. What you said.

    Blessings,

    -Andrew

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