You must have seen it. It’s everywhere.
These trending keywords have become a sensation all over the internet. A recent video posted about two weeks ago by Invisible Children on Vimeo titled KONY 2012 has become viral, and I mean viral as in VIRAL. The purpose of the video was to bring awareness to a life-threatening rebel in Uganda named Joseph Kony, who has been abducting children and forcing them to become children soldiers, teaching them to kill their own parents. He physically mutilated his prisoners and also forced little girls into prostitution.
The video starts with a narration and point of view by Jason Russell, the man behind Invisible Children. He asks people to unite their efforts in bringing international peace and arrest this horrible man. His message was “Let’s make KONY famous, not to celebrate him but to arrest him.” The video clearly did the job of bringing awareness. It inspired and motivated hundreds of thousands of people to spread the word and further, make a donation to the cause.
However, as it became viral there has been another wave, a wave of opposition against the cause. Why? What is wrong about trying to arrest the man that is cruelly using children as his bodyguard and killing about 30,000 people over the course of his infamous work? Nothing. In fact, the opposition isn’t about Kony, it’s about KONY 2012.
The criticisms are basically about these following points:
- “Manipulated facts for strategic purposes”
- The organization, Invisible Children, uses their expenses more on producing video than on helping the cause
- Charity Navigator, a reliable source rating organizations, gave Invisible Children 2/4 stars for dubious financing
- Organization supports military activities in Uganda
- White man’s burden
The uprise of criticisms is causing a dilemma for many people. The video calls for a united effort to “do something” (like donate) but with the suspicion of whether the help is being properly used, people don’t know whether to feel supportive of KONY 2012 or feel cynical about the seemingly manipulative media play.
So, what are we supposed to think about it? What should we do?
Well first, several articles list the more reliable organizations to support. AMREF USA, Doctors Without Borders, and Water.org. Perhaps we can direct our donations into that outlet. Another option is to support Invisible Children anyway. They have done a phenomenal job in bringing awareness and because of the awareness, yes they receive criticisms, but hey! The criticisms have brought us to an option to donate to more reliable charity organizations, no? And perhaps it is true that the Invisible Children organization doesn’t use their expenses mainly on helping what they support. Yes, it might be true that they spend it mostly on video-making. But those videos are making a difference, aren’t they? We can argue about how effectively and properly it’s done, but on an individual basis, it might be making a difference.
A recent testimony I read on Tumblr said:
You can hate the Kony campaign all you want but when my friend came into class today and saw “27 of your friends posted about Joseph Kony” on facebook he broke down into tears.
He immigrated from Uganda to Canada in 2006, only two years after his sister was taken and then shot in front of him.
So complain about fraudulent spending all you want, because today I saw first hand that it’s making a difference.
What to say? The controversy is understandable. However, we can take a step back and see this from a larger view. We can be practical about our donations and choose carefully what organization(s) to support. Yet, the idea that one video is causing this great surge of popular support shows that no matter what organization we support, we are releasing positive effect on society. Whether it creates more videos as such that will inspire awareness, or whether it literally goes to the support of arresting Kony, they both can help the cause. (To read more about Invisible Children causing more harm than good, click here)
That being said, what can we do that will really help? What can we do to help this issue as Christians? You can donate to this organization, or you can find others that spend a higher percentage of expenses to the arrest of Kony. But most of all, we can pray for them. There is nothing more powerful than prayers! Take a leap of faith with me when I say, prayer. Christians can do two things. One is to pray about everything, but I guess for the sake of the discussion, let’s just say to pray about the problems one faces or what the world, small or large, faces. Two, is to act upon that prayer in faith and make things happen. Now, sometimes there are things that we, as individuals, cannot do or change. It might be because one man is not enough, maybe because it isn’t time yet, or a whole set of other reasons. In that case, we do what we best could and resort to prayer. God will step in, and prayers are more powerful than anything in the world.