Don’t ask me my thoughts on Kony. That being said, don’t ask me to speak on behalf of you. And most emphatically, don’t tell me what to do.
For the past 24 hours, I have been bombarded with tweets, e-mail, and Instagram comments asking me to speak on the matter - to voice my opinion. All with an implied demand that I voice support in favor of the campaign group Invisible Children and the cause against Joseph Kony, the Ugandan guerrilla leader responsible for war crimes against his people, child abduction and militarized enslavement, thousands of deaths, and other horrible atrocities we can all agree are reprehensible.
Before I do anything, before I use my voice, before I subject 1 million blog readers and 50,000 Twitter followers to my own subjective opinion on an explosive international affair that I know nothing about, perhaps I should do some research. Maybe I need to actually sit here and come to my own conclusions on this, talk to my friends who do hands-on charitable work in Uganda, read informative essays by qualified journalists who are much more educated than I am on the issue. Because it takes more than watching a Youtube video of a beautiful Brad Pitt cherub baby juxtaposed with images of a menacing dark-skinned sociopath. It goes further than siding with the All-American, American Eagle-wearing, American Rejects-lookalikes performing heroic feats of borderline American-form imperalism (whilst posing with guns in the jungle, then renting out pricey bungalows at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood…) just because of a slick, viral campaign. And it certainly requires a personal investment that weighs heavier than 30 minutes reading some blogger’s rhetoric (this one included). These are foreign relations issues we’re toying with here, political barb wire, diplomacy, globalized ramifications. Most importantly, we’re interfering with the lives of human beings who are seeking help. Beyond a social media tidal wave or a hashtag. These are seriously complicated problems that are enmeshed in the cultural fabric of another society, outside of your computer, outside of your own experiential periphery.
I will reiterate. What is happening in Uganda is terrible and it needs to stop. But do your research before you mindlessly reblog or get up in arms over inflammatory internet material. Propaganda comes in all shapes and forms, for evil or for good and all the relative grey shades in between. Be knowledgable on the subject so that you are empowered to speak correctly on sensitive facets. And think twice about who you are really supporting here, Kony’s poor victims or 3 guys from San Diego that you wouldn’t think twice about in a Rubio’s Fish Tacos. Think twice about where your money and donations are going, how it is being spent, and if you can better execute real change another way. Awareness and exposure to world problems are the highlight of this story, and a wholly more positive trending topic than a celebrity divorce, but remember, awareness for the sake of awareness isn’t enough. If you really care, if this bothers you enough, you will get involved. Like my friend Mariko who saves up all her cash via donations to spend it on a flight to Uganda whenever she has the chance to help needy children. If this really means that much to you, put your money where your Instagram Likes are and fight back.
If anything, stay informed. It’s the least you can do.
For some alternative opinions on Invisible Children and the fight against Kony: