I should probably leave this alone, but every time that Kony 2012 video gets posted somewhere all these words rush into my head and maybe if I write them down they’ll get out and leave room for words like my shopping list or my nephew’s birthday. I should say right here that I distrust Jason Russell, who made the video in question, and that has shaped my view of his work. One small reason for this is his statement to the NY Times that the Academy is considering his You Tube video for an Academy Award, when it isn’t eligible. It may seem like a small point, but it indicates a willingness to shape the truth, and in a “documentarian” that is very dangerous.
That being said, it isn’t my concern with the spread of this film.
We have to remember two things when dealing with Africa:
- African politics is never clear cut, never one sided and always dates back far further than our collective memories choose to dredge.
- There are very few examples in which “raising Western awareness” of a specific situation in Africa hasn’t served to make said situation far worse.
Way back in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, Europeans would make alliances with African chieftains. The chieftains would go to war against their enemies, take prisoners and sell those prisoners to their European allies. Said prisoners ended up in the slave markets across Europe and the Americas. It was so common that in 1700, Samuel Sewall cited it in his famous abolitionist leaflet.
While I am in no way implying that Invisible Children is involved in the slave trade, in singling Joseph Kony out as the only bad guy in the region, they are making alliances with a lot of other really bad guys who also use child soldiers. (Here’s another link on that) Raising the awareness of one man in a continent being torn apart by dozens of men like him, does not, in fact, raise awareness; instead it creates tunnel vision, which is a dangerous form of blindness.
Finally, as Christians we shouldn’t be band wagon hoppers. The Lord calls us to love the Universal visible Church and if we can help other believers in need, we should do that all the time, not just because someone makes a really good video that tugs at our heart strings. We should always be in the business of supporting the work of local church organizations, like Watoto, or denominational organizations. When someone raises our awareness of a single situation somewhere, we should say with confidence, “I am so glad to know that the church is at work in that location, preaching the gospel into that situation.”
It is my sincerest hope that this post does not offend, but if it does, PLEASE email me and I will be happy to discuss this further and make corrections if they are needed.