I am sure by the time you read this many of you will probably have been hit with this video surrounding the campaign called “KONY2012” that is designed to bring the Ugandan criminal Joseph Kony to power surrounding his abduction of young men into his LRA Army and turning them into child soldiers.
If you haven’t seen the video and you have 30 minutes to spare then I highly recommend that you do so because it’s well worth it and an issue of great importance: http://player.vimeo.com/video/37119711?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&color=d13030
The problem I have with these movements as well intended as they are in their creation, is that they often become a “hip, feel good movement” that “westerners” join based on the fact that it is intrinsic for people to want to be down with something special, especially when said movement makes people feel good about themself, and especially when it involves little African children. The problem with this is that after the good deed is done, after we have extinguished our outrage at the plight of these poor children we westerners of short attention spans and short term memories comfortably go back to our lives, leaving the burden of continuing the fight of injustice and oppression to the small few who do the work that should be done by many.
I get it. The images contained in videos such as these are visceral, POWERFUL, and confrontational. They appeal to the emotions, as they are intended, arousing that part of our subconsciousness that blissfully lies wrapped up in a blanket of self-deniability to the utter privilege and luxury that we all have inherited. An inheritance, that comes from the bloodied hands of our predecessors who according to their perceived divine right, saw it fit to colonise and subjugate the peoples of Africa so that they could then take hold of the vast resources of a nation that is so tragically bountiful with riches that it has been a burden more than a blessing. These children, depicted in this video, these invisible children in Uganda and millions of others around the world like them suffer because of these historical precedents that took place hundreds of years ago in contrast to the relative wealth, security and privilege of our own lives.
They suffer and continue to suffer today because of the continued rape and exploitation of the continent of Africa and countries like it just so we can continue to feed our insatiable appetite for bling, coffee, automobiles, our dependency on petroleum, the latest mobile phone technology, game systems, flat screen tvs, devices miniature and portable and countless other luxuries that are too innumerable to list.
Yes, Joseph Kony is a man that has committed wicked acts and innumerable atrocities against humanity. You will find no argument with me there. He has indeed committed the foulest of crimes because his crimes come at the hands of defense little children, and yet if we are to examine the very structures of our society, the very edifices of our own lives we will find that we are as culpable to these children’s desperate and disparte situations as Joseph Kony himself. Joseph Kony is an easy target. By making him THE focal point of our anger in light of the plight of these childrens situations we then comfortably and conveniently avoid the deeper questions that would take us on a journey that would lead us to our very own lives and the structures that support the convenience and luxuries that we all enjoy at the behest of others, to include children,to include THESE children depicted in the video.
The problem with movements like these are they create a false illusion of an “us vs them” or in this case, HIM, by depicting a “good vs evil scenario” in which those of us in the west are always conveniently type cast in the lead role as “the good” while men like Joseph Kony are always the evil. An evil that needs to be eliminated, and WE believe that we are the solution, that we are the cure and elixir to this cancer, this disease, this evil that needs to be scourged when in fact we are not the cure or the solution. We are again, foolishly deluded. We are in fact, part of the problem, we are just a cancer that has hidden itself, metastasized in a different form.
Every time we pander to the latest and greatest cell phone a year after the “latest” cell phone came out, every time we choose diamonds instead of cubic zircona, every time we fuel up at the pump, every time we purchase the latest game system, every time we feel we got a good deal shopping on some clothing or shoes we should know that there are “invisible children” in Uganda, The Congo, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Egypt, China, Ethopia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq, and countless other countries across the world who suffer at the behest of our consumption and yes, believe it or not- children die.
So, as we gather, good people of the west, on one special night to bring attention to Joseph Kony and his crimes against humanity, I ask that when we are done partaking of this moment, drunk from the heady heights that always accompanies doing good deeds I have but one request.I ask that before we go back into our world of self-deluded privilege, that we then turn over our hands, and look at them, and if we look hard enough, for at first we will not see, we will find that there is blood on our hands too. Blood, that comes from the backs of these “invisible children” for we too are guilty.
Until we begin to recognise THAT fact and then bravely gather together to demand societal and global systems of justice that provide fairer structures and systems of equity for all of our brothers and sisters around the world, then these little children will continue to suffer with so little just so WE can have SO MUCH. It is in these circumstances that men like Joseph Kony and those who WILL replace him after he is gone are created and there will always be Joseph Kony’s in the world as long as we continue to find faces to paint devil’s on other than our own. – SHALOM!