The recent explosion of Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign has prompted a mass response across the world, but it's also garnered its fair share of criticisms as well.
Some are bothered by the U.S. troop presence in Africa to assist and advise Ugandan military. Others claim that Invisible Children keep over 70% of donations, making it the most profitable non-profit ever (you can view their financials here and decide for yourself). Still others are bothered, not by the organization itself, but the trendiness of this campaign.
So, where to begin?
I've financially supported Invisible Children and their mission for a couple years now. I'm a part of their TRI Legacy program, which seeks to provide scholarships and education for the children in LRA affected regions. It also used a portion of donated funds to implement an early warning radio network, for the purpose of tracking LRA movements, warning the local populace ahead of time. A practical move, to ensure the safety of children in isolated villages.
I feel privileged to be a part of something that, I believe, brings freedom, hope and peace to those in war torn regions.
As far as troop involvement goes, I understand how some of my friends may be wary. Just because something bad happens in the world, should America just ship our troops out to police different regions? There isn't an easy answer to this. I personally believe, morally, it's our duty to liberate the oppressed, and to defend the defenseless, as best as we know how. We won't always get it right, but we need to try. We've been blessed to grow up in a relatively safe, stable, prosperous nation. Not everyone does.
I think the greatest problem, that several people I know have, with this campaign, is the fact that it's prominent because it's "trendy." This organization has been around for several years now. But, now that it's exploding, everyone wants a piece of the dream so to speak.
I understand that.
It's very hard to live in a secure, overall wealthy nation, trying to get people involved in causes beyond themselves. It's hard to see the indifference of the youth of this nation, who think they have it rough, and choose to live frivolously. I get it.
But here's the thing...
That doesn't change the importance of this campaign.
Tonight, I was reminded of a story in Jesus' biographies about an interaction between Jesus and his disciples. Apparently, Jesus' followers had found out that another man was capitalizing on Jesus' popularity as a rabbi, and was using his name to perform good works. Jesus' disciples were upset, and demanded that Jesus put a stop to it.
You know what he said?
He said; "Let him."
Jesus understood that his name, and the works that were being performed, served a greater good than a man merely trying to gain from current popular opinion.
This is what Kony 2012 is to me.
It's about moving for something that matters, rather than remaining stagnant in our pool of self-absorption. Even if it's only for a year, a month, or a week.
I understand that, for some, this will be about as "socially active" as they'll ever get in their life. They may not ever give a second thought to Uganda, or the suffering of the people of the world once this drops off Facebook. This does genuinely sadden me.
But, does that make the work of the Invisible Children any less compelling? Does trying to free children from abduction, and immersion in a world of violence, lose its value, if those who support the cause aren't die hard, or don't fully understand the significance of the cause they support?
Does releasing a girl from sexual slavery, providing her an education, and giving her a future suddenly become irrelevant?
There's a fine line between realism, and cynicism. I used to be a cynic. Unable to see redemptive qualities in anything. Always critical, skeptical, and unwilling to accept altruism. Things change.
As a follower of Jesus, I'm called to spread hope to the world. Not cynicism. In fact, hope is absolutely necessary for the human spirit to flourish, and to reach its full potential. Without hope, life becomes miserable, and meaningless.
It's ok to dream for better, my friends. It's even better to act on those dreams. If I can help to make this world better for even one person, then this life thing is worthwhile.
In life there will always be those who are slaves to trends. There will also be those who are tirelessly working to make the world a better place. But even those who are only involved while the issue is hot, and the graphics are cool, serve a greater purpose, even if they personally aren't enriched in the ways that matter from the experience itself.
Would I love for every social net-worker to fully understand the beauty of the opportunities that Kony 2012 can create for this world? Absolutely.
Will I disparage them from being involved if they don't? Not in the least.
Personal motivations don't change the fact that doing the right thing is right, and they never will.