I woke up this morning, went down stairs to get my coffee, and then – of course – logged on to Facebook. I had 4 or 5 stories in my newsfeed claiming “KONY 2012.” Of course, I thought some new Republican nut-job (or even better, perhaps a sane one) had entered the US presidential race.
But, I clicked on the YouTube video and quickly became aware that it wasn’t talking about US politics. Instead, it’s calling for action against Joseph Kony, the leader of a guerilla fighting group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Kony is trying to establish his bloody and violent rule, based on the Ten Commandments, in Uganda and other neighboring central African countries (according to the Independent). One of the ways he’s trying to do this is by capturing young children, indoctrinating them, and forcing the girls into sex slavery, while the boys are given guns and machetes and forced to be child soldiers.
I won’t say any more here; the video has all of the information. The “KONY 2012” campaign (homepage: www.kony2012.com) is led by the group Invisible Children, and they’re hoping that if more people know about his crimes (he is the #1 criminal on the International Criminal Court’s list), there will be more pressure on the world’s governments to help arrest him (he was already indicted by the ICC in 2005 for 12 counts of crimes against humanity, plus 21 counts of war crimes).
It’s a great campaign. And, it looks like they already got some results: Last October, President Obama sent a small number of US Army advisors to Uganda to help the Ugandan army hunt down Kony.
So, it’s an excellent cause. I can’t help but be a little skeptical that it will work though. I’ve seen people get all excited about a cause before, and then Facebook releases a new layout, and we all have something new to complain about.
However, I’m going to be optimistic on this one, and hope that some change will come from it. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with being idealistic. So, I’m going to share the video, and ask that you do the same.
The video actually makes me think of an autobiography that I read probably about four years ago: A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (homepage for the book: here.) It tells a similar story, but it doesn’t take place in Uganda. Beah was forced to murder people in a savage army in Sierra Leone in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The book tells the story of his time as a boy soldier, but also of how he escaped that life.
It is, of course, a heart wrenching story. But not only because of the horrible things this child was forced to go through. It’s also because, in the end, Beah says that he would go through it all again – the confusion, the fear, the migraines, and the soul-destroying guilt – if it would save even one other boy from having to go through that.
So, let’s pass along the information, and see what happens. Social Media sites played a large role in the Arab Spring recently, so maybe they can help catch a criminal. But first, we have to make him infamous, make him known.