You've watched the video, right? If not, set aside the 30 minutes. Here it is:
Okay, so we've all watched it? Now, let's talk about it.
It's powerful, right? It tugged on my heart as if it was the first time I had heard these stories, as if I had not spent a good part of my post-graduate education discussing colonization & militarization in Africa and the complexities of pushing American (and, more generally, White) values & systems onto a completely different continent. We have all known this is going on, right? That children are abducted and forced into soldierhood or sexual slavery, that families are ripped apart and fear life more than death?
So what is it about this video that seems to have hit home for so many (including me)? I think it's the way Invisible Children has framed activism--as something simple. As sharing a video. As talking to your friends about it. As donating a couple of dollars. As wearing a bracelet. As being aware of what is going on in the world.
The flooding of Facebook newsfeeds with this video was quickly followed by a similar flooding from those questioning or opposing Invisible Children's mission (two articles that popped up three times apiece just this morning on my feed include this one entitled Visible Children and another from The Daily What). Have you read up on the criticism of this movement? Where does your heart lie on this issue?
I feel pulled in multiple directions--the mother in me wants to swoop up every child who has been put in harm's way by Joseph Kony or any other violent rebel leader; the feminist in me wants to talk at length about what it means to send military forces into another country with no plan for what comes next; the pacifist in me wants peace in this world, and doesn't understand how more guns & troops can mean anything but more violence; the middle class American in me kind of wants to just bury my head in the sand and keep Pinning & blogging & drinking wine & pretending that this kind of injustice does not exist in the world I call home.
But none of those parts of me have a solution to this problem. And I'm not sure that the Invisible Children organization has the solution, either. But I do think that the incredible explosion of attention on this issue is a good thing. We should care as much about what is happening to children in this world as we do about whether that white powder on Lilo's clothing is baby powder from her shoes or remnants of cocaine. We should care as much about the actions of dangerous and powerful leaders as we do about whether Snooki is having a boy or a girl.
In short, we should care. And this video has made a lot of people care. It has sparked discussion and made people angry and raised money and taken over the internet. And I think that's pretty darn great. Also great? The criticism and debate that have also erupted thanks to the phenom this video has become. We should be questioning every part of a call to action that involves money, guns, policy change, and worldwide policing. To me, that's the real goal of this video--to get us talking, thinking, brainstorming, feeling. Whether this is really the year that Joseph Kony gets the justice that he deserves is not entirely the point--having the world care whether Joseph Kony gets the justice he deserves is the point.