Facebooktivism and Child Soldiers – What you should know about K0NY 2012

Posted on March 7, 2012


tl;dr think before you act.So – I am an individual that tries to love all creatures. I give with my heart, practice ahimsa and live by the tenets of Satyagraha. I also believe in and actively participate in seva or compassion in action – we call it volunteerism in the good ol’ USA.

What I am NOT a fan of is Faux-activism or “facebooktivism” as I’ve more recently come to call it whereby people constellate around a specific idea and run with it without taking the time to think about all sides of an issue. I find that situations like this come from pockets of action and reaction focused on pinpoint controversy – Most recently issues such as the Newt Gingrich Birth control controversy or The Kony 2012 movement have moved into the spotlight and onto blog pages and Facebook posts with reckless abandon. The constant I see is this:  people confuse place where reaction and response meet and for any number of reasons choose to react. Following the catharsis of reaction there is no follow through – any real forward movement or exploration into a cause because posting and writing a few words about it feels like doing something.


Here is a reality check :  Action without leadership, investment or care leads to situations in which the populace becomes a pawn rather than an actor in the destiny of the world.

Let’s take the Kony 2012 video making the rounds this week:

The video pulls at the heartstrings, shows child soldiers from sub-Saharan Africa, and outlines the nauseating things that the Lord’s Resistance Army has done under the leadership of Kony.  With a snappy video montage tells us, the viewer that this is the year to end the reign of LRA. Turns out that Invisible Children, the non-profit that produced this video isn’t exactly pristine in their motives or methods. The use footage from 2003 to gain popularity for a bill that would militarize areas of Uganda…even though they’ve been “free” of LRA violence for 5 years, a peace accord has been signed and this man’s “recruiting” is down by 80% .

We should NOT be using violent means to fix the issue of child soldiers.Additionally – Invisible Children is a pretty shady group that has been called manipulative and dangerous in their actions. They have a 2 star rating from Charity Navigator  and per their own omission – only 31% of money raised goes towards the causes they purport. The cause itself is buried beneath this facebooktivism of the viral video – it certainly isn’t providing healthcare, food or shelter or an education to child soldiers. Invisible Children supports violent intervention in Uganda by an equally violent group: The Ugandan military and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The SPLA is purported to have had child soldiers amongst their as late as 2005  as a person that whole heartedly believes in the tenets of non –violent action, this is what affects me the most. A nonprofit organization calling a violent response to a situation that is steeped in violence.


This feels like a very big reminder that as a population we need to educate and respond rather than fire up and react in situations like this. Yes Kony is nefarious and should be apprehended for his crimes against humanity…as should many others in war torn countries or countries that lack a solid set of societal rules or an economic base to move towards prosperity. Instead of being used to foster a pinpoint goal as it has been by the IC, messages like this should perhaps be appended to a broader message about the hundreds of thousands of individuals suffering across the globe for reasons that can be reduced or even eradicated over time.


Lack of Education

Lack of economy

Lack of clean water

ALL of these things can be fixed 100%. No one should be going hungry in this day and age. No one should have to drink unclean water with the cheap and efficient technologies being developed.  100% of our tithing and social work should go to causes like this…not 1% of our attention and Facebook or blog posts.

I started this speaking about Ahimsa – nonviolence and Satyagraha; nonviolent resolution. If you’ve not heard of these two terms – I highly recommend you stop posting Gandhi quotes and go and read up on his life as well as the life and actions of Desmond Tutu and the Truth and Reconciliation councils. As indicated in the very beginning of the KONY 2012 video – Nothing is more powerful than an idea. This resonates deeply but I think that it also points to the breakdown between thinking and action – real action borne of love for the human race – borne of selfness service – borne of aiding others because it is our part of the responsibility of the human race to care for and support all living things…a message that many of our Facebook posts talk about but that a lot of us fail to realize.

Go out and volunteer – give your time to others. Choose a cause, any cause and dedicate yourself to that – do it with something you love because giving shouldn’t be a burden it should be fulfilling. Continue learning. Educate yourselves about more than your small subset of the world and use that knowledge to give back. Innovate. Believe in the power of reconciliation or the power of a movement BUT be sure that you use your education to look without blinders at the situation and make a personal decision (not a bandwagon one) to stand for or against something because it resonates with you. Screw the horde mentality – be yourself-educate yourself and give.

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