I shared the KONY 2012 video without ever watching it. It wasn’t until later that I learned you’re supposed to paper the town with KONY fliers. Yeah, I’m so not doing that. Even later, I realized I might have shared something I might not actually agree with. I’m still not sure, because I still haven’t watched the video.
I like being aware. I like knowing things before other people; telling people about good music, a great book, or an insightful article. I think most people like being in on the cool thing, the trending topic. If you’re not in the loop, you aren’t aware, and you aren’t in. Which makes you out. Who’s going to willingly be the outsider? No one. So you retweet and share and join the movement from the safety of your screen.
Which I did. Yet nothing has fundamentally changed for me. I appear to care about an African issue – and I honestly do. But I’m not really involved. Liking a video doesn’t change the world.
Even giving money to an organization doesn’t change the world. It might help. It might ease some suffering somewhere, and maybe even create some hope for someone. But unless we actually change people, we won’t change the world.
I still haven’t seen the video. But I have seen Lost Boys of Sudan and God Grew Tired of Us. I have done some reading. I do have some idea of the issues surrounding child soldiers and African issues. So I’m not saying there are easy answers, or that the KONY campaign is right or wrong. I get that it is all very complex, with all sorts of people and motivations, and desires.
The only thing that I know is that to really change the world, I have to start with myself. Until I can see a person like Joseph Kony as a man, a broken man, created in the image of God; created for good and glory, created out of joy and infused with hope, then I have no authentic hope to share. I can’t ‘be the change’ until I am changed. Nothing I say, or do, or like, or retweet will ease suffering or create hope if I don’t believe that restoration and renewal is possible for even him.
Of course it is easy to see these children as victims. We can easily talk about all the issues surrounding wars and child soldiers and power struggles. But I think it is much harder to see an adult as a victim – as a hostage in this invisible war for souls. A war where death and destruction seem to be winning, and the cry of our hearts is for justice, here, now, by any means possible. We view him through our human lens; he is an adult, so he should know better, and no person should treat other people like that. All common sense things that most of us know instinctively. It’s hard to see a person as fully human when they have no care for the dignity of others.
A video focusing on the humanity of Kony would be hard to watch. Images showing us the invisible chains of greed and power surrounding him, pictures revealing him trapped by deceit and insecurities would not go viral.
We resist the idea that everyone matters, that humanity is central to every human. Dredging in the depths of souls is messy, messy work, and it brings up all sorts of complex and controversial issues. It is so much easier to watch a simple video and click the like button.
Seeing the potential for greatness in every person is more work than watching a movie. But it’s much more rewarding. There is more immense goodness and truth that can be revealed from changing a person than from sharing a movie. Are we liking and sharing because the web of issues draws us in and compels us to involvement, or simply to be liked and shared?
If we can change our views, then we can change the trends, and then we can change the world. At least that’s what I think. You know, I still haven’t seen the video.
Doing soul work is messy and complex. What does justice for Kony really mean? Is it possible to affirm the humanity of his victims, in seeking justice, yet affirm the humanity of Kony at the same time?