Two Hands and Kony

A young boy holds his gun, ready to shoot

Have you watched the Invisible Children video raising awareness against the tyrant, Joseph Kony? If not, start by clicking here.

This video has been viewed over 15 Million times on Youtube and 11 million times of  Similar to previous videos produced by the company Invisible Children, the video about Kony involves personal narratives of people touched by the child abductions and child militarization in Uganda. This video in particular talks about co-founder Jason Russell, his son Gavin Russell, and one of the previous child soldiers- Jacob.

Along with the millions who were touched by the video, there were also countless critics. While the facts and opinions are strong for these arguments, here is why I do not agree with the criticisms.

It is true- Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) committed injustices in the PAST, the height of which was 1999-2004, by abducting children and turning them into child soldiers. These were strong issues in Uganda six years ago, before the LRA was pushed out of Uganda into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, Uganda has seen great improvements with regards to recovery from the impact of the LRA. Uganda is currently experiencing different issues with their government, namely the current “president” who has been running the country similar to a dictator for close to 25 years. Many are articulating that because Kony is no longer in Uganda and is no longer abducting children, this is not a worrisome issue. I do not agree. As an avid global human rights supporter and student of international studies, I do not see an issue with raising global awareness about the history of these children. Invisible children is the first company that I have researched that has been able to touch such a large amount of people by spreading personal narratives. This has been criticized as a weakness, I believe it is a strength.
The children who were once abducted by Kony are now turning into young adults. They have committed murder, rape, and countless acts of pointless violence. As Joseph Keating quotes in his article (link provided below) about the Kony campaign, “Many [of these children] are still on the streets unemployed. Gulu has the highest numbers of child prostitutes in Uganda. It also has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.” -Award-winning Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama. These previous child soldiers are not accepted back into their homes, they do not know how to live after seeing and committing such atrocities. The abductions are in the past, but we should not stand by and let it pass. Kony still needs to be held accountable for his actions.
Another criticism of Invisible Children is that a large amount of the funding from bracelets and films is put toward further film-making. My argument to this, look how many people they have reached through these films (over 26 million, if you are not keeping track). Maybe the only thing Invisible Children accomplishes is sparking a hint of global awareness in the minds of youth… but is that really a negative?
A third criticism- the company has not yet been externally audited. This could be a fairly justifiable criticism if it were not a speculation. When we find an issue with their allocation of funds, we can analyze, and POSSIBLY criticize it further.

Many are also complaining that because 26 million people are now concerned about the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Uganda, we are forgetting about our friends and family right here in the United States. As far as complaints about injustices here at home, as a future Social Worker I can say with a clear conscious- it is possible to assist our struggling U.S. citizens while ALSO being conscious of global injustices- PAST or present.

Here are the links to two trustworthy articles summarizing why some are against the 2012 Kony Campaign. You may form your own opinion about the situation- it is sure a complicated issue with a rich and gruesome history.

– Guest post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things)

-Securing Rights blog- Let’s Talk About Kony

-Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions

A poster for the Stop Kony 2012 Campaign


7 thoughts on “Two Hands and Kony

  1. This is an awesome summary of the KONY issue, and you are have more knowledge on Uganda than anyone I have read about the issue so far. I think that by spreading viral videos of personal narrative, Invisible Children is taking advantage of the internet in the most productive and beneficial way. I agree that it’s doing more help than harm, no matter what the critics say. I believe Facebook and Youtube are great at intense sparks of interest, but that the interest fades.
    As a humanitarian 365 days a year, do you ever feel irritated by the “band wagon” effect following videos such as Kony 2012?
    Great article!!

    • Thank you for the comment! To respond to your question, it absolutely does not irritate me. I believe that we all have the power to make a difference in this world, and this “band wagon” effect that is so commonly referred to is merely a large amount of people becoming interested and empowered about the same issue. Common interest is what unites our generation and what a better subject to be tied to than global awareness?

      On a seperate note, I would like for the 26 million people who watched the KONY 2012 video to also learn about the current state of Uganda as well as the LRA’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, we are not all politicians, we are not all humanitarians, and we are not all academics; so 26 million people taking 30 minutes out of their day to have an emotional connection with previous child soldiers who live half a world away is a pretty fantastic thing all in itself.

    • Thanks Debbie! Like I said, this is an extremely complicated issue (surely has a larger history than can be covered in a 30 minute video). I do believe that learning the history of the movement is important in order to be able to give full support.

  2. This was a very well thought out and informed article, and I agree with you that the LRA, and especially Kony, need to be held accountable, even if he committed the bulk of his crimes a hundred years ago. I also agree that it is of little consequence that Invisible Children keep 70 some odd percent of their proceeds, though I would take it one step further and take the position that (so long as they were honest about it) it doesn’t matter if they keep 100% of their profits, in that raising awareness is far more valuable than throwing money at corrupt governments. My only caution to you to is to question who and why one nation gets involved with another…the US is not sending military advisors out of simple compassion…if they were, then why not one of any number of other countries where similar things are happening (Mexico is right next door, for instance). And what happens when the LRA is defeated? The governments of those countries are so weak, it would simply clear the way for the next death-squad. I wrote a post on this…I’d love to get your opinion, but either way, I’m not against the work of Invisible Children or destroying Joseph Kony, and I love to see people like yourself who are informed and proactive. Keep up the good work!

    • I appreciate your interest and analysis of my opinion, and can see from you article on Kony that we agree on many things. As you have already read in my post above, my main reason for continued support of Invisible Children is their success at raising global awareness. I believe that we are severely lacking, especially here in the U.S., in knowledge about important issues across the globe. I hate to speak against our history curriculum in America, but we are taught as student that the U.S. is the “end all, be all.” On a side note, a friend of mine is working to get global awareness integrated into the university curriculum here in Colorado, I’ll post about that in a few months if you are interested. Anyway, Invisible Children has consistently provided videos that are able able to make us care; because as I mentioned in an above comment, we are not all academics, we are not all politicians, and we are not all humanitarians. So to get the rest of the world to care is a big step all in itself.
      Now that was a lot of repeating what I have already said (we all blog because we love to talk, right?). To answer your question, I very much agree that the actual PLAN surrounding the Kony 2012 campaign is not perhaps the most well though out plan ever devised. I do not agree that military involvement is the best option to rid the world of this evil man. Not only do we not known exactly where he is, but our military is not trained to handle the terrain of this continent, mainly jungle in the DRC and neighboring countries- this would greatly decrease the success of any mission placed here. Another factor we would need to consider would be the manner in which the U.S. would go about placing troops, we would more than likely need to occupy the various territories in order to have enough control to find this man, and I HIGHLY doubt any of these countries, who already have a less than favorable view of the West, would enjoy their sovereignty torn from them. While it is a fantasy to hold Kony accountable for his injustices to humanity, this mission would just not be practical, especially when (as you mentioned in your article) there are COUNTLESS issues similar to the child soldier across the continent of Africa, but much closer to home.

      I think the U.S. has a very idealistic view of Africa, which is why so many people have a strong connection there. I myself wanted to travel there to “help” before I was placed in the Dominican Republic, saw the conditions of life in a place that is so close to my home. Global awareness is key, but i do mean GLOBAL awareness, not simply Africa awareness. I hope I answered your question and did not simply ramble (as a sometimes tend to do).

      • Thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote, and to respond. I think we do agree on almost every point, and you did answer my question, which I guess was specific to US government (military) action. I still would advise caution (maybe because I’m getting older)…I think most people do “care”, in a general way, and want to be a part of something larger than themselves, which is more specific, but I think people easily get lost in a fog of emotion and don’t consider the big picture, which is just replacing one form of ignorance with another.

        I sort of disagree that it’s a “fantasy” to hold Kony responsible…I just don’t think the US military should be involved, I think its going to take as much coordination as it is going to take luck, but I think it’s possible.

        Any rate, it looks like you’re “walking the walk”, which I appreciate. Again, thanks for your time and thanks for your post.

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