By now, I’m confident most of you reading this have seen the Kony 2012 video or at least heard about it. The video, created by Jason Russell and Invisible Children Inc., tells the story of Joseph Kony and his rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Through the story of a boy named Jacob, people see into the lives of the children of Uganda and central Africa who have been kidnapped by the LRA and made into child soldiers and sex slaves. In addition to telling about these atrocities, the video seeks to raise awareness about Joseph Kony in hopes of getting him arrested.
I could bombard you with my opinion on whether Invisible Children Inc. is financially credible, whether the LRA is as widespread as the video depicts, or whether the “Cover the Night” event on April 20 is worth your time. However, I’m not going to do that because I feel you are perfectly capable of forming your own opinions about Kony 2012.
This campaign is less about who’s right and who’s wrong, and more about the standard it has set for us. Doing the right thing as citizens of the world has become a mainstream mindset for our generation. The speed and power at which the Kony 2012 campaign spread across the web speaks to the strong convictions we have as young people.
Since the video’s premiere in early March, my Facebook and Twitter accounts have been abuzz with posts from friends supporting Kony 2012 and Invisible Children Inc. Our generation is the poster child for social media, so the fact that this campaign has allowed us to use it for the good of others marks the beginning of a new trend. Whether it’s posting a Facebook status, tweeting an image or sharing a video, we have easy access to tools that can help us raise awareness of unnoticed problems in our world.
Raising awareness is a great and positive thing, but it is not the end-all-be-all. Thanks to other campaigns like Kony 2012, the public has become aware of breast cancer, climate change, and AIDS. Despite the huge amount of awareness surrounding these issues, we still haven’t solved any of these problems. This is evidence that awareness doesn’t solve problems by itself.
One criticism of the Kony 2012 campaign is that it will have no actual effect on whether Joseph Kony and the LRA are brought to justice. The 80 million Youtube views are simply that: people watching a video. Sharing the video via social media outlets is just people clicking. Our world’s problems didn’t happen over night, so a video is not going to solve them over night either.
I partially agree with the critics. They are correct in saying that nothing will happen if we don’t take action. But I believe the first step to solving any problem, big or small, is becoming aware of the issue at hand. Our generation has helped Invisible Children Inc. raise public awareness about Joseph Kony and that is something to be proud of. Our voices do indeed make a difference.
But don’t stop after the first step of solving this problem! If we all really care about the children of central Africa as much as our Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘retweets’ indicate, our generation is willing to do more. Today, call your state and federal representatives and tell them that you support the effort to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA. Donate to charities like the Eastern Congo Initiative, Friends of Orphans, Living Water International and SOS Children’s Villages which all provide charitable services in central Africa. These are more proactive steps you can take to help victims of Joseph Kony right now. Looking into the future, consider taking a mission trip to one of these devastated countries. Joining the Peace Corps is an option, too. People who really care about these children’s lives are capable of doing more than just clicking a mouse.
Helping others and supporting a cause you believe in has finally become cool for young people and I think the Kony 2012 campaign has contributed to that mindset in a big way. The video has inspired me, and I hope many of you, to stand up to the world’s problems and make a difference. No problems will ever be fixed if we sit around and hope for a miracle. We have to take action and I think our generation is going to do just that. We have the passion, the creativity and the skills to make a difference in our world.
As the Kony 2012 video says, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, whose time is now.” It’s our world, our generation, and our time is now.