if there's one thing i've learned over the years, it's that the world is a complicated place. we are facing some major problems in the world today, and they're often complex, intertwined, and difficult to understand without major amounts of research, conversation, and experience. poverty leads to hunger and often a lack of access to clean drinking water. there's a serious lack of economic opportunity in many developing countries, which could be because of any combination of violent conflict, disparities in education, or sexism. and often, all of these issues are tied back to politics. in short, things are rarely black & white.
in the past 48 hours, you've probably stumbled across invisible children's "kony 2012" video. it's 30 minutes long, but if you have the time, you should watch it (below). it's compelling and eye-opening and will hopefully prompt more westerners to educate themselves about things happening outside our own backyards.
KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.
however, this video is just a starting point. there has been some interesting backlash against the video, too. you can read a very well-written critique of the movie (and invisible children as an organization) on a blog titled "visible children" here (scroll all the way to the bottom for the original post). and then you can read a response from invisible children here.
i'm no expert on uganda (though i did just start working for a company that's based out of uganda & i'm learning more and more about the country every day!) and i'm not saying either side is right or wrong. i'm simply saying that there are a lot of opinions and ideas out there and i yet don't have enough information to form an opinion about this complicated and horrific issue. if i'm going to get involved in a campaign (or encourage others to educate themselves & get involved), i should know what people & ideas i'm getting behind.
what both sides are saying and doing is commendable. they obviously have the well-being of uganda's "invisible children" at heart and there's no question whether joseph kony has committed crimes against humanity and must be stopped. but at what cost? i strongly believe in diplomacy (even with more vague, non-government groups) and using non-violent means to create a more just and peaceful world. i can't get behind a "by any means necessary" mindset or strategy that advocates violence because it's supposedly the only option left. clearly i need to do more research on this issue before i throw my support behind any one organization or a strategy.
obviously we shouldn't stand around and do nothing. what's happening in uganda is inhumane and heartbreaking and i commend invisible children for shedding light on the issue (viral videos for the win!). all i ask is that you take all of this information and run with it. there's so much more to learn and understand about this issue that we don't yet know. educate yourselves and find a way to create change that is 100% in line with your beliefs and worldview.
PS: for more info about uganda, see here, here, and here.