Do you know who Joseph Kony is?
After this week, I don't think anyone on facebook can say they haven't. In case you are some of the few who still have no clue, let me fill you in on the exciting world of social media!
Recently, a video has been circulating the web. Made by the same people who did Invisible Children, they have started a new campaign to "make Kony famous." Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA in Uganda, abducts children and brainwashes them to kill for him. He has been doing this for 20 years in Uganda, and according to the video, does it only to keep power. There is no underlying cause except power. And yet no one knows who he is. That is the main reason why Kony is still at large. The campaign is an attempt to make him known, which includes informing facebook people as well as influential people in the media or government. Actors, musicians, governors and political leaders are all fair game. If they know, then they could influence the government to change it's mind and act on behalf of Uganda.
That sounds awesome. A group of guys who were touched by the danger in Uganda several years ago are now trying their best to make life better for them. Since social media has become so popular recently, why not organize a campaign around it? The whole world can be reached in days through facebook and twitter. I even did my best at helping out, changing my status to help raise Kony awareness and liking all the "Kony 2012" status's I saw on facebook that night. I thought then, and still believe, that this is a great thing to get behind.
But how great is it? I have seen several people type their concerns on facebook status's, asking whether doing this through facebook is right, whether there is actually a problem in Uganda, whether it's possible to change anything by this. And to a point, I agree.
I am someone who can get behind something quickly and easily. Sometimes, like my Pokemon and Digimon phases, they can last quite a while. Sometimes, like my plan to get NHL player autographs, they last shorter than it took to come up with the idea. I do this in movies and books as well, relating to the characters as though they were me. A good movie will leave me feeling a little funny afterwards, almost like the main character. I definitely felt very Holmesy after the second Sherlock movie. But with movies and books, those feelings are fleeting. For an hour or two, I am the character. After that, I think about what it was about and start looking at things more rationally and figure out how good they actually were.
This, I believe, is the bandwagon mentality.
People love the bandwagon. That's how fads get started. That's how riots get started, as well. People love to join the big group and participate in something important. They want to be included and to be accepted by others. Humans have been like this for generations. It's so deeply rooted in human thinking that it's almost impossible to avoid. Even to claim you're not a bandwagon jumper and that you're an individual is a type of bandwagon. That's pretty much a hipster.
Now, the latest bandwagon is "Kony 2012." Tell your friends, family, famous people, tell everyone. We gotta know who Joseph Kony is. Make him famous, so the people in power can't ignore him anymore. And yet, I'm hesitant. After thinking about this a bit, a few similar circumstances came to mind. Apparently, Kony has ruled the LRA for 20 years, and his deplorable actions were unknown to the global community. What about another Joseph, this time in Russia, who killed thousands, maybe even millions, of his own people through the secret police and siberian labour camps? Stalin's iron fisted rule wasn't ever discovered during his rule, and if it was, it was at the end. What about Hitler, the epitome of evil in the 20th century? When he came to power, people fell in love with his powerful speeches and convincing plans to place Germany back as a power in Europe. The world, and even some of Germany, didn't know of his Jewish genocide until the end of World War II. Did people know how crazy Idi Amin was, or Saddam Hussein was, until they were well into their dictatorial regimes? Evil always has a tendency to hide under the general public's eye.
Now knowing who Kony is, I would agree that what he is doing is wrong and that he should be stopped from abducting more children. Why? Because to force anyone to serve another under threat, torture, and brainwashing is wrong, and so is senseless killing. Yet there is more than knowing who he is to stop him. The creators of the video are American, so I'll use them as an example. That, and because Canada's army is awful to use as an example. Anyways, let's say Obama has just discovered who Kony is and agrees that he must be stopped. To send in troops that he just pulled (mostly) from Iraq into the jungles of Uganda would cause an uproar among Americans who were glad they finally got out of a war. The African jungle is also unknown territory to American soldiers, and a similar situation to Vietnam could arise. Kony's rebel army probably specializes in guerrilla warfare, where as the Americans are straight up combatants. Tanks, jets and a ton of good old fashioned bullets. So though Americans would want to see Kony stopped, would they really want their sons, fathers and husbands to head out AGAIN to fight a war in an unknown terrain? And if Kony is really all about having power, how easily will he step down peacefully?
I bring this up not to simply kill everyone's fun, but to make people think about what they are getting into. It's one thing to say stop. It's a whole other thing to punch the bully in the face. By postering a town, we are saying stop, even though we donate money to the cause and it looks really proactive. None of us, I'm betting, are going to volunteer to go over to Africa to stop Kony. That's someone else's job. That's the governments job. What we have to do is let him know what his job is. Putting it that way, this can seem a little...obnoxious. Maybe the government does need informing, and he does need to see that the popular vote is behind it. It still isn't as easy as just going over and finding him. Kony will put up a fight if his power is threatened. For all we know, the government may be working on a plan as I type this (though I doubt that. I'm typing this at 2 am, mountain standard time). So I caution all of you who believe in "Kony 2012" to think about what it means to stop Kony. Don't simply jump on the bandwagon because they're hurting innocent kids and it breaks your heart. Hearts are easily broken and easily fixed. Jump on the bandwagon when you know that you're ready to support this thing no matter where it goes and no matter what other bandwagons pass by, no matter how awesome they look.
Unless the wagon is full of puppies.