Monday, March 12, 2012

KONY 2012: 1 week later

Hey, remember this?

(if you're seeing this for the first time, that's okay too, but you might not understand the rest of what I'm about to say).

Don't get the wrong idea about my purpose in writing this - I'm not trying to promote it and I'm not trying to discredit it, I just have some thoughts.

I watched the video, I jumped on the bandwagon, I signed the pledge. I shared the video on Facebook, read articles about it, and joined with others who were planning to wear red to support the campaign. Plenty of others did the same.
Then I started reading criticisms of the campaign in an effort to make sure I was actually educated about the topic. I debated with people on Facebook (which is usually something I try to avoid) about the good and bad, about whether to support or not. I sensed from the beginning that it couldn't be as one-sided and simple as they were making it, but I eventually concluded that despite the imperfections, it was still a good cause.

I discussed the less-obvious political implications with people at school, and I still thought it was a worthwhile cause. If nothing else, I thought it was inspiring that people were coming together about something. That we could all take a step back and say, "wow, America's problems really aren't that bad, maybe we should try to help other people." The idea of unity - human beings actually working together for a  common goal - it filled me with an invigorated excitement. The idea of everyone agreeing about a problem was so refreshing compared to the political heat in the U.S. right now. Following the presidential campaigns and seeing how divided we are, seeing how much time, energy, and money is focused on the degradation of other people, seeing how hard it is for anyone to come together about anything, is discouraging.

That's why I got excited about this Kony thing. The video was very well-made and extremely convincing. I got my hopes up - thinking that for once all of us would be able to settle on one purpose. But as it turns out, it isn't "something we can all agree on."

The criticisms are valid, the flaws are very real, and the cause is in no way perfect. But I supported it with the viewpoint that it was a form of choosing the lesser of two evils, a step in the right direction more than a finalized goal, and something more worthwhile than any of the United States' problems. Most of all I just loved the idea that it was getting so much attention - it's been a long time since one cause has gotten that much face time. I thought that because it was so big it could actually make a difference.

I'm sure it still will, and I think there are enough advocates to keep it moving forward. But even just one week later, the hype (as far as I've seen) is dying down. People have heard that Invisible Children isn't a perfect organization full of perfect people, and they're starting to lose interest. The bandwagon's starting to coast down a shallow slope - it has enough momentum to last for a while, but people who were pushing on the first day have gradually started to let go. I hope something good comes of it. I really, really do.

I guess the thing I've learned from this is not to worry about things that are beyond my control. Whenever I think of the world at large, I get disgusted and hopeless. Seems like every time someone powerful or prominent comes into the spotlight, they aren't as perfect as we presumed. It seems like every time something appears to be a marvelous, selfless cause, there are unseen negative consequences. The world's reality likes to smack away any chance we have of finding perfection or purity.

But I can't live my life only worrying about that. Everything in that last paragraph is completely beyond my influence, except for the way I feel about it. I can only control myself. I can do good things in my own neighborhood. I can give a lonely person a smile, I can give a sincere compliment, I can help a sibling with homework, I can give someone a ride home, I can be a good listener, I can use my talents for good, I can be the best person I know how. I can support a cause I believe in. These are the things I can control. These are the things that will enrich my life. I will be the kind of person that the world lacks. I will be the kind of person that influences the small things around them for the better. I may not be able to save Africa by posting a video on my Facebook wall, but I can make a difference in some way every day.

Is that something we can all agree on?

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