This week I’ve been thinking a lot about injustice, human rights, and peace. The Kony2012 campaign sparked it toward the beginning of the week. Here’s a really brief overview of the ordeal if you aren’t aware– there’s guy named Joseph Kony in Central Africa that has been leading the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for the past 2.5 decades. The LRA is responsible for kidnapping children and forcing them to be child soldiers and sex slaves. They drug these children and have them do incredibly horrendous things–mutilate, rape, and kill their own families. It is difficult to imagine the horror.
In 2003, a group of young American film makers went to Uganda and documented some of the crimes and spoke with children and villagers who were being terrorized by the LRA. They created the group, Invisible Children to bring attention to the ordeal and campaign for U.S. involvement. This year, Invisible Children has launched a campaign called Kony2012. Their goal is simple–catch Joseph Kony. Seems noble, right? This past week, the campaign has received a lot of criticism.
I’ve been reading and trying to follow both sides of the argument and thinking about it a lot on my runs. Without going too much into my arguments as to why I support the Kony2012 campaign, I will say that I believe the people involved have hearts to help and not hurt.
At its core, I believe the people involved with Invisible Children desire peace and justice for the children and people of Uganda. There is some disagreement as to how this should be brought about but at this point in time, I must say, I think the “just do something” approach is the best one for Uganda. The alternative (do nothing) is just too bleak.
There is a lot of injustice in this world. Where does it come from? While studying in South Africa, I read and thought a lot about the idea of evil and where it comes from. I spent a year looking at atrocities such as the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust of the Jews and trying to figure out what spurs “ordinary people” to take part in the slaughter of their neighbors. Conversely, I thought about what enables other’s to stand up to this evil and refuse to participate, even in the face of their own death.
I didn’t find an answer to my question. But I did come to a scary realization–inside each of us is the capacity to kill. Its easy to look at “perpetrators” and to judge them. To dehumanize them…call them insane…monsters…but most of the people who participated in the Rwandan genocide were not psychopaths.
But there is another side to this coin! Just as we are all capable or evil, we all also have the incredible capacity for peace, love, courage, and compassion! We see it all around us. Where does this come from? I believe it comes from people who have world peace inside their hearts.
World peace begins inside of you. And me. Ahimsa, or nonviolence, starts in the minds and hearts of individuals and spirals out to the local and then global community. I will be the first to admit that I have a lot of growing to do in this area. My heart is often quick to anger.
What does this have to do with Kony2012? Joseph Kony is running a REALLY ugly show. Invisible Children is doing their best to bring his crimes to the attention of the West because they believe that if people know, they will be moved to do something. International intervention could have prevented the systematic killing of 800,000 men, women, and children in Rwanda in 1994. International intervention/support will help Central Africa put an end to the terror being unleashed by Kony.
Do the people of Kony2012 have all the answers? no. Is there a better way? Maybe. Could US support be construed as an imperialistic ‘hero’ complex? Certainly. But coming beside our brothers and sisters in Central Africa and saying, “We hear your cries. We see your pain. We value your lives!” is what makes us part of the human community! Let’s not ‘save Africa” as if we are somehow superior. Let’s find the peace within us that gives us the courage to stand beside the people of Central Africa and say, “Today I am not American and you Ugandan/Sudanese/Congolese/etc., but rather, we are brothers and sisters.”
World Peace does not know political boundaries. It does not know skin color, ethnic background, or religion. World peace only speaks one language–love.
*This post is not meant to argue for or against the Kony2012 campaign. It is simply meant to be a reflection of my thoughts/feelings/ideas of what I believe world peace might be–a movement of love that begins inside every individual. I believe that when humanity joins together and cries out against injustice, peace will prevail.