As the Director of the Compassion and Justice ministry at Community Christian Church, a few of our staff have asked me what I think of the viral explosion of the Kony 2012 movement. (In case you haven't heard of it, you can watch the video here: http://vimeo.com/37119711).
In response to that explosion, there has also been an explosion of criticism lobbied against International Children and the Kony initiative. (You can read one such criticism--that is well presented and makes some excellent points that I agree with---here: http://liferemixed.net/2012/03/08/reflections-on-kony-2012/).
And then, in response to those criticisms, International Children has issued this response: http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html.
Not that I feel our staff needs my opinion to decide whether or not to support Kony 2012 or not, I love and appreciate that there is a desire to think about this critically and to look at things through a "When Helping Hurts" lens. So, I shared the following response with them to read IF they were interested. And I'll share it here for anyone interested in my opinion . . . and it is only that, my opinion. I don't claim it as the typical "community development" position or as the "right" or "best" opinion. It is simply my opinion as someone who deeply desires to see long and lasting restoration come to our world, as someone who deeply desires to see people move from apathy to engagement when it comes to issues of poverty and justice, and as a parent of teenagers hungry to make a difference in our world.
I applaud the intention, the initiative, the call to action, and the inspiration of Kony 2012. I believe that apathy and ignorance are two of the worst evils and biggest obstacles to overcoming poverty and injustice. Kony 2012 is trying to blow both of those to smithereens. Is Kony 2012, if successful, going to end injustice or really impact the horrible situation in Africa? Even if it is, is it the most effective and helpful way to do so? I would say possibly, and maybe even probably, not to both of those questions. Does that mean we shouldn't get involved? I would say no to that, too. What I would hope, though, and what I am encouraging my own family to do, is not so much rally around the poster plastering on April 20th, as to use this as an opportunity to enter a passionate debate and dialogue and rally with others around the bigger issue of poverty and injustice and what our role and responsibility as human beings and as Christ followers is in these situations. So, if people are organizing and planning "poster plastering" rallies and events, I would hope they will also include a time of discussion and reflection and a follow-up "debriefing/what do we do from here?" conversation.
The biggest tragedy to me in all of this will be if millions of people are mobilized and excited about Kony 2012 and April 20th, but then life goes back to "normal" by April 25th. And the reality is that will probably happen for many if not most people who get involved. But, if a few dozen or a few hundred or maybe even a few thousand people are inspired to move from apathy to long-term, thoughtful, smart engagement and involvement in poverty and justice issues, I will say it was a job well done.