Because I am an eternal skeptic by nature and design, I immediately felt the internal brakes hit when the Kony2012 campaign hit Facebook and proceeded to “go viral”. Well, honestly, ANYTHING that hits Facebook procures that kind of reaction out of me. In furtherance of the education of one 12 year old, 1/2 African child, we read the CNN news article, he watched the entire video, and we endured the expected and intensely emotional response and need to “do something, Mom.”
Ah, now the moment of true education: “Son, find even one story on the internet that you feel like balances out your strong emotional response to what you just saw. Oh, and while you are at it, perhaps research a few facts where possible and contact your dad. You can use my cell phone to text him if you like.” And so, reluctantly, he did so on both fronts.
We gathered information, added what appeared to be some facts to the mix, and an amazing thing happened – the strong emotions began to give way and a couple of important things happened. He learned from his well-read and politically savvy dad that Kony has been long gone and that the atrocities discussed were ignored largely by the entire world back when they happened. He learned that Kony began with a somewhat familiar religious/conservative agenda… one he sees in this country quite often in fact. He learned that Kony had gone into other countries and there were few followers left. He learned that the northern Ugandans had no flippin’ idea what was going on with this campaign that was about THEM.
Even more amazingly, as the facts tempered the strong emotion in the boy, a new emotion arose, one of anger at having his Kony anger tempered. He liked believing the story of a bad guy and that the world’s people could come together and DO SOMETHING to save and protect and make better.
True to form, Al Jazeera (probably facing the same skeptical response I had), dug a little more deeply and has produced a video and story to give a more full and timely Kony picture. The Ugandans are offended at the exposure and media attention Kony and his visage are getting. In the video, Leo Odongo, a Ugandan who attended the screening of the film, explained how he felt by suggesting that if people were selling Osama Bin Laden t-shirts and other memorabilia with his photo on it to “raise awareness, Americans would find that highly offensive. He goes on:
“If people in those countries care about us, they will not wear t-shirts with pictures of Joseph Kony for any reason. That would celebrate our suffering.” Leo Odongo supports that campaign for Kony’s arrest, but finds the methods highly offensive. Turns out all the Ugandans who attended a screening of the film reacted in like manner.
And consistent with my bend to make certain my son has a well-rounded intellectual and analytical base, I learned another very valuable lesson. Our kids need something to believe in and feel passionate about (prepositions intentionally dangling), and they need to be able to DO SOMETHING about what they feel.
This news article talking to real live Ugandans isn’t going “viral” on Facebook. In fact, I do not even see it posted. Things that make ya’ go “hum….” A few of the comments at the bottom of the story pretty much tell it all… and not one appears to be from a genuine Ugandan at the time of this posting. Go figure.