I first became amazed/really noticed the power of it with the SOPA/PIPPA thing that happened just a few weeks ago. That anti-piracy bill was pretty much SHUT DOWN in a matter of hours thanks to a couple of big websites. As I dilly-daddled about the web, I noticed a lot of warnings like this:
"SOPA/PIPPA will shut down this, and all other websites you love! Write your senator!"
That's it. And all of the sudden, people were writing their senator. An Idaho senator who supported the bill commented that he was getting a lot of response against it, but very few people could tell him WHY they were against it. Perhaps because Google told them so? And I will admit, my trek to figure out what that was all about was not easy. I didn't find the answers I wanted to through a Google search. But once I DID figure it out, I was surprised to see that BOTH SIDES had really valid arguments. The flip side of the SOPA/PIPPA coin was not what everyone made it out to be. Sure, I still disagree with the bill, but I found that I had to do my own research (including talking over dinner to people I respect about it) to form an opinion I could feel educated about.
Which brings me to this Kony campaign.
First off, I am obviously not pro-Kony. I have done what I can to raise awareness of some of the dark evil in Africa, specifically child soldiers. I had decided to focus one of my English research/speech projects in college on GIRL soldiers and my professor tried to discourage me from the topic since "there's nothing we can do about it." I was furious and gave the presentation anyway. I did not hear about Joseph Kony 3 days ago. You know who else didn't hear about Joseph Kony 3 days ago? The U.S. government. And Uganda.
So, I watched that very well-made 30 minute video by Invisible Children. And I was very moved. I, like so many others, became suddenly determined to figure out what I could do. The Invisible Children charity calls for military action against Joseph Kony. It's easy to agree- hit "share" and have an opinion that aligns with theirs because- hey- they made a really good video and this guy is really REALLY evil and I'm so full of emotion right now I want to do the first thing I can to stop this bad guy.
This is where things get moving very quickly and can get a little out of control. I have 50+ friends who are now suddenly very concerned about Africa (which is awesome) and are SURE that Uganda military action is the way to go. I, however, am not so sure that they know the history of the Uganda militia, the attempts already made to stop Joseph Kony in the past, and the reasons why this whole thing is a lot more complicated than sharing a video on their facebook wall. I am not going to go into those details here, but here is a VERY good article that critically looks at this campaign that I think should go just as viral as the video.
What I'm trying to say here is, with great power comes great responsibility. We have a moral obligation to those around us to be educated, to have compassion, to make informed decisions. To think not with our mind alone and to feel not with our hearts alone. To instead come to know things that are true both with our hearts AND our minds.
I am happy that Joseph Kony has become a household name overnight. He should not be in the shadows hiding behind innocent babies. I am happy to see so many people really start to care- now let us all have an open discussion with all the facts and perhaps we can come up with a solution.