Lots of things in this world don’t make sense to me. For example, babies on leashes, dogs that get to run free in big cities like a mile ahead of their owners, why we send people into wars instead of just using robots, and Sarah Palin’s rise to reality TV fame. I guess you could say that I am in a permanent state of vague befuddlement toward the rolodex of ridiculous things that just keep occurring. But of all these legitimate reasons for confusion, for me human compassion has never been one of them.
It makes sense why the KONY campaign went so viral so fast. Young American humans are rarely confronted with accessible global injustice stories via social networking, and when there is a cause that is so apolitical and so relatable — these are child soldiers relatively close in age to many of the causes’ ardent enthusiasts — it seems inevitable that so many people should spawn a sense of emotional involvement.
At first after seeing the propaganda video, I was compelled with a similar sense of indignant outrage. These are kids being kidnapped and trafficked. That sends off warning bells in pretty much anyone. The further I looked into the cause, however, the more I realized that sending money to an organization that
a.) uses only 32% of its proceeds for aiding victims
b.) supports a military that is ineffective and kind of corrupt-ish, and
c.) is gunning for action from a military that isn’t even present in the countries that the LRA currently inhabits
cannot be the smartest idea. Also, the troops that Obama has already planted in Uganda are special cases, most likely very capable, and well equipped with tracking technology. Ergo, money will not be of much help to them, and it will not be of much help at this point to the child soldiers. Either they will catch Kony or they won’t, and who knows whether catching him will even fix the problem. He’s been completely vilified by the campaign, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying invite him to your birthday party, but logically can he be the only person waging a war? Can arresting one man really resolve a regional security issue? Nothing is simple.
But nobody wants to accept being aware of an event going on in the world that seriously offends our highly democratic, highly pruned and condoned sense of what is right without being able to do anything to fix it. So KONY turned into an “awareness campaign” — a term that, like so many other things, befuddles me.
On the one hand, I think it’s wonderful that people my age have been awakened to something even more terrifying than Snooki’s imminent motherhood. I think it’s beautiful that a sense of unity and unrest and perspective seem to be developing, even if there is a lot of ego involved in publicly affirming your own “goodness.” Because at least it provides a Uturn awry from the typical mishmash of Gen-Z apathy that stares me down every time I log into Facebook or listen to myself talk before 10 am.
On the other hand, I’m sensing that there’s danger in an awareness campaign that almost hilariously oversimplifies a decidedly brambly, complicated issue.
KONY = BAD. TELL YO FRIENDS.
And so they do, and everyone feels this tremendous white man’s burden, which isn’t bad necessarily because it does mean that there’s still some vague moral compass for the nation. But I think there’s also a deficit in critical thinking skills. There are so many causes that could use a giant gadgety “awareness campaign.” Violence is everywhere. Syria, and Israel, and the Gaza strip, and child soldiers working with blood diamonds. This is going to sound preachy, and I apologize, but there are people in your homeroom who might not have food tonight, and in my opinion those are better places for your money and attention.
Not that we need to pick and choose our causes. It is possible to care about everything, but to do that you need to think about everything. Awareness makes you crazy, though. It is an extremely frustrating thing to have. Which is why I won’t blame most people once they return to their happy bubble of pretending the world doesn’t exist as soon as this KONY thing dies down.