Kony and Invisible Children: Not so fast...

Joseph Kony is a scumbag
I’m a massive fan of the West Coast Eagles footy team.

The big problem is, they’re in Perth and I’m in Sydney. Their games are hardly ever on TV, they play once a year in Sydney (and usually when I’m at church), and nowhere in Sydney sells any of their merchandise.1

Yet, if someone was to ask me whether I was a big fan of West Coast, my instinctive answer would be “Yeah!”

Their next question could be “prove it”. My reply: “Uh…”

You see, this is the problem with professing faith in or support for something, but not actually doing anything about it.

I was reminded about this when a YouTube video started doing the rounds. I’m sure you’ve seen it and, if not, I hope you’re enjoying that rock you’re living under.

The film was created by a crowd called Invisible Children, a group aimed at changing America’s foreign policy by lobbying the United States government to militarily intervene in Africa where Joseph Kony runs an army called the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) which recruits child soldiers.2

The thing is, Invisible Children has been around for a while.

So has Joseph Kony. And America knows this. In fact, Barack Obama currently has over 100 US special forces troops making their way through Africa trying to find Joseph Kony and assassinate him (except they can’t find him).3

Suddenly, thanks to this slickly made YouTube video, millions of people around the world are ‘sharing’ their mutual online hatred of Joseph Kony.4

Now, I certainly don’t doubt the sincerity of those sharing the video. Yes, Kony is horrible. Yes, the concept of ‘child soldiers’ is reprehensible. Yes, we should be upset about this.

But I get the feeling that this whole cause is a little like my support of the West Coast Eagles.

If someone was to ask if you hate Joseph Kony and you want to stop what he’s doing in Africa, your answer would likely be “Hell yes.”

But, if they were to reply “prove it”, could you really provide much proof other than “I shared a video on Facebook!”

So this might lead you to donate some money to Invisible Children. The problem is, this sort of knee-jerk donation may not be the best course of action either.

You see, Invisible Children is lobbying for a military intervention by the USA in Uganda. Now, think long and hard about the implications of such an action – because the potential consequences are many. I’ll list just two.

Israel could attack Iran any day now, and when they do who knows what will happen? The Middle East could well explode into an real-life game of dominoes, and the USA will need every available soldier to try and stop a war that could kill millions. Who’s to say that the USA army should go to Africa instead of the Middle East?

On the other hand, let’s say the USA does send in its army. Where do they go? Do they attack North Sudan where Kony is rumoured to be hiding? Do they take over Uganda, a sovereign state and wage their war from there? Do they go through Rwanda where there’s other terrorist uprisings?

The problem is, stopping Joseph Kony is not a simple issue. It’s like finding Saddam Hussain. Saddam was a terrible TERRIBLE person, and was definitely in the same league as Joseph Kony. Yet most of the people I know who are saying “donate to Invisible Children” are those who opposed the Iraq war. Why is invading Iraq to topple a dictator wrong but invading Africa to topple a dictator good?

Now, don’t misread me – I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything.

What I am saying is that you should think and think HARD (yes I just used caps lock) about this. Where can you best use your resources to help people in this world? Because yes, Joseph Kony may be a bastard ( he is), and yes, he may be evil (he is).

But just watching a video and blindly donating money to an organisation you know nothing about (other than their ability to produce a slick 30 minute YouTube video) may not be the best use of your resources.

But above all - don't just sit there and 'like' a Facebook status. Stand up and actually do something!

Just think about what you do before you do it.

1. I own a West Coast Eagles scarf, but that’s it.
2. For a more entertaining version, watch the 24 TV movie – 24: Redemption
3. I can’t source this but let’s just say: I was talking to someone ‘in the know’ in these things and he told me this info. And I trust him. So there.
4. When this column went to press the YouTube video had around 21 million views.