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    7th March 2012

    So many causes, so little time…

    I just watched the Invisible Children “Kony 2012” video. It is very moving. It is motivational. And you should watch it when you have a chance (it’s 30 wonderfully produced but heart-rending minutes). I’ll even save you the time of looking it up by embedding it here.

    KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

    I agree with Invisible Children that Joseph Kony is a criminal who needs to be taken down, and as quickly as possible. But I also agree with some of the criticism of Invisible Children, such as that catalogued in this article from the Washington Post. Taking down the Lord’s Resistance Army is a win, but “critics say it has strengthened the hand of the Ugandan president, whose security forces have a human rights abuse record of their own” (Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post).

    Also from the article is a critique from a blog essentially decrying the oversimplification of the problem. After reading that blog and the blog’s sources, I think that a lot of the complaint has to do with a hopeless feeling that even if something good happens it won’t solve ALL the problems. But it would solve one problem, and that is the start to solving all of them. Nevertheless, I believe the claim of oversimplification is a very serious one.

    When organizations oversimplify the issues that they are working on, it gives the sense that if we just get this one thing fixed it will all be ok. As consumers of the advertisements/news articles/documentaries that give this impression, we now are only on the hook to solve that one problem and don’t really have to get deeply involved. It also doesn’t cause us to examine the ways that our own lifestyles might be contributing to injustice around the world. In the United States, I enjoy an incredibly high standard of living. Who makes that standard of living possible? I believe it is possible for everyone to be winners, but in a capitalist economy, for everyone to win, it would require those who have the most to also give the most to those who have the least.

    Right now I have a lot in terms of education and ability, but I don’t have a lot in terms of financial resources that I could easily donate to help all the groups I want to help. I’ve been supporting a student through Compassion International (I’m on my second student) for 7 and a half years, and so even though I don’t have a significant source of income right now I have continued my contributions so my Columbian kid can go to school (as my credit card debt continues to rise throughout this year of graduate school…). I have also played music for many fundraising concerts and donated CDs and sales to several causes. And of course, I’m trying to fundraise for Swim With Mike again (I’ll be pushing this more soon!)…

    But there are so many other issues of justice that break my heart and fill me with righteous anger. Besides Joseph Kony, there are a whole list of criminals on the lam who have perpetrated heinous offenses against humanity. There continue to be dictators who also oppress their own people for personal gain. And at least 1 in 6 people worldwide do not have access to nutritious food – even though there is enough food to go around! Kony forces children to become soldiers, which is terrible, but human trafficking is happening on every continent.

    There are so many more problems and horrifying stories of injustice. But there are also many uplifting stories of people working tirelessly on solutions and to eliminate injustice. It is difficult to decide what I should spend time and resources supporting, and whose cause I should champion with my words. There are not enough hours in the day – I have not even mentioned all of the domestic issues I could talk about, especially with regards to education and public health policy. When I am overwhelmed by all of these things, I remember that I can still pray to the God who chooses to work through people who are caught in slavery and oppression.

    I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant… Therefore, say to the Israelites: I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
    -God to Moses in Exodus

    So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child..
    -Paul in his letter to the Galatians

    Lord, show us the ways that we can work with you in establishing your justice, your peace, and your kingdom here on earth.


    2 Responses to “So many causes, so little time…”

    1. Seth Daire says:

      Thoughtful post.
      Invisible Children isn’t perfect, and yes, the issues are complex, but they also have made the general public aware of the bain of child soldiers and done more than should have been possible for 3 college guys. I’m reading Children at War by P.W. Singer, which is a well researched book about child soldiers. The LRA is a key example, but this trend is everywhere, and even Uganda’s government has made use of child soldiers. But we all have to start somewhere with something specific, and do what we can.

    2. Daryl says:

      Seth, good to hear from you. I saw some of your thoughts on facebook about this same thing, and when I first saw the name PW Singer, I thought it was Peter Singer the Australian ethics philosopher, but it isn’t! Anyway, I like what you say about starting with something specific and doing what we can do. That’s an important point in thinking about not losing hope. It reminds me of listening to the guy from IJM talking about Jesus asking for what the boy had in his lunch pail that one day – and then using it to feed 5000. We don’t have to supply the miracle, only what we have.

      And I really am glad people are talking about Invisible Children now.

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    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.