A great theme of the Hebrew prophets is justice. They say this kind of thing over and over:
Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17
Last week I stumbled upon one interesting, intriguing, innovative way to seek justice. I watched Kony 2012, a 30 minute video.
I’ve posted it at the bottom of the page, and I encourage you to take a look. Then read what others are saying about it, pro and con, and make up your mind how you will respond.
The creator of the video says that he initially hoped for 500,000 views on YouTube. When I saw it last week the video had been up for 5 days and already had over 50 million hits. Today it’s pushing 80 million.
The film’s purpose is to stop Joseph Kony, a brutal African warlord who has made a practice of kidnapping children, killing their parents, and forcing the boys to become child soldiers and the girls to become sex slaves. The non-profit behind the film, Invisible Children, believes that by raising awareness of who Kony is and what he has done, people in power will be pressured into doing the right thing, which they define as capturing him and bringing him to trial.
The film has become controversial. Spend a little time googling and you’ll read criticisms galore. Oversimplification of the situation, possible misuse of donations, and hidden motives are frequently cited. Richard Rohr observes that “when you actually fight real evil, you will invariably be accused of doing evil yourself.” But you’ll have to make up your own mind what you think about the organization and motives behind the film.
Watch Kony 2012. Read what others are saying. Then decide what you are going to do.
I admit that I am not unbiased. When I traveled to Rwanda in 2008, I learned a great deal about their genocide. From April-July 1994, around 1 million people of the Tutsi race were killed in a government sanctioned extermination effort. I visited the genocide memorial sites at Ntarama and Nyamata, former churches where thousands of innocent men, women and children sought sanctuary and were slaughtered. The clothes of the victims are stacked on the pews, their bones and skulls reverently displayed in a simple, open crypt. Imagine hundreds of skulls lined up on shelves, many of them split by a blow from a machete. Spend a few minutes in that room and you’ll lose whatever patience and compassion you had for violent warlords.
On the other hand, my pastor taught me long ago that “the real issue is always an internal one.” Here’s the issue for me: While the genocide was taking place in Rwanda, neither the U.S. government, nor you, nor I did anything to try to stop it. We said nothing, we did nothing and a million people were brutally killed.
So when someone tells me that we can stop a brutal warlord by putting up a few signs, I think, “Why not!”
I heard Pastor Harvey Carey tell about taking the men of his Detroit church on an overnight campout. They pitched their tents on the vacant lot across from a crack house in their church’s neighborhood. “When a bunch of men are sitting around a campfire singing Kumbayah, nobody’s buying drugs across the street,” he reported. He also reported that they had closed down one crack house after another using the mighty weapon of an overnight campout.
Sounds like justice to me.
Here’s the video: