What to do about Kony 2012
About a month ago, I received an e-mail from a student urging me to watch a video. This seventh grader had stumbled upon the now “viral” Kony 2012 video put together by the Invisible Children Organization. After replying to her e-mail to commend her for thinking globally and raising awareness, I thought that my involvement with this now famous and controversial topic had concluded, until last week.
In the month that passed, I haven’t ignored the news clippings and reports; I’ve seen the skepticism about the funding of Invisible Children. I’ve read about the actions of one of the producers, and I have heard the comments about how no matter how many people change their Facebook status tomorrow, Joseph Kony will go to sleep tomorrow night, still uncaptured.
It was with these facts in mind that I sat down with 4 eighth graders last week who requested a meeting with me. They began talking about how they’d like to do something to raise awareness on Friday, and had specific ideas of how they would like to decorate a few common places around our school. I listened to their plans, offered some feedback, and then posed the question. Little did these students know that their response to what I asked would make my decision about their proposal. I sat back in my chair and said “why do you want to do this?”
Their answer wasn’t about a YouTube video, it wasn’t about a pop star, and it had nothing to do with an organization or raising money. They spoke about children soldiers, young people on the other side of the world who live a life they find frightening and that saddens them. They spoke about their lives in a suburban area and how fortunate they feel. Simply put, they said that decorating a space for Friday was about a reminder of how good they have it, and how they need to remember not everyone else is as lucky.
I don’t know about the Invisible Children organization. I don’t know what their fundraising is for, and I don’t know whether or not Joseph Kony is in Uganda or has left the country. What I do know is that there are documented stories of children soldiers in Africa. I also know that some children living in Uganda go to bed hungry at night, and don’t always have access to clean water. I also know that tomorrow, our students will show their peers that they need to think globally and take a minute to appreciate what they have, and think about those who aren’t as lucky.
In the end, it’s not about a charity or an organization, it is about seeing beyond the walls of your community and remembering our common humanity.