Unless you failed to check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, or any other social networking site yesterday, then you probably are well aware of who Joseph Kony is and why we’re calling him out.
Yesterday, I was sitting in the locker room after snowboarding waiting for my boyfriend to finish up on the mountain. I started checking my Twitter updates, as I do almost every free moment that I have. I immediately saw updates and retweets citing Joseph Kony’s name and the trending hashtag, “#KONY2012”. My heart started racing. Never before have I seen so many people on Twitter (out of the 108 people I follow) all talking about the same thing. It wasn’t that I was necessarily surprised – after all, that’s what social networking sites are for – but more than anything, I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement.
One of my oldest and dearest friends, Juliette, introduced me to the Invisible Children documentary and organization when it was first introduced. In 2007, I read “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah (a great read if this is something that you’re just starting to get more involved in). The book moved me in ways that the written word had never done before, and I was shocked that so many of my friends didn’t really understand the term “boy soldier”. That semester, I did a presentation for “Public Speaking & Presentation”, a prerequisite course for business school that I had put off taking for over two years. For the presentation, I focused on the topics from the book, the issues in Uganda and Darfur, and the simple fact that while we sleep comfortably in our warm beds, boys and girls in Africa lie awake and worry about being abducted and turned into soldiers and sex slaves.
Let’s rewind. Because let’s face it, some of you are still sitting here thinking, “Who…is Joseph Kony?”
Joseph Kony is the head of the LRA – Lord’s Resistance Army – which fights for, well, to maintain power. Hmm, sound familiar, America? When was the last time that we had a leader in another country come to power because he was able to brainwash a ton of people into believing that what he preached as the truth? And look how well that turned out.
Boys are kidnapped and forced into the army, showing their loyalty by being forced to kill their own parents. Girls are kidnapped and forced into sexual trafficking. The fear that these children must have overwhelms me with anger and impatience. And to put it simply, Joseph Kony must be stopped; this war must end.
The Invisible Children movement called of members of Congress – from both political parties – to do something. At first, nothing happened. And then this grassroots organization showed that they were much, much more than “just a grassroots organization”. And in October 2011, Obama took a stand and did something.
“In furtherance of the Congress’s state policy, I have authorized a small number of U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter LRA efforts in central Africa… Sincerely, Barack Obama”
By sending members of our military forces into Uganda, the USA now has the presence to advise the good guys on how to find and track Kony and end his reign. As quoted in new Kony 2012 film, “After 8 years of work, the government finally heard us. And in October 2011, 100 American advisors were sent into central Africa to assist the Ugandan army in arresting Kony and stopping the LRA. It was the first time in history that the United States took that kind of action because the people demanded it. Not for self defense, but because it was right.”
To paraphrase, the “problem” so to speak, which is depicted in the new Kony 2012 video that went viral yesterday, is that ‘international support can be removed at any time.’ The video shows an amazing segment as to what needs to happen, this year, in 2012.
“In order for Kony to be arrested this year, the Uganda military has to find him. In order to find him, they need the technology and training to track him in the vast jungle. That’s where the American advisors come in. But in order for the American advisors to be there, the U.S. government has to deploy them. They’ve already done that, but if the government doesn’t believe that people care about arresting Kony, the mission will be canceled. In order for the people to care, they have to know, and they will only know if Kony is everywhere.”
So here is my plan for all of you L I P readers, supporters, and fans:
3) Donate whatever you would normally spend on takeout, Starbucks, or fashion accessories. You can send money to: Invisible Children, Amnesty International, Children of Uganda or another organization you believe in.
4) Don’t make plans for April 20, 2012 (watch the film to understand why!)
5) Take tons of pictures of your work and tweet me, @soulrebelx (your pictures could end up on our website!)
6) Make it a personal challenge every single day to tell someone who Joseph Kony is. Like Juliette always says, “Dialogue is the first step towards social change.”
7) Visit L I P for more news and updates on Kony 2012 and what we’re doing to help stop this war.
Together we can change the world. One step at a time.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @soulrebelx
“Please read this blog post – know that there are always two sides to every story but at L I P we urge you to see both of them and make your own informed decision using your best logic. The bottom line is that Kony needs to be a household name – but after that, use your own judgement as to where to donate money and what organization you choose to support. Just keep moving forward with us in our attempts to change the world. –Stephanie”