If you are on facebook you have probably encountered the following video about a man named Joseph Kony:
There has been plenty of criticism of the video to go around. Some of the points are legitimate such as where the money the organization makes from contributions is going. Other people criticize the sharing of the video as slacktivism, a derogatory term coined to describe attempts to make a difference without doing much actual work. While I understand these concerns I do not agree with them. Our history has shown that powerful opinion that is widely circulated has the power to make a difference. Whether it is a video on YouTube found on social media or an opinion piece printed in a newspaper these arguments cause people to think and spur them to action.
The fact that the criticisms of the video have been circulating almost as widely as the video itself is a sign of an engaged citizenship that is thinking critically. People are aware that they are hearing only one side of the story in the video and want to learn more. Mainstream outlets like NPR and New York Times have posted analysis of the video. Many of my friends have posted critical links on facebook and some have even gone as far as asking others to consider the implications of engaging in an intervention. It is important to ask if we have the resources to dispense justice everywhere. Why should we go after Joseph Kony and not try to liberate North Korea? These are hard and complicated questions with multiple dimensions and viewpoints.
Fortunately it seems that this is a problem on the cusp of solution. The NPR piece suggests that the state department has been tackling the issue for two decades and they are on the verge of resolving the problems in Uganda. The Invisible Children organization has been using money to build communication infrastructure in the country. With little effort it sounds as if the capstone to this story will be a successful ending. It is important that we remember that it is not just Invisible Children that should get the credit, but the many others that have been involved over the past decades.