If you have not seen it, and you have a beating heart and a living, breathing soul, it is of the utmost importance that you watch this video before reading. For those of you that already have, please scroll on past and just give me a few moments of your time.
Joseph Kony has been a part of my knowledge since 2007 when Alex (my Jimmy Olsen from MakeWaves) and I found out about the LRA through Pete Wentz’s advocation of Invisible Children and Fall Out Boy’s subsequent featuring of the issue in their music video for “I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)”.
I’m writing this not to say oh I totally knew about this before you, but to tell you. That film is great and it’s gotten your attention, and I’m so glad… But there are a few details that weren’t mentioned, that you have to look a little bit more for, that you have to know.
Freshman year of high school I wrote a paper on the LRA and Uganda for my World Civilizations class, and our teacher showed us some videos and talked about it in class during our Africa unit. A couple years later, a friend of mine started a chapter of Invisible Children at our high school, and a bunch of us collected books and donated money for the suffering children of Uganda. We told people about the cause, we tried to get our vice principal to have Invisible Children (or Pete Wentz, as I kept trying to push for without much hope) come talk to our school, we spread the word where and when we could.
But yet again, it was social media that prevailed.
Alex and I are kind of peeved. It’s the same feeling we always have when others start getting into a band we’ve known for ages (Alex, I still insist that you are single-handedly at fault for All Time Low’s mainstream popularity). But just now, when I watched Jason Russell’s new film, I can’t help but feel a lump in my throat. In a completely genius move, Russell used that utterly adorable kid of his to really seriously paint the picture: these are kids, like ours, being killed, forced to kill, tortured, raped, forgotten. And they’re starting to become visible.
Kids are being forced to eat hearts. Literally. Eat. Hearts. When doing my research paper back in high school, I read about the most disgusting, vile things that the LRA officers force those kids to do. Not only do they force girls to be their “wives” and become pregnant at 11, 12, 13 years old, but they also force them to hurt each other. They abduct them from their homes at night and their schools during the day and force them to kill their parents or relatives on the spot. They force them to walk miles and miles and miles on end without food or water and if a boy complains, they force the others to beat him. Kill him. Rip out his heart and eat it. That is the exact story I read in a survivor’s account I came across while writing my paper.
In the video, you see those kids walking at night and all sleeping in the same place, far away from their homes. Imagine having to walk for miles because you know that if you stay at home, you won’t be safe. Imagine how scared you would be. Imagine being six years old and going through that. My little brother complains after walking at the mall. For these kids, this is life, another day.
There’s the hopeful notion of returning those kids home at the end of the film. I learned back in freshman year that those who even had homes to go back to, who even survived and escaped, found themselves being turned away. These kids are turning into pariahs in their own families, let alone their own community. Their families are afraid to take them back, afraid of the LRA, afraid of them, the kids themselves. These kids need shelters, they need more of the rehabilitation programs that are currently working to help them in Uganda and other affected areas on the limited resources they have.
Yes, this is totally the trendy new cause, and it’s a little messed up that the only thing that can get people into this is seeing it on other people’s walls, seeing it as the cool new thing to talk about and be seen doing. But I’ll take it. My best friend was going on a rant the other day on the bus about how social media and technology has made us an anti-social, self-centered society… This is just proof that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And turn the system upside down.
Ab imo pectore,