Ask anyone you know, and they’ll pretty much be able to tell you who Joseph Kony is. I mean, wasn’t he the only person we talked about, tweeted about and shared videos on Facebook about for a solid two weeks last year? But before that, did a majority of us really know who he was, what the Lord’s Resistance Army did and how Invisible Children was trying to fight the issue?
I remember sitting in my high school ethics class about three or four years ago watching the first documentary Invisible Children put out and feeling so passionate about the issue. It was during a time when I was just starting to get involved with social justice and politics, and the documentary gave me hope for what a few people could do to ignite change in our world. While I never got involved with that particular movement, I had friends that dedicated hours of their time giving talks on the issue, organizing events and attending campouts. They were the ones that really made up this great organization’s following and felt so strongly about stopping the horrid acts this one man was committing.
So when the documentary “Kony 2012” became an international sensation last year, it made me a bit angry. I was genuinely happy that so many people were being exposed to this troubling issue, but, on the other hand, I knew that it was only temporary — just another passing fad.
I was right: as soon as the publicity died down, people stopped caring about the thousands of children who were abducted and turned into child soldiers.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, though. Think of the countless political, social and environmental issues that we’ve encountered over the last decade that people have simply stopped caring about because the trend ended. Remember when everyone was listening to “We Are the World 25 for Haiti," or when people started buying reusable water bottles and Toms shoes? Did Haiti just magically rebuild itself in the time when the song was popular and donations were flowing in? Yes, people still have reusable water bottles, but do they care when they consume mass amounts of plastic ones? And what about Toms shoes? Did people purchase them because they genuinely wanted to donate a pair of shoes as the company promises, or did they just want them because that’s what everyone else was wearing?
I’m not saying that supporting a popular issue is a bad thing. I’ll be the first to admit I immediately jumped on the “Kony 2012” bandwagon, listened to “We Are the World 25 for Haiti," and bought multiple reusable water bottles and a pair of Toms. But what I find bothersome is that, all too often, we forget what is important in the midst of what’s going on in our fast-paced society.
Politically, our generation is preparing to be the next line of government leaders, and with that comes a lot of power and responsibility. We need to start treating that power for what it is. If used correctly, it will be able to kindle the type of spirit we need to fix those problems that matter most. So maybe the next time a “Kony 2012”-like revolution occurs, we can take a step back and look at the issue for what it really is and not just another fad. After all, if we stop paying attention to what is right and just, how can we expect that tomorrow will be any better than today?
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