Shalom! (That’s the Hebrew word for “I speak English; my ancestors moved here at least 150 years ago.”)
Tonight (today) I have three topics on my heart, but only have time to comment on one of them, so the other two may have to wait for another time. …Fair warning, I am not particularly qualified to share on any of these three topics, but it’s 2012 and that sort of consideration doesn’t seem to stop anyone else, so there you have it. Welcome to the age we live in. Second warning: these topics are somewhat sad and wrenching (to me, at least), so if you’re tuned in hoping for lighter fare, it might be a good time to scoot on over to Perez Hilton — I hear they’ve found evidence of a Kardashian/Bieber/Downton Abbey super-meme that actually memes for you, while you meme. Meme.
Topic the First: Joseph Kony.
A video that has been viewed by everyone — no punchline here, I mean literally everyone — is the increasingly-scrutinized Invisible Children sub-campaign: Kony 2012. The video’s aim was to make African warlord, child-slave collector, and all-around asshole Joseph Kony famous, so as to free children and mid-African countries from his grip. In the former, they were successful. But, as Newton’s Third Law of Physics (which was written specifically about 21st-century American media) states: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the “opposite reaction” included everything from general anti-good-Samaritan backlash, to an indecent exposure arrest, to a video of one of Invisible Children’s founders drunkenly suggesting he would keep all the donated money for himself (…as an aside, I pray you never become prominent enough that anyone would have cause to post video of your drunken claims for the entire world to hold you to). If you want details or debate on any of those particulars, you can google it…I haven’t the time, energy, or desire to get into that sort of thing here, nor do I wish to invite the dregs that inhabit Internet Comment Purgatory to start up another lively discussion that would inevitably degrade into which Jonas brother’s veganism caused the Great Depression. What I will say is how disappointed I am in, well…everybody. The true “miss” here in our community’s response to the Kony situation is the lack of moderation, of consideration. Of wisdom. People against the Kony movement took something that could have been meaningful, substantial, miraculous and have torn it to shreds just to feel better about their own apathy, or to try to prove that truly “good” people are nonexistent, or maybe just to pass the time. People for the Kony movement took off with wild abandon before acquiring all the necessary information in exchange for a false sense of self-righteousness, or as a means of escapism to avoid having to be better to the people in their own lives, or to assuage their own guilt. I know that I’m using broad generalizations of each camp here for the sake of making a point, but inarguably what was needed was something in between the two reactionary extremes, something better. Not blind banner-raising and/or finger-wagging at the less “holy.” And certainly not blind hatred and/or the “nothing is better than something” mentality of those who expend all their energy pointing out problems without searching for their accompanying solutions. My hope for you (and all of us) going forward is that when you encounter something this polarizing, you would take a moment and examine the root of what you’re feeling — the cause of that knee-jerk reaction — reflect on it, and THEN seek out the best path to take. A path where you can avoid getting caught in the rising tide of emotion or conversely getting stranded on the dry sandbanks of apathy. For me, that looks like prayer; a moment of calm consideration, a request for clarity, a reset. For you it might look like something else. But whatever course you choose, know that any path that causes either hatred of your fellow man or causes you to ignore the cries of your neighbor is not a path you want to trust your footing to.