I have had so many conversations about the Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children over the last few days. This all fascinates me from a non-profit, communications, and media perspective. It engages me because I love and have loved Africa for years upon years. It excites me because I am a huge advocate of DOING something, of making a difference, or engaging in things that will cause change. It speaks to me because it is an incredibly moving campaign and goal.
With all of that being said, it saddens me that there are things that are coming out as less than above board in regards to Invisible Children and their management of finances. Now, I do not know all the ins and outs of the situation, I have gotten and read lots of information and talked with people some of whom know a lot about the situation, and some know next to nothing. I have yet to make my decision as to whether the ways in which Invisible Children has handled their money over the years is accurate and straight forward. Personally I have not found anything I find alarming, but I also recognize that I do not know enough about the financial laws of non-profits to make an educated decision. I am completely behind the campaign, and the programs Invisible Children claim to be work with and towards, yet, I also recognize that there are a lot of allegations flying as to the allocation of funds, and with so many from so many different directions, there is a chance some of them are accurate.
With that being said, my biggest frustration with the Christian community at large is the idea that because there is something potentially wrong or broken with what is happening (or more specifically in this case with the group trying to do something) let's throw the baby out with the bathwater mentality. Since there is a chance Invisible Children (who as far as I know actually are getting investigated) is handling things incorrectly, let's give up on fighting for what is right, just, and loving. Meaning, if Invisible Children's campaign is not the avenue for which to get rid of Kony (and quite frankly many other terrible and evil men), then what is? How DO we accomplish the idea of what Invisible Children is presenting without necessarily having to go through their organization?
I have a serious problem with pointing out the problems, the flaws, and the issues in an organization, a person, a mission etc.. without then posing an alternative option.
Let's say, Invisible Children are actually complete scoundrels; sad day, and thousands of people will feel hurt and betrayed (myself included). However, what then? Do the thousands of people who believe in the cause suddenly disappear and go on about their life (a fairly likely possibility)? Do we stop fighting for the 30,000 children (who many are actually adults now) that have been soldiers at some point in their life? Do we stop working to create educational opportunities for them?.. If everything with this organization ends up coming out as a sham (gosh I hope not), what then?... I do not know the answer, and as with most things, I am fairly certain it is not a simple or easy answer. What I do know is that regardless of the personal motives, the financial missteps, the lack of communication or the perfect storm of it all, the result of creating a conversation (or thousands of them) is a good thing, I hope that justice is served, and I hope that this all begins to open doors and educate people on so many more things than just Kony, Invisible Children, non-profits, and mass media. I hope that along the way, people become wiser (not more jaded), and begin to open their eyes to the THOUSANDS of things around the world that need people's time, energy, and money to solve. I hope people stay involved, even if all of this falls apart.
My biggest frustration with this whole thing is the criticism by so many Christians without an alternative option.
My second biggest frustration is the "not my problem" attitude by so many Christians...
With a completely different shift and focus on this whole thing, I am completely fascinated by the approach, the effect, the mediums, the masses, and the campaign as a whole. I mean, it all appeals to me because I love Africa, children, African children, and people in general, but also I think a large part of the reason it all intrigues me so much is because most of my career has been spent in non-profits, all of my career has been in communications, and people as a whole fascinate me. Which means, the video, the campaign, the messaging all of it are an incredibly intriguing cause and effect situation to observe and watch play out.
So, what now?
Be involved. DO SOMETHING.
Even if being involved for you (as it will likely mean for me) includes giving money to organizations involved that you know you can trust because you believe in the cause... But, stay in this particular conversation. I have no problem at all with raising awareness about Kony, Kony 2012, the LRA, the Ugandan issues (including the mostly post-war problems that they are currently facing), and Invisible Children. Raising awareness about these things is not the issue, bringing these things to light as atrocities that need to be addressed is a good thing, no matter who you are. The frustrating thing (that I truly hope proves to be false) is the financial accusations of money/donation mismanagement on the part of Invisible Children.
Regardless of how things play out with Invisible Children in the end, and regardless of what comes to light with their financial situation, do not voice an accusation on the cause without having an idea of how to do it better or without a way to help. Whether with this cause or life in general, complaining about the problems without a solution just makes you a part of the problem... If your sole way of "doing something" involves finding a way to help (this cause or another that you yourself are called to) does not actually involve Invisible Children, then do that!.. Just do something instead of pointing to the problems while you sit back lazily on your couch. I do not presume that this cause is for everyone (we are all a part of the body with different roles to play), but be careful not to point to the problems that others ARE called to without giving them the appropriate help planning or way in which they can fulfill their calling. There is a chance this will all blow up, that will be sad, and I will be frustrated (and likely blog about it then too), but instead of making this about one organization's lies, it should be more about the issues and cause itself.
"For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." - James 2:26