Friday rant on good intentions

I hate to harp on this, but the whole LRA/Northern Uganda/Invisible Children issue is still grating on my nerves (is that the phrase?). I just came across an article by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy in the Huffington Post on Invisible Children’s “Abduct Yourself” event tomorrow. I don’t especially want to get into another debate on IC and the work they do/have done, but I want to say that how you approach and write about an issue or situation matters. For example, someone who did not know anything about Northern Uganda would have every reason to believe that the LRA was still active in this country after reading Wentz’ article.

He writes:

I watched the film Invisible Children: Rough Cut a while back, about kids sleeping in the streets in Northern Uganda — hundreds of them — because they feared being abducted by rebel leader Joseph Kony and forced to fight in his rebel militia, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). They’re kids. Except no one told them they were, so they carry AK-47s, kill their parents and murder, rape and terrorize their own people on command. In the past two decades, 30,000 of them have been abducted. This is a reality neither you nor I could ever begin to understand. It was one of those times in my life where I was given a choice — continue ignoring the issue because it wasn’t in front of me, or forget about myself and do something. I was losing sleep, I had to go to Africa. My band Fall Out Boy traveled to Northern Uganda to film our music video “Me and You” to see it for ourselves and my experiences have forever changed me.

Everyone I met, everywhere I walked, with every step, the hardwiring in my brain began to change. I was quiet. Every time I wanted to complain, I made sure to bite my tongue instead. One day, we were stopped by some local men holding machetes; they wouldn’t let us pass. The fear I felt was paralyzing, but I looked into the eyes of these men and all could see was desperation. A pervasive hopelessness. These men stood at the mercy of a twenty-three year war.

Of course, the LRA are still active and wreaking havoc in the region (namely in Congo). They are continuing to abduct and kill with impunity, there are still many children whom they have taken captive, and whom they have forced to do terrible things. This is unacceptable, outrageous and terrible. It must be stopped. But I am not at all sure that Wentz himself knows that there is no longer a war going on in Northern Uganda.

There are many issues in Northern Uganda that may be publicized, but war is not one of them, and it doesn’t really do anyone any service to suggest that the war is still ongoing there. If anything, it continues to make the country sound like a scary and dangerous place (the whole “heart of darkness” thing, a line I wish had never been written). We are working on recovery and redevelopment, people are returning home and trying to begin their lives afresh.

I am more than happy to pressure government to get on with the promised PRDP already, to demand more from a Prime Minister who had never even been to the north until last year. But I am so sick of hearing self reflections and misrepresentation of the many challenges there actually are in the region, especially from people who come for a week or two and leave thinking they understand the whole of the situation. You had to go to “Africa” because you were losing sleep? Give me a break.

Anyway, I’m glad if this publicity will help people find Uganda on a map. I’m glad lots of young Americans want to make their world a better place. I’m even glad if Mr. Wentz’ trip has made him appreciate his own life a little more, or to think a little less about himself. Nevertheless, what you write and how you present yourself and your “cause”, whatever it may be, matters. Good intentions do not always save the day.

End rant.

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10 thoughts on “Friday rant on good intentions

  1. Now that Oprah has endorsed it, (see http://twitter.com/Oprah) the momentum of this activist movement will not allow the World to pause and to question what the reality is on the ground in Northern Uganda.

    Am afraid, it the ‘real cause’ is going to be left in the wake of wider celebrity intrests, like Darfur…..

  2. Pingback: Acholi Street. Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Children’s campaign of infamy « Angelo Opi-aiya Izama

  3. Pingback: Stop Kony 2012: Debating the fight, or fighting the debate? | Melina Platas Izama

  4. Pingback: Stop Kony… pero bien informados, por favor. « Reflexiones de una RIta

  5. I opened this ailtcre with enthusiasm only to be totally disgusted, as apparently other readers were, with the coattail-riding and complete critism of IC. It’s not unlike a Ford salesman trying to tell me that a Chev is crap. However, although I don’t need two cars, I can support two causes.My 12-year old daughter was one of those caught up in the Kony 2012 campaign. And the film was discussed with her and her friends you should know that the kids who took the video viral have a completely different spin on the facts that adults seem to want to dissect, critique and obliterate. What they took away from the film is very different indeed: 1. that the issues discussed in the film CAN happen, HAVE happened, and could happen AGAIN; 2. that kids can spread information to each other through the social media that they use; and most important, 3. even though kids have very little money and cannot vote, they can help to create change by informing each other, their parents and politicians through writing campaigns and posters. Adults just don’t get it it wasn’t about money in the first place. It wasn’t just about Joseph Kony – it was about our world and how we in all countries have forsaken our duty to protect the next generation.Incidentally, my daughter has also been a long time supporter of anti-malaria projects, has done projects on this at school, and has even raised money to buy bed nets. Participating in the Kony 2012 campaign has not diminished her interest in that cause.

    • I believe that iisvnible children is a wonderful organization. It is amazing that these three young guys started this empire and I think they’re great for bringing attention to this issue because it was ignored for a long time. I really hope that they reach their goal and stop Kony and continue to be successful. This group has a lot of support and is inspirational.

      • Why the usa is distracting polpee by investing money to stop joseph kony, and there are many criminal who are doing verry terrible and dangerous thing than kony. Like joseph kabila and paul kagame. Those two mans are the one who need to be stop.

      • I think we may be long lost sisters! I have that quote taped to the cpuroabd in the kitchen. I get so lost in the day to day with my boys (1 1/2 & 3 1/2) and feel like I don’t do anything. Thank you so much for this blog post! It is really encouraging!

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