There’s a movement upon us. It has nothing to do with Republican primaries, Peyton Manning’s next career move or rising gas prices. It’s much more involved and much more important.
Whether we choose to accept or dismiss crimes against humanity is ultimately our decision. We can make excuses why we shouldn’t pause, listen, learn or understand. Why should you? We don’t see it in our Connecticut homes, our grassy lawns or warm beds. It doesn’t directly involve you, or more importantly, your own children. It’s easy to ignore because it doesn’t affect your daily commute or visits to Starbucks.
Take a few moments and watch what nearly 70 million people have viewed.
Now, replace your own children's faces with that of the Invisible Children.
The power one person can create, especially with today's social media, is immeasurable. With the right tools and passion, creating awareness about unfamiliar causes can be instant. It began 10 years ago with a promise Jason Russell, a USC film school graduate and crusader of peace, made to Jacob, a Ugandan boy displaced and forced to become a child soldier of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and to its leader, Joseph Kony.
To avoid abduction by the LRA, every night as many as 40,000 children like Jacob flee their homes in the African countryside to sleep in the relative safety of established towns. They are known as "night commuters," seeking refuge overnight at bus stations, hospitals, churches, and temporary shelters before returning home again each morning. Every day they live in fear of being abducted in their beds, forced to kill, forced to become a child soldier or sex slave.
After his trip to Uganda, and feeling the need to bring awareness to the circumstances he witnessed in Africa, Russell co-founded the media-driven, non-profit organization Invisible Children, Inc.
According to the Invisible Children website, “Invisible Children uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in central Africa to peace and prosperity.”
Kony is not fighting for any particular cause. His primary goal is to overpower and manipulate, often using peace talks for the opportunity to murder, maim and enslave. As a human being, I wonder how such atrocity continues, becoming more powerful, without more intervention and consequence.
The approach for capturing Joseph Kony, and bringing him to justice, is simply ingenious. The goal is making him a household name, bringing awareness to his crimes against humanity and putting it all in action.
The 2012 goal for capturing Kony involves 20 culture makers and 12 policy makers in the year 2012. The culture makers are celebrities, athletes and billionaires – Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet, to name a few – sharing the loud message of Joseph Kony with their powerful voices. The 12 policy makers – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Kay Granger, Harry Reid and others – have the authority to see Kony captured.
Together, with Invisible Children and the millions of people creating awareness of Joseph Kony, they are shining light on this indicted war criminal by sharing the power of their names and their words.
Kony 2012 makes it easy to message, call, write or meet the 20 culture makers and 12 policy makers. By using the media tools we use each day, it’s an attainable way of communicating your voice and getting their attention. If the demand on government to do something is strong enough, it becomes a national interest.
I’m inspired, even humbled, by the energy of a generation of young people from all over the world coming together for the good of humanity. Instead of giving up, they tirelessly continued even after doors had been shut and things seemed hopeless.
The dream? To see Joseph Kony arrested in 2012 for the innumerable crimes he's committed, for the world to see.
I've been sponsoring women victims of genocide through Women for Women International. Two years ago, I was inspired to do so through my uncle, Andrew Beiter. He's a social studies teacher in western New York that educates his students on genocide, the conflicts in Africa and the Holocaust. He's also the Vice President and Co-Director of the Educators' Institute for Human Rights in Rwanda.