What I Feel about Invisible Children

I'm a "feeler". I've written before that with politics, friends, preachers that I like, etc, I base my like or dislike of them on a feeling they give me when I see them, hear them speak or am around them.

Sometimes, I get like a "check" that says, "hum, something doesn't feel quite right" and when that happens, I try to listen.
Me at Displace me in April 2005

I am also a naturally suspicious person, and the longer I am an activist, the more "suspicious" I become.

In 2005 a dear friend, Tori, told me about Invisible Children. I watched the Displace Me video and then Evangeline and I took part in an over night event where we went to New Orleans and slept in card board boxes. It was fun.

The video was very disturbing. It was about the night commuters in Uganda. Children that walked from their village to a near by hospital in order to be safe from abduction during the night. Their villages would be attacked by LRA soldiers and kids taken off to be soldiers themselves.

The purpose of us sleeping in boxes was to raise awareness of this problem and write letters to our congress person asking the U.S. to intervene in this atrocity.

I felt like I was doing a good thing.

Then a few years later Invisible Children started another campaign, again it was about the child soldiers but this time their goal was to rescue the kids that had been taken. I found out that there was going to be a local event and E and I signed up.

The event started at LSU and we walked to the Louisiana state capital, which was a few miles away. It was to represent how the kids are taken from their homes and off too a camp to become soldiers.

When we were in line to get our T-shirts (we could choose from one that had AK47s on it or one with "I love the LRA" on it. We got the AK47 ones, they were really cool looking. I still wear mine because its so cool) I got that "hum, somethings not right here" feeling. It was subtle, so I just started to take it all in, observe a little closer and look for why I was feeling that way.

After we walked to the Capital, we stayed there a little while, listened to some people speak, and decided to head home. Many people stayed the night on the lawn of the capital for the event.

That night I started researching. I remembered that back in 2005, after the first event, I had done some research and found that the Night Commutes had pretty much ended before we had even watched the movie. I remembered thinking "oh well, at least we are speaking up for the kids who were taken".  This time I found a blogger, Texas is Africa who has spent many years in Africa. She teaches African Studies and she was not at all a fan of Invisible Children. 

I read through a lot of her stuff and other links that she had to people on the ground in Uganda who also didn't care for IC. But honestly none of them really hit on what it was I had a problem with.

I went and read articles by many supporters of IC, and there are many but they also didn't offer anything convincing to take away my "something isn't right here" feeling.

Once I started really thinking about it, my problem was that I always felt like I was being played when watched their slick videos. I didn't like the manipulation and sensationalizing that was working so well to make kids feel like they were doing something by purchasing a $45 IC packet and a T-shirt.

The video's are clearly meant to mess you up emotionally. With every video that IC makes they get worse and worse about exploiting their subjects. I fell for it the first time hook line and sinker. But the second time I could see that they knew exactly what they were doing.

And I know that in a world of fake-reality TV we feed on emotional, dramatic, sensational, characters, but these are kids who are being exploited, real lives in a very dangerous situation. It made me sick to see former child soldiers on the video. Kids who, once the camera men were gone and IC went back to their very nice offices in the U.S., would have to live there, in the same country where they once killed other people. How safe could that possibly be for them?

This time with this new video it was Evangeline who told me about it. She said "mom, you have to watch the new Kony 2012 video, I cried through the entire thing!" I knew right then that this would be an effective campaign for the now famous and very popular Invisible Children.

And I thought abut how they really have to keep this going if you think about it. They rent a huge office space, they have spent millions on web sites, video production, etc. They are a THING now. Celebrities endorse them. Even if Kony hasn't been in Uganda since 2009 or so, it doesn't matter. This is what IC does, they raise awareness of the issues of the Invisible Children, even if the children are no longer invisible.

I could go on and on about the facts of the situation in Uganda but other people have said it better then I could because they live there and know the reality first hand so here's a link to one blog worth reading, http://faithanddavid.wordpress.com

For teens, and for adults even, there is nothing like being cool and also feeling like your doing something good. IC allows you to be both. They have a way of selling their cause that works perfectly with kids. But very few of these "gung-ho" ICers have researched Kony, Uganda, or even Africa. They simply believe what IC says about the situation.

I did back in 2005.
May I make a few suggestion to my young friends?
If you want to help the people of Uganda, find people on the ground there that don't speak from afar, but live their lives there, give their lives their, are part of that country, find them and support them with your $45.

Sponsor a child or family in Uganda through Watato, Compassion International, World Vision or an organization like that.

GO, be a part of Uganda, get to know the reality there, instead of the exaggerated reality being sensationalized in order to manipulate you into giving money, time and energy to "feeling" like your doing something.

I know it's cool to get 100 likes on your "Kony 2012" instagram picture, but that doesn't mean you are actually doing something good.

Like I said earlier, I couldn't really put my finger exactly on what it was about the IC campaigns that gave me that bad feeling. I could articulate parts of it but I couldn't find the words to express what troubled me so much about it all.

Then just the other day I saw this video on http://rachelheldevans.com and I got chills watching it.

We cant tell just a single story, we can't buy just the single story, we can't pass the single story down from one generation to the next or we will never really understand each other.

If we really want to be a part of the solution in Uganda, the inner cities, where ever, we need to know the whole story and tell that complete story.

Invisible Children seems to be fixated on the single story. It's what keeps their business going.

My prayer is that the leaders of IC will take all the criticism into consideration and prayerfully ask if maybe some of it is accurate. I think they have good hearts, they want kids to feel like they are doing something so they give them ways to accomplish that. But is that enough? Personally, I don't believe it is.

If you would like to do some research yourself...

Rachel Held Evans posted several, both pro and con IC, links.  http://rachelheldevans.com/invisible-children-kony-2012-resources

and The Atlantic has a good article about it as well.. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/fighting-war-crimes-with-wristbands/254193/


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