Question #3: What is your motivation for wanting to get involved or respond to the Kony 2012 movement (or any other cause)?
We are often convinced by a good argument or the way something makes us feel. We trust in the authority of people we respect, people we love, people we want to imitate, or a good story with a vision that is bigger than us. We love to believe that we can make a difference. We want to change the world. If we think something is bad, we want it to be good. If we see something that looks like injustice, we want to help bring about justice. If someone is suffering, we feel compassion and want to help. What is it that causes these reactions?
The Christian, of course, has the Spirit of God, the Scriptures, examples from history, and the fellowship of other believers who encourage us to do things that are pleasing to God. Your motivation may have been sparked by one or most of those things while watching the Kony 2012 video. But does your motivation to do something good include a concern for the means you use to accomplish the good thing as much as it includes a desire to see a particular result? In other words, do you believe the end justifies the means? Or do you believe that the way you do something is just as crucial to getting the kind of result that will please God?
I’m aware that questions can be never-ending and may even become useless or detrimental to those who are actually suffering if they never produce action. Our fears of doing the wrong thing can paralyze us and prevent us from doing a good thing. Failure to confront injustice out of fear, or acting impetuously because we believe that “doing something is better than doing nothing” are both bad motivations.
Much of the criticism about Kony 2012 and Invisible Children comes from people who have knowledge and personal experience with the situation in Northern Uganda. They are not saying that nothing should be done. Often they tell us of things that have been done. Many of them are simply advocating for solutions other than what has been proposed by IC. And these are not armchair aid workers. They are people who have lived and worked in the area since before the conflict began. They understand the culture and they have lost family and friends. You can hear from former child soldiers, politicians, international aid workers, missionaries, and community leaders who have been connected to the situation in different ways. Many of them are motivated out of love for God and their actual neighbors. They have important things to say to us and should not be ignored.
You need to consider very carefully whether you want to get involved because of some sense of responsibility you believe Americans have to help the rest of the world. That motivation has led to all kinds of abuses of power and influence perpetrated by the citizens of one country towards another throughout time. You may even have the idea that as a Christian you need to be involved because God calls us to care for widows and orphans in their distress. It’s true that he does. But does it mean you are the one who needs to help them every time? Does it mean you don’t care if you don’t get involved? There are an estimated 143 million orphans in the world. The relatively small scale of the Kony situation does not make it less important, but it must be viewed in relation to many other things that also need to be done in Uganda, and over 190 nations in the world that all have issues of injustice to be addressed.
So what is motivating you? Might your motivation need adjusting? What would be the best way to flesh out that motivation?