Let’s be straight with this. Invisible Children is phenomenal with advocacy. They will not solve every problem that perpetuates from all the things Kony has done (which they never claim they will), yet this does not mean they should just stay silent and do nothing! I am incredibly thankful they have chosen to take some intense shots and keep going. Well done.
Kony needs to be captured. There is no doubt about it.
Is the LRA still in Uganda? No, they are bouncing back and forth from Congo, CAR, and South Sudan. Are there currently 30,000 child soldiers in the LRA? No, but over the course of 26 years, this is probably a fair estimate (currently there are probably closer to 1,000-2,000 LRA troops). Is one child soldier too many? Yes.
He needs to be captured.
One other thing to think about in the video is the last part about all the children returning home. I am not trying to be cruel at all on this, but this will just not happen. Many of the children do not have families to return and live with. As stated earlier in the video, many of them either had to kill their own parents or at least saw them die. I bring this point up, because so many avenues need to be explored for these beautiful children, as to what will happen when Kony is captured. The counseling will need to be intense. The familial possibilities, whether through adoption or orphanages or other means, will need to be explored. The educational needs of these children are also a consideration. I also bring these many layers up because in some way you need to help work toward this complicated, yet worthwhile issue.
Is Invisible doing some things to help? For sure! Will they be able to provide everything? No. Does this make them a bad organization? No. Is this a complicated issue that needs to be sorted through? Yes.
Here are a couple more thoughts that should be considered, whether it is for the Invisible initiative, or for that matter, any other organization you will look into.
Our Fascination With “A Silver Bullet Answer”
Many people keep trying to put the weight to give every answer on one organization. I am not talking about fiscal responsibility and general accountability, but the fixation on thinking that one organization will be able to answer every single layer of every single problem. Can you work arduously towards getting answers? Yes. Yet, one of the keys of good leadership is knowing you can’t do everything. This is not a lazy resignation, but one in which you can truly know who you are and who you are not.
Now, I am not saying organizations can’t grow in areas (I will address this in the next point), but the problem is that it seems like many people keep looking at all the things an organization is not doing and then use this as a basis to debunk anything the organization is doing. Not only is this terrible logic, but it is completely untenable. There is not one organization that will have every answer. God is truly the only One with all the answers, therefore, even the Church does not have all the answers. It is only God.
This should be a cause and call for celebration in diversity, not a cry for adverse criticism with organizations.
The Need To See Different Types Of Criticism
Criticism is needed. The difference comes between constructive criticism and adverse criticism. The latter only deals with trying to deconstruct something. In the end, this is lazy and irresponsible criticism. The former sees an issue, highlights a problem, and then works to have a hope filled answer.
Constructive criticism is a labor. I think this is one of the reasons it is so rare (also our superiority complex comes into play).
So, in view of trying to be constructive in criticism, here is a quick word to people who keep saying, “Just be happy someone is speaking up!” After being involved in Sudan for right at 11 years and one of our orphanages having several scares from the LRA (so, yes, we have been quite acquainted with the LRA), it is not enough to “just be happy with someone speaking up.” That mentality is not good enough in the U.S. and it’s not good enough for Africa. People are too valuable to be so trite.
I would never look at one of the orphans and say, “You should just be happy I’m speaking up for you.” Yet, this is the exact thing that is being used as a defense mechanism in some of the social media discussions. I want these kids to be loved and succeed, not feel like they need to be indebted to me for “speaking up”. After all, that’s pretty ego-centric.
The more personal you become acquainted with people and the situations they are involved, the more you will put a ton of sweat equity into not only helping, but helping well. Therefore, be this type of person. Don’t just be happy with “someone just speaking up” AND don’t be the one who is just sitting in the stands, criticizing those who are speaking up. Offer a different alternative with your words and actions.
1. If you have an issue with Invisible, I would encourage you to address them directly AND either find an organization you believe is doing something well AND support it OR start your own! I really mean this! Take the leap. Spend your life seeking answers and helping to enter the pain of others. Maybe you could even find out areas Invisible can’t be involved with, since every organization has limits, and then make them aware of your work. It could be a great way to collaborate.
2. Feel free to criticize. Just do it constructively. Choose to believe the best in people. This will help you in your tones and what you say.
3. ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING! Truly get involved. If that is with Invisible, do it. If it’s with another organization, do it. Whatever you do, abhor the sideline. Jump in.
4. If you are on the sidelines, quit it. Jump in. Ask questions. Research issues with vigor. Sacrifice much (in the end you will realize it wasn’t in the first place).