I wake this morning to what could be a perfect social media storm forming just to our south. You can see the cloud bank growing and the winds beginning to swirl through the twitter, facebook and youtube communities. Tweets, clicks, posts all calling the world to find Kony, and preferably dead is the sentiment of many. At all costs, stop at nothing to stop this feared leader of one of the most violent rebel groups in history.
Cartoonish caricatures vilify this one very human man even further. Yes he and those he leads personify inhumanity in their actions, but they too, even as they are overtaken by darkness, are still flesh and blood. We fight not against flesh and blood. Suddenly this one man has become the poster child for all that we see as evil, exploitative and wrong in the world. Maybe even rightly so in some regards, if we were picking poster children. But the hate ridden, somewhat insensitive slogans cropping up in profile pictures and on internet sites around the world. Are these truly helpful? Or is this perhaps well meaning social activism gone awry?
We live here with over 100 children less than 50 miles from Kony’s currently alleged stomping grounds in DR Congo. We have had the LRA (Kony’s rebel army) active less than a mile away from where I am sitting writing to you. Go a mile into the landscape you see in backdrop of this picture above and you too can set foot on the place one of my little girls lost her entire family right in front of her, brutally massacred by other former children who grew up surviving the only way they could in a heinous situation. Now these child victims have grown up to become the villains in a cycle of violence and terror. But they were once victims too. We must not forget that.
We live face to face with our enemies every day. Our little ones often pray kneeling down in the dirt for the healing, the rescue, the restoration of the very ones who ripped their worlds apart. Little eight, nine and ten year olds, and older teenagers making the hard, costly choice to forgive again and again and again.
We choose moment by moment to walk a different way. We walk in the steps of Him who tells us, love our enemies. And what does loving our enemies really look like? What does it mean to love the ones who have maimed, captured, raped, tied to trees, burned alive, beaten and shredded the worlds of those we love so dearly?
Is hopping on a social media campaign that will likely in the end result in advocating more violence in our backyard love? Or even wisdom? Hardly.
I would like to be generous enough to give the folks who are spearheading this campaign the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they don’t fully realize the repercussions of introducing more violence (even though they say they don’t want violent means used, it is pretty hard to imagine the end result being achieved without it) into a region soaked in blood already. Or maybe they really think it will be of benefit. Either way I am not judging them. I just have some concerns.
Here are some personal thoughts to consider from someone who may have the people she loves very dearly caught in the middle of this campaigns unintended consequences on the field:
- Vilifying, dehumanizing even the most vile of our enemies, over simplifying complex international issues into a social media frenzy that in the end result of things may actually promote more violence is not the answer.
- In a region plagued by violence, more violence is never the answer. What you sow, you reap.
- What happened to loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us? Those of us who have chosen to walk in the Way of Jesus need to model His heart when it counts most.
- This is, in my view, a perfect social media storm in the making that in all likelihood will do more damage than good to the very people it purports to help.
Do we want Kony caught? You have to ask? Of course we do. We want him stopped from harming more people, but we in no way wish his annihilation. Vengeance only births more of the same in our own hearts and everyone looses.
Our children are choosing in the middle of their loss and pain to walk in the radical forgiveness without which true healing is not possible. How can we not do likewise?
Please maybe give a few minutes to consider this before you retweet and share #kony2012. And read just one story of what God did back in 2009 when the LRA came into our backyard.
With love from this unpaved road, Michele
-PS If you are clicking over here from twitter, I in no way mean this to be offensive for those believing in what they are doing. All this is, is one very imperfect woman’s personal concerns and musings from her faith journey. It is not reflective of or representative of any official position from any organization with which I am affiliated.