Wednesday 7 March 2012

The Force of Facebook

For a long time I resisted going on Facebook.  I heard about teenagers bullying other teenagers on there.  I heard about people giving a blow by blow account of their day ex. at 12:00 noon I sneezed.  Why would I want to waste my time on Facebook?  However, a writer friend told me that it is a great way to connect with other writers.  So, I made the leap and joined up.  I hoped to be a force for good on Facebook.

Apparently, there are more Facebook followers today than there were humans on the earth 200 years ago.  Seven hundred and fifty million followers belong to Facebook.  It is an almost instantaneous way to connect with people all around the world.  Videos are posted daily on Facebook; my son Thomas directed me to one in particular that he shared on his Facebook page today.

The video is called "Kony 2012".  An American man named Jason Russell has had a mission for the past eight years to educate the public about a man named Joseph Kony, leader of "The Lord's Resistance Army" in Uganda, who kidnaps African children, arms them with guns, and has them kill, for no other cause than his own glory.  The videographer met a boy named Jacob whose brother was killed by the LRA; Jacob's story pulled so much at his heartstrings that he vowed he would do something to help him. 

Jason Russell formed a group called "Invisible Children" to campaign on the behalf of these kidnapped children.  Although the LRA leader Joseph Kony is number 1 on the International Criminal Court's hit list, many people have never heard of him.  The American videographer made it his mission to make him more famous than a Hollywood celebrity.  He tried to get the United States government on board for years, but they were not interested given that no Americans were being kidnapped or killed.  So the videographer turned to Facebook to spread the word; bit by bit the Invisible Children website has built up a following. 

Because the American public became concerned about the LRA, President Obama wrote a letter committing US advisors to help the children of Uganda.  However, the Lord's Resistance Army still operates and their leader still hides in the jungle.  Jason Russell fears that it will be a long process and does not want them to pull out before their work is complete. 

And so the American made a video to promote awareness and gain support for his cause.  In the past 24 hours, the video has received over 15 million hits:  that's close to half the population of Canada!  The videographer hopes to keep up his public campaign, culminating on April 20, 2012 with a "Cover the Night" event where KONY 2012 posters will litter neighbourhoods across the United States. 

My hat's off to Jason Russell -- how one person is trying to change the lives of thousands of people.  Rather than sitting back and saying there is nothing we can do, he is acting.  Of course, there will always be critics who think there is a better way to do things.  However, people wondered why so many knew about the killing of the Jews in Germany and German occupied countries during World War II and did nothing to stop it (although some individuals did speak out like Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer).  How can we sit back and do nothing knowing that the LRA is terrorizing tens of thousands of people, especially children? 

I pray that the Invisibile Children fights this evil army and I pray that their leader is captured.  Someone has to stand up for good.  Someone has to stand up for the truth.  Someone has to stand up for the 30,000 plus African children who have who been kidnapped and/or murdered.  Jason Russell is doing just that, in large part thanks to the force of Facebook.   

If you are interested in the "KONY 2012" video, here is a link:

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