James’ Story: A Reflection on Kony 2012 and the LRA


The night was hot as usual, but thankfully there was a slight breeze and the mosquitoes were merciful. James was sleeping soundly in his bed…dreaming about what 8 year olds normally dream about. In the distance, there is a rustling of what sounds like a medium-sized animal creeping towards the village. Suddenly, a scream of alarm breaks the silence, followed by a chorus of other screams…but these screams are no longer of surprise, but rather of terror and cries of anguish. The once peaceful night is no more.

Before he can fully comprehend what is going on, James is roughly pulled out of his slumber. His night of dreaming has suddenly turned into a nightmare. Men with guns are pushing him on his feet and away from his parents. His parents try to go after him, but their efforts are useless. James is helpless as he watches his parents get executed in front of him…first his mother, and then his father.

So…what happens next? The police arrive, right? These men are arrested and sentenced to pay for their horrible murders, right? The answers to both of these questions are “no”…because unfortunately for James, and thousands of other children like him, this did not happen in the United States. This happened in central Africa, where the villages are remote, there is no 911 emergency number, and where there will not be any retribution for the senseless attacks on his village or for the murders of either of his parents.

This is not a post about Joseph Kony, the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), or the Sudanese government…it is about James and the thousands of children like him. The thousands of children who were forced to take arms, to kill their parents, to kill other civilians, and watched as people were mutilated. They lost their homes, their siblings, and their childhoods. These children will no longer dream the same dreams.

I know some of you are thinking…this is “old” news by now but the sad thing is, there are still so many people in this world who have never heard of Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army).  I was going to let this topic pass me by, but with the recent arrest of George Clooney on March the 16th, during a protest against the Sudanese government (this arrest was unrelated to Kony or the LRA) and after watching the movie, Machine Gun Preacher (2011), starring Gerard Butler, this week…I just could not stop thinking about the atrocities happening half a world away.

Before you shake your head, I already know the criticism that comes with this situation. I know the main argument is, what can the United States do? This is not our battle to fight and the U.S. does not have any interests in Sub-Saharan Africa, except for concerns regarding oil. I agree with that concern, but isn’t the value of human life more important than the value of oil. Are we just supposed to sit back and let the mass killings of innocent civilians go unpunished…especially after we are aware of it.

Another argument is that, the crimes against children have been exaggerated. Invisible Children claims there have been about 30,000 children abducted while Machine Gun Preacher claims there are about 40,000 children abducted. My argument is, isn’t even 1,000 children, just one too many. I’ve heard how Kony is in hiding and how the LRA have dwindled to an army of only a few hundred soldiers, but regardless these men are still responsible, it doesn’t matter if there are only three of them left. And should we now teach war criminals that if they hide long enough, the world will forget about them and no longer pursue them?

The NGOs have also been scrutinized for the way they have been dispersing funds. As an advocate myself, who does work for a non-profit organization, I can tell you first hand, that it is not cheap to travel to D.C. and that funds do have to be allocated for travel and meal expenses. But you don’t have to donate to these organizations to make a difference. Spreading news by word of mouth is free. You can make your own posters and t-shirts. Calling and writing your district representatives and senators costs little in time and money. Yes, the U.S. government is made up of the few, the rich, the elite…but they are always aware of public opinion polls and key word computer searches are always tracked. I do believe there is power in numbers and when the general public act as one voice, there is a better chance that voice will be heard.

I honestly do not think that Kony will be captured in 2012 nor do I think that the U.S. will do more than they already have, which consist of deploying 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to Central Africa in November of 2011. With this being an election year, I also do not think President Obama or the Republican nominee will want to introduce the thought of another foreign war funded by American money and American troops.

But still…I truly do believe in the power of emotions. I believe that stories like James’, Jacobs’ (from the Kony 2010 video), and so many others like them should be heard and acknowledged. While I don’t have the solutions, I know that most people feel that anyone who commits a crime against humanity should be punished and because the heart usually wins over the mind, despite all the concerns I voiced above, I think that with public pressure and awareness, Kony and others like him, will one day answer for all they have done.

If you are unfamiliar with Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) please take the time to watch these videos. They provide basic background information.

I don’t claim to know all the facts and I realize that there are so many more complex issues surrounding the crisis of North Uganda and South Sudan. These are just my thoughts on the situation. I love feedback. Please feel free to share your comments on this post below.

DISCLAIMER: I am not promoting nor am I affiliated with the Invisible Children, Machine Gun Preacher, or Amnesty International.

For more information visit:

James’ Story http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/kids-stories/

Machine Gun Preacher http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/

Invisible Children http://www.invisiblechildren.com/

LRA Crisis Tracker http://www.lracrisistracker.com/

The Ugandan Civil War and the LRA http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/lra.htm

Amnesty International http://www.amnestyusa.org/

All Africa http://allafrica.com/

Advertisements

About ksoranna

Ksoranna is the ideal version of myself. She is me...but better...smarter...funnier...sexier...

Posted on March 23, 2012, in Make Me Human and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This is a great story and its sad that the world don’t even know whats going on or turn their back on the truth but his story is getting out there and most of us see whats going on now but we need the world to open their eyes and put a helping hand out. Some people maybe like why should i care or its not my fight. Yeah your right but what if this was your family member that your so very close to, would you let this happen to them? Great Sorry Anna 🙂

    KONY WE SEE YOU!

  2. Thanks for the support! And I agree, when you think about it on a personal level, how can you not want to do something.

  3. I don’t think people are arguing that it’s not “our battle to fight;” The argument is that too often aid programs in the developing world are Western-centric and not Afro (or wherever it might be) centric. Far too often the programs are usually white Westerns riding in as a knight in shinning armour when we should really be focused on empowering locals. That doesn’t mean the West can’t play a major role in helping to solve these issues because it can and should play a major role.

    Foreign Policy had a good debate on the video and issue in general. The first link argues that the video did more harm than good and the second video is a rebuttal.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/14/the_road_to_hell_is_paved_with_viral_videos_kony_2012

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/16/kony_2012_invisible_children_rebuttal

    I also understand the argument that we should get involved because even 1 child being forced into this is one too many but at some point a line has to be drawn and it has to be drawn because of limited resources. The American military has already been over extended in Iraq and Afghanistan so it’s not really in a place to help. Even if it was, why not help those along the border of Sudan and South Sudan? Or those in Syria or even Libya and Tunisia as both of those countries are still a far cry away from improving their situation. You also have issues in virtually all of the Asian “Stans,” Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malia, Tasmania, Somalia, Yemen and North Korea. Why not help those individuals? That’s one of the reasons we don’t get as involved as maybe we should. How do you choose which oppressed people to help first, second, third, and so on? It’s not an easy decision and one of the main reasons we don’t intervene (another is the amount of man power/time/money/etc it takes to not only intervene but to help build a better society).

    This isn’t an excuse to do nothing but simply my pointing out the simplification in the video and the damage I think it does.

    Good post, though!

    • I think we are arguing the same side of the coin here. I also agree with you that the video oversimplifies things and that the U.S. must pick and choose which country’s battles they want to fight, but the video is not supposed to be a history lesson…it is simply an emotionally triggered wake up call about Kony and the LRA…and you have to admit they achieved that goal with their 2 million views. But I disagree that this video does more harm then good, because this video has achieved mass awareness of the situation and it has reached people, that I think otherwise would have remained oblivious. As I stated in my post, I don’t think the U.S. gov’t will do more than it already has but I just feel like a lot of Westerners cling onto a “hot topic” and it is easily swept under the rug within a few months. I just hope this is not one of those topics, and for that not to occur, I think it needs to remain a “hot topic” and our government needs to know that the general public still care about bringing Kony and his fellow comrades to justice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: