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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bring on the Change. Change is Inevitable.

Note: This was written before Jason Russell's psychotic break. It was my thinking after first learning about the video.

I blog this post from Connecticut to address the promise and strategy of the Invisible Children movement currently buzzing through social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and news organizations. The story is of the atrocities occurring in Northern Uganda from barbaric war lordship and anarchist abuse of children. It is violent and needs to end. As I watched the video (you can watch it here) I was both moved and perplexed. I feel exposure to global crimes such as this is a necessity for the next generation of global leaders. I worry that a generation raised on quick sound bites of drastic information and the click of a few links to make moral decisions before they move on with their life may be flippant and disconnected. This might be more damaging. The film addresses the global inequities and horrific violence of one man, KONY 2012 in Uganda, and for this I applaud. My worry is that a generation will dust upon this VERY real reality with an easy decision of "like" or "comment" and no further interrogation of what has caused crimes such as this. Schools need to teach kids more of the truth - and if truth is subjective, they need to teach kids to think critically about the changing realities of the world.

What we fail to address are the economic realities and how they resulted from history - post imperialism and beyond. In some ways, Russell's movie continues the White man as savior, colonial mission that has occurred for centuries. It is not a good mission. This fails to acknowledge that current paradigms are the result of world civilizations (and as Aristotle would say, the seeds that bear their own destructions) (note: Russell planted such a seed, didn't he?). Nations grew wealthy by exploiting other cultures. African dictators continue to receive support from Superpowers (including the United States). When money is retreated, countries struggle and turn violent. The refugee youth I have worked with arrived to the U.S. as a result of these realities (they are the 1% of refugees who are chosen for relocation - millions more continue to live in poverty and powerlessness). Before these atrocities can be addressed, those of us in America need to reflect on our lust for materials and products, including oil. These youth have joined the U.S. in its traditions of education, hard work, "democracy," and social change --- if they are fortunate to make it in our schools. The realities of their lives before arriving are incomprehensible to a culture of fast food, Wall Street, IPads, and the high costs of education. The disparities are extreme. It is easy to see sickness overseas without failing to see our the virus our own culture spreads.

The saying, "A ship is only as strong as it's smallest leak," seems pertinent.

It is easy, and just, to make Kony famous so he will be removed from war crimes, but the deeper, darker, and more difficult work arrives from understanding history, what evolved so the U.S. could be in an economic state to provide so much for the globe, and the implications colonization has had on global economics which has created such violence. I imagine, with gas costing over $4 a gallon, that more violence is to come. Similar comparisons can also be made with the high drop out rate of urban youth in our own culture, the inhibition of teachers to prepare youth for what is needed because of state testing and bureaucracies, and the ways some benefit on the backs of a majority. I wish I could have more faith in those who are making decisions, but I do not. Those who rise into powerful positions make me nervous - they too often lose touch with what the majority experience on a day to day basis. This is as true for Barack Obama as it was for George W. Bush.

I support the Kony video because it makes me think and, after 20 years in public education, I am a proponent of changing systems. They are corrupt because small percentages make decision for the majority. I am cautious of who I call a leader in the 21st century.

The wealth and opportunities of our nation are not bad. In fact, I applaud that they have provided for more people than in any time of history. Still, I wonder whether or not democracy can be expanded beyond the U.S.. Are we ready to address the concept of global democracy and equity when so many inequities exist in our own nation? It is great that we now have the capabilities of filmography to show realities of the world (they have always existed and I am stoked to see communication move beyond text alone). With this said, our paradigms for what is knowledge, what is truth, and who is allowed to have control of any of it has shifted. This is exciting and new (or is it?). I wonder, will people move beyond The Biggest Loser, The Voice, American Idol, and NFL football to care enough to question their own behaviors and social responsibilities? Is that a lot to ask? What will we have to give up so that young people in our own nation and nations of the world do not have to live in fear of violence?

I don't know. There are many who will claim they know and, most likely, these people will move into positions of power and become the monster they once reprimanded. For now, I am thinking locally as a way to act globally. I am trying to figure out what I mean by this.

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