My last blog post was about Kony 2012, an global movement to arrest war-lord Joseph Kony, that was fueled by one of the most successful social media campaigns of all time, which began and was sponsored by Invisible Children. Kony 2012's first video, which came out on March 5, swept the nation off its feet, achieving over 87 million views and gaining national and global recognition on news networks and media outlets everywhere. The campaign lost support, however, when one of its leaders, Jason Russell, was detained after police received multiple calls claiming that Russell was acting "in a bizarre and irrational manner" and described as parading through the streets of San Diego behaving highly inappropriately in his underwear and at times perhaps nude. Russell was later placed in a mental institution, and his family released a statement about his condition, which they referred to as "brief reactive psychosis". Russell's wife claimed that the stress on Russell following the release of the film, due to its unpredicted global popularity, was too much for him to handle, and that he took it very personally when the criticisms of the film starting rolling in. "Kony 2012" was replaced in search engines with camera-phone images and videos of Russell's rampage through San Diego and nasty nicknames to match his behavior. I'll admit, when I first heard the story, I was embarrassed, as I had publicly and enthusiastically shown my support for the Kony campaign on my facebook, twitter, and blog, and I quickly took down the photos I had posted on facebook to hsow my support.
What embarrasses me now, however, is that that is how I reacted to the stories I heard ab Russell, and the hasty and judgmental comments I made before I did any investigating into whether or not the stories were true. I almost tweeted something so incredibly mean and hateful that just the thought sickens me. Turns out, they were true, and it appeared that Russell did indeed go through some kind of short lived psychotic episode, but that still doesn't give me, or anyone else any right to point a finger at Jason Russell or to revoke our support of the Kony 2012 campaign. As human beings, and more importantly, as children of God, we owe it to one another to extend grace and love to one another, and to stand up for each other when we are in need. Despite what happened with Russell, the truth of the matter, and what started this entire movement, is the fact that innocent children in Africa have been (and are potentially still being right this very minute) abducted and forced commit horrendous crimes as ordered by Joseph Kony. I personally find it an enormous tragedy that the people of America, and that I myself, were so quick to relinquish our compassion for this cause because of the actions committed by one person. So I'm asking you to join me in forgetting about whatever did or did not happen with Jason Russell, and in continuing to fight for justice to be given to the thousands of innocent children whose childhoods have been stolen from them by Joseph Kony.
It just seems like such a shame for all the progress that was made on the global level towards arresting Kony, who is #1 on the list of global criminals, to be lost or forgotten, for any reason. We are so close. Please watch the second video, and participate in Cover the Night on April 20th if you are able to.