The visibility of the Invisible Children

I'm blogging about this today, one with the rest of the cyber world because a film, 30 minutes long, has spurred me to do so. If you've been following this blog for some time now, you've probably noticed what's written on its sidebar:

The only way to really change society is through culture ... it's not through force, it's not through armies, it's not through politics (but) through freedom.
An Invisible Children volunteer. Photo from their Facebook page.
And this freedom is granted by education, and education starts with pieces of information transformed into ideas that inspire virtue and value within every individual. Elsewhere, in one of the dearest digital and community projects I got involved in, we wrote:
Cinema as a tool for change ...
To say that the American-produced video Kony 2012 (embedded below) is viral is an understatement. It has attracted over 80 million views over the last couple of weeks. With overwhelming media attention, it brought a local African issue--Uganda's hot criminal Joseph Kony--into the consciousness of the world. The Invisible Children, the cause behind the vid, has become immensely visible. That is PR success no matter how you see it.

The campaign's Lobby Day event. Photo from
their Facebook page.
When the world's eyes are at you, (the harshest) criticisms are inevitable. People picked at the cause's intentions, they investigated on their funds, they assessed their political agenda. They called it all sorts of names from US supremacy to a White Man's Burden type of propaganda. Some Ugandans felt they were treated as "pets" by the campaign. And sure, less discerning Gen-Yers went with it so easily, stopped at watching the video and liked their Facebook page, taking from it a feel-good sentiment for being somehow part of the cause.

At the same time, I think what Jason Russell and the Invisible Children have done is precisely to change the world through culture. Every sort of change, after all, draws in some scoffs and eyebrow-raising. Just observe how angry Facebook users get every time Zuckerburg and company flesh out new layout and features. But without such, Facebook has already ended up like Friendster instead of being the biggest internet entity in the whole wide world (and the world wide web).

But is the anti-Kony cause change for the better? Hard to objectively assess its political or social impact without going through a slew of academic studies. But we can readily give an answer to that by looking at individuals transformed by the sense of purpose, by thinking of others and by going beyond themselves:
The organisers of Invisible Children are young, they are passionate and unlike the millions who have sat at their desks like me and watched the film, they have got off their behinds and done something to change the world. And they have taught other charities a big lesson in awareness, and how to spread it. -- Alex Perrottet
It’s a sign that there are many people in the world who care deeply about the troubles of others, about righting wrongs, and about remedying injustices and improving the lot of others less fortunate than themselves. -- Nicole van Heerden
For me (and I believe many others), this suddenly lifts the restraints I’ve felt in supporting a ‘lost cause’, and suddenly, I feel determined in achieving a unified goal and assurance that success is achievable by my small showcase of support. --Lyndre
If you ask me, that is change through education, through freedom. It's the kind of change each one of us needs.

"The best you can offer a child is by letting them be independent and that (is by) providing education," Invisible Children Uganda director Jolly Okot said. #