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Saturday, March 17, 2012

My take on the Jason Russell situation...

I haven't felt compelled to blog in a while. Tweeting has replaced long form writing as the creative outlet for my menial nothingness. However, the situation with Jason Russell has been breaking my heart. I will start by saying this: I have never given money to Invisible Children and I am aware of the organization's flaws, misguided ventures, and critical scorn. Having said that, I'm surprised and sickened in some ways by the response to the Kony video and Russell's recent meltdown. I remember seeing the first Invisible Children video almost 10 years ago. I saw it at a time in my life (I  had recently graduated high school) when I did not have a whole lot of ambition. That first film was one of the initial reason's I decided to pursue videography. I saw 3 guys, a few years older than me, who were using video (a medium I loved) to attempt to make a difference in the world. I was inspired. Fast forward 10 years and their work in Central Uganda continues, as has their movement. For various reasons I haven't continued to track with their work, but I have appreciated their continued pursuit of justice in Africa. I understand the response of the media. These white, metro/hipster, 30 somethings in designer clothing think they can change the world. It is easy fodder for scrutiny. They made a video to galvanize young people to put posters up around their neighborhoods. Misguided? Maybe. Naive? To a degree. However, they are doing something. Google (or Bing!) Toms Shoes, TWLOHA and any other number of trendy social justice movements and you will find pages upon pages of critics. Are they an underground Christian movement? Are they hoarding money? The problem is that people are flawed; we are broken. Flawed people create flawed organizations. It's math (kinda?). I firmly believe that Russell and his cohorts genuinely strive to create a difference in the lives of children; a cause I firmly support. When I first read of Russell's meltdown on Twitter, it did not surprise me. The guy has been under an insane amount of pressure the past couple weeks. I tried to picture myself in his position-a young dad and filmmaker who is attempting to find hope and justice in an otherwise hopeless world. I am not condoning what he did, but I also am not sure how I would react if I created something positive only to have it obliterated by cowardly bloggers and tweeters. The only thing that people like more than praising those who strive to make a difference, is tearing people down when they fall. Kony 2012 is not a perfect movement and I even agree with many of its staunchest critics. However, I am sickened by the aptness of people to tear down that which is intended for good.

Is Kony the only problem? No. Is he still in Uganda? Probably not. Will someone step in to take his place once he's eliminated? Definitely. However, unless we are living perfect lives, or have better ideas, we should probably not say a whole lot.

Take off your Toms. Stop wearing sweat shop clothes. Don't buy coffee from Starbucks. Throw away your smart phone. Dump your iPad. Don't eat chocolate. Bigotry and hypocrisy are closer than you think. Jason Russell is flawed. So are you. So am I. Jesus once said that we should first take the plank out of {our} own eye, and then {we} will see clearly to remove the speck from {our} brother's eye. I have a lot of issues. I can look at what Russell did and think it is despicable, but I will also choose to show him empathy because I have a lot of ___ (insert synonym for feces) in my eye as well.