The True “Invisible Children”

As is the case with most things on the Internet, I’m a few days behind the curve on the newest social media craze, Kony 2012. The group’s latest video, which has gone viral since it hit the web a week or so ago, has been hashed over by the mainstream press both in America and Europe as well as by bloggers, folks at tumblr, and other website such as Jezebel.com. All of these sources bring up interesting points and shed light on the real story of Joseph Kony, his army, and what is going on both in Uganda and surrounding countries.

Many of the sources I linked to above have issues with Invisible Children, the not-for-profit group behind the effort to remove Mr. Kony from power and dismantle his empire of dirt. Some discredit them because only a portion of their donations actually go to aid people in Africa while the lion’s share goes to salaries, overhead costs, travel, and “awareness efforts.” Others more politically savvy than I claim that the problem in Uganda goes much deeper than Kony, that the government officials he’s fighting against are just slightly better than he and are guilty of many of the same atrocities. Still more people have taken issue with the self-serving, “smug indi-ness” of the video itself.

I’m not going to pick through the scorched earth of any of these arguments looking for something that hasn’t already been said. Seriously, within seven days, everyone including my technologically illiterate neighbor, Arthur, has harnessed the great leveling power of social media to contribute his or her two cents on this matter.

By all means, if you have thirty minutes to spare and have a fairly keen eye for rhetoric, feel free to watch the video. However, if you’re susceptible to pathos-laden appeals, perhaps you better abstain. All I’m saying is make sure to watch it critically and make up your own mind.

I found a transcript of the video, and I want to pull quotes from it in order to discuss another, seemingly unrelated issue. The driving force of the documentary is the appeal to save children from a dictator seeking to use them as cannon fodder. They show us video footage of children sleeping in piles in safe places away from their villages so they could avoid being forced into the L.R.A. They feature images of children supposedly mutilated by those kidnapped child soldiers and audio of Jacob, the director’s friend, crying into his hands over the thought of his murdered brother and the of living life this way any longer.

There were two quotes from the director, who does the voice-over for the film, that started nagging me and wouldn’t let go:

The video opens with a film shot to capture the birth of his son, Gavin. Concerning this amazing moment, he says:

Every single person in the world started this way. He didn’t choose where or when he was born. But because he’s here, he matters.

Later in the video, after the call to action has been given, he states:

We are not just studying human history, we are shaping it. At the end of my life I want to say that the world we’ve left behind is one that Gavin can be proud of, a place that doesn’t allow Joseph Konys and child soldiers, a place where children, no matter where they live, have a childhood free from fear….The better world we want is coming. It’s just waiting for us to stop at nothing.

First, allow me to say that I hate the fact that men and women like Joseph Kony exist and, for the most part, go unchecked. Do I think any and all possible steps should be taken in order to stop him? Absolutely. However, this video (and the response it’s gotten) has shown me something both interesting and troubling.

He says his son matters “because he’s here” on earth. He obviously loves his child and wants to make this world a better place for him. Likewise, he has spent eight years of his life fighting for the rights of Ugandan children, many of whom he’s never met, to insure they are permitted to live without fear. He seems to believe this so fervently that he’s worked with his friends and fellow activists to put together a worldwide effort at stopping a tyrant. They, too, matter “because they’re here.”

I scoured the Internet looking for information about this director, Jason Radical Russell. (Apparently that’s his real middle name. His son’s middle name is “Danger,” and his daughter’s is “Darling.”) I found relatively little outside of the material on the group’s website and various news articles. Therefore, please know that what I’m saying here is conjecture on my part based on what I have observed. I could very well be wrong, and if I am–glory be to God–I’ll eat my crow from a Knight Rider lunch box using only a spork and post footage of my doing so on YouTube.

The “because he’s here” thing just keeps sticking with me, and I’m willing to bet even money that Mr. Russell, a man who loves his son and desires to care for other children, might also pro-choice.

Apparently, he went to Africa for the first time in 2000 “on a church trip to Kenya,” but that’s all I can find on the subject. However, he has said, “I am going to help end the longest running war in Africa, get Joseph Kony arrested, and redefine international justice. Then I am going to direct a Hollywood musical. Then I am going to study theology and literature in Oxford, England, and then move to New York to start The Academy – which will be a school where the best creative young minds in the world attend.”

He does say he wants to study theology, but it’s mentioned in the same breath as literature and will be done after he creates a Hollywood musical. (Don’t get me wrong here. I adore musicals, and literature is a passion of mine. But neither shape my worldview. Also, if someone is serious about learning Christian theology, he would choose it first and would attend a true theological seminary. You’ll see my reason for not trusting anything coming out of Oxford a little later on.) Suffice it to say that I know many theology students who view it in the same light as philosophy and do not believe in many of the foundational truths of the faith such as the existence of the Trinity, the infallibility of the Bible, and the truth of creation.

I firmly believe Mr. Russell supports individuality, freedom, and the like. Bravo. I do as well. I, however, apply those terms to the unborn as well as children. Why? Because I am a Christian who believes life begins the moment of conception. I believe God intends for each person on this earth to be born and that He has a plan for their lives. As David stated in Psalm 139:13-16:

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.

Based on my limited evidence and for the sake of argument, let’s say that Mr. Russell is indeed pro-life and that he believes everyone should be like him and plan on having a passel of kids with their respective spouse. Even if that is the case, I’m willing to bet millions of people who have watched his film and who have contributed money to his cause are not. I guarantee it actually. Far too many people are willing to believe two truths simultaneously.

When a child is unborn, to many, it isn’t a person. It is a fetus, a zygote, or an embryo—a piece of tissue that is no more alive than a stuffed animal. However, when a baby is born screaming and crying for all its worth, the splitting of hairs and war of semantics stops. At that moment, it is a living human being to any sane adult.

I know this is going to sound harsh, but I’m sure that more of the people who have plastered the Internet with this video (most of who are between the ages of 13 and 25) cared more about Lots-O-Huggin Bear being lost then they do the thought of a baby being aborted. After all, once something is “human” to you, it’s hard not to care, and to them, “fetus” just doesn’t drive the truth home.

However, judging by the outrage over the “after-birth abortion” article by Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubiliniin the Journal of Medical Ethics (which is associated with Oxford University by the way…I told you I’d explain myself on that count), people haven’t completley lost their moral center. These researchers argue that a fetus and a newborn share roughly the same status and that parents should have a right to an “after-birth abortion”–the term they prefer to “infanticide.” Read the two links above; I’m not making this stuff up. I simply cannot understand how people are so incensed over something only under certain conditions. To me, a life is a life, and they’re all worth protecting.

In fact, I don’t even know where to start with this; it’s fodder for another blog in and unto itself. What I do know though is that the pro-choice/abortion agenda and the Kony 2012 movement have a common enemy. Millions of people are asking, “How can an evil man like this be allowed? How can he do the horrible things he does?” The answer is simple. When we devalue life in the womb, it becomes easier to do so after a child is born. Both what he does and what we turn a blind eye to are evil, but many won’t be willing to label abortion as such. Instead, it’s “choice” or “freedom” or “a woman’s right”—these things take precedence over life.

By bringing abortion up, please know that I am, in no way, devaluing the campaign to defeat Kony and other despots like him. I’ll rejoice if he is captured and punished for his heinous actions. However, I couldn’t let the moment pass without explaining that the unborn are also “invisible children” with whom we should concern ourselves. After all, once they truly matter, that “better world” the filmmakers desire might be a little easier to attain.

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8 thoughts on “The True “Invisible Children”

  1. Bravo, Jamie. I applaud your logic and your morality. Thanks for sharing today. This is timely and true.

    1. Thanks, good sir! 🙂 I think the worst thing we can do as Christians is NOT say something. People don’t question things unless they’re compelled to, and that’s what I want people to do…question and use their own minds rather than simply chanting along with the crowd. That’s not how true believers are taught.

  2. Interesting discussion, Jamie. But, if God has a plan for every sperm and egg which come together, and someone has an abortion, does that mean they’ve spoiled God’s plan? Surely that couldn’t be possible. God must have planned for that, too – an all-powerful God surely can’t be thwarted that easily.

    1. Thanks for contributing to the conversation here. If we can dialogue about things like this, answers can be found.

      I believe God does have a plan for every life. Us killing that life or choosing not to obey God with our own has the same effect on His plan. It does frustrate His individual plan for us if choose to do things like abort children, but it does not frustrate His will. His plan for our individual lives is optional. For instance, I made a choice twelve years ago to marry my husband, and I know that was the right choice. It was the path God had for me. However, I was very close to marrying the man I dated before my husband. God offered me a choice, and I made the right one. I chose to stay in the center of His will and have been richly blessed as a result. I am not programmed to obey; I choose it. His will, however, will always be fulfilled.

      I suppose what I’m saying is that His will and His plans for us are separate. His plans for us as individuals are there so that we might live fruitful lives. We have the free will to be able to choose whether or not to obey Him.

  3. Amen, Jamie! You make a good point about the “culture of death” that pervades society. If one can justify/rationalize abortion, where does it end? As the Oxford article shows, once a baby is a “fetus” and not a “person,” it makes it easier to make the leap to devaluing the lives of newborns. One notable professor here in the U.S. has suggested that children aren’t “persons” until they reach the age of 3, which he claims is the age of “self-awareness.” Of course, that is how HE defines “personhood,” and he believes that parents should have the right to “terminate” up to that point. The culture of death is also evident in euthanasia and genocide. To me, it hearkens back to the days of slavery, where whether a man was a “person” was subjective, based only on the color of his skin. It won’t be long before we once again consider those with disabilities lacking in what it takes to be a “person.” Logically, rationalizing and, thereby, approving of one of these will result in the rationalization and approval of them all. It doesn’t take more than a few mental steps.

    As you said, all of these acts are evil. You can’t rationalize one without rationalizing them all. As the Oxford authors said, there is no moral difference between killing an unborn child and a newborn. That’s the one statement they made that I happen to agree with. However, unlike the Oxford authors, you and I happen to believe that both lives “matter because they are here.” No amount of semantics can change the fact that a child in the womb is here, that it’s human, that it has a heartbeat, that it has its own unique DNA, and that it can feel the pain when it’s life is ended.

    As for human rights, all roads lead back to abortion. That is the human rights issue of our time. It is the gateway that leads down this evil road. If one can tolerate the slaughter of innocent babies, what can’t he tolerate?

    1. Bree, you make a valid point with slavery. We see it as the evil that it was, and I’m hopeful that, in time, our culture will come to see that abortion is just as evil as believing a human being is a sub-creature because he or she has darker skin or different facial features. True human rights will never exist if we don’t defend the rights of all humans–born and unborn as well as those who are handicapped or disabled. The elderly matter, the ill matter–how we care for those who need it are the true testament to our personhood, not some arbitrary number a scientist dictates.

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