A Movement Is Only As Strong As It’s Leader?

Recently I posted about Kony 2012 (original post here).  After the video was released there was a firestorm of reaction.  People took to the web in various forms to either support to denounce the cause.  Twitter was a blaze with the hashtag #kony2012 for several days while the video has received over 83 million views on YouTube alone (that doesn’t count the video on Vimeo).

In the wake of the backlash of Kony 2012, Invisible Children (the non-profit organization behind the movement) has responded with posting answers to frequently asked questions and compiling their financial statements.   All seemed to be fine as people moved on to March Maddness and Payton Manning Watch 2012 until Jason Russell, one of the co-founders of Invisible Children got arrested.  And it wasnt that he just got arrested it was the fact that he was arrested naked, and maybe drunk and maybe doing inappropriate things in view of the public.

News of this spread around the web faster than the oringial Kony 2012 video… hashtags of #horny2012 or #bony2012 began to pop up all over Twitter, even making it to “top trends.”  While the exact cause(s) have not been officially released but that hasn’t stopped the speculation.

Now I know I am a bit late in writing about this but I wanted to see what would come of it.

This got me thinking… how will this effect the Kony 2012 movement?  Will the movement now be tainted?  Should people who are supporting this not because of Jason Russell’s actions?  If Russell’s arrest teaches us anything is that no matter how well intentioned, at our core we are all human and ultimately can make mistakes.  I hope that it was just dehydration and not something more serious.

In our culture, we hold up people to almost perfect standards.  At the sign of struggle or making a gaff then everything you stand for or are fighting for is put into question.  Campaigns, causes and movements are all examined under a metaphorical microscope to point out flaws and inconsistencies.

Prior to this very public incident, Kony 2012 has completely sold out of their ‘action kits’, t-shirts and wristbands.  Is this because Kony 2012 a fad?  Will it actually help to find Kony and have him brought to trial with the ICC?  Is shedding light on Kony making him famous like Invisible Children want?  Or is it because this is a cause that people resonate with?

Honestly, I do not know… only time will tell…

I do believe that shedding light on Kony’s actions which most of the world did not know about it a good thing.  If hearing about the plight of the children that have been effected by him turns our stomachs then something must be done.  Sure there are children dying around the world and even in our own backyard and they need to have a voice too.  God’s call for humanity to love is one that transcends country barriers, skin color and language.  It is at the core of the gospel message.

In the end I am sure we will never know the full extent of what really happened with Jason Russell, but the fact still remains that the Kony 2012 campaign is still a hot topic of debate.

5 thoughts on “A Movement Is Only As Strong As It’s Leader?

  1. Dude, couldn’t agree more. My comment is an exerpt from an old post of mine:

    “…So, over the past few years I’ve admittedly become jaded with the church. I guess time and time again people and churches have let me down. Or did they? My entire life I’ve always placed my church relationships on a pedestal. It’s taken me up until these past few years to realize that everyone at a church is a human. Shocking, I know. But I’ve had pastors that have deeply disappointed me. But when they did, I treated it like it was God that was letting me down. Though pastors have a greater responsibility for their church, they’re still sinners. They still screw up. But why is that so hard to accept? Still don’t have the answer to that one. But I think knowing this helps me with my church relationships…”


  2. Thanks for sharing this Evan. Like you, I also have known about Kony before the release of the video and I (for one) have felt powerless to do the first thing about it. So when I saw this video I was quick to jump on board. I have been really disappointed with how people have (like you said) “reacted” to the video. Many have made Jason Russell into a corrupt, egotistical, glory-hound, and I am very disappointed how these people have pulled our attention from this very real issue and instead focused on real and imagined shortcomings of the video. As a result, some have voiced regret in promoting the video, but I still feel the video has done a great service. I’ll be the first to admit that the video wasn’t perfect, but it also isn’t guilty of many of the accusations leveled against it. As for Russell’s arrest, the report I read said that he was taken to the hospital and not jail, because they didn’t think it was drug related. His wife said that he had taken the attacks on the video very personally and that it had created great strain on him. I really feel for the guy. I have no doubt that he is actually very passionately fighting for what he believes to be right. So if he’s making mistakes, I believe they’re honest ones and that those who see things differently shouldn’t villianize him but instead, engage in dialog over the various aspects of this issue.


  3. @Steve- Thanks for your input. When I first saw the video I thought of you and your understanding of the problem since you lived in Uganda for so long.


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