Which brings up the question that I am constantly asked in the US: “What can we do?”, where “we” tends to mean relatively privileged US citizens. In response, I have a few proposals:
The first, perhaps not surprising from a professor, is to learn. The conflict in northern Uganda and central Africa is complicated, but not impossible to understand. For several years, I have taught an undergraduate class on the conflict, and although it takes some time and effort, the students end up being well informed and able to come to their own opinions about what can be done. (I am more than happy to share the syllabus with anyone interested!)
In terms of activism, the first step is to re-think the question: Instead of asking how the US can intervene in order to solve Africa’s conflicts, we need to ask what we are already doing to cause those conflicts in the first place. How are we, as consumers, contributing to land grabbing and to the wars ravaging this region? How are we, as US citizens, allowing our government to militarise Africa in the name of the “War on Terror” and its effort to secure oil resources?
These are the questions that we who represent Kony 2012’s target audience must ask ourselves, because we are indeed responsible for the conflict in northern Uganda - responsible for helping to cause and prolong it. It is not, however, our responsibility, as Invisible Children encourages us to believe, to try to end the conflict by sending in military force. In our desire to ameliorate suffering, we must not be complicit in making it worse.