Joseph Kony; The Devastating Results of Acquiescence and Moral Procrastination

I know who Joseph Kony is. In fact, I’ve known about Kony for years now, and it’s all thanks to a bit of sleep deprivation, and an interest in the compound with the highest rating on the Mohs Scale of hardness, the diamond. Staying up one night, for currently inconceivable reasons, I began doing what I always do when it’s late in the evening and I’m unwilling to sleep, I searched Wikipedia for any topic that came to mind. I settled on the diamond and began reading, first for it’s chemical properties, then its social importance, its economic evolution, and, finally, its role in African geopolitics. Conflict diamonds lead me to conflict in Africa, so on and so forth, until I reached Uganda, Idi Amin, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and Joseph Kony.

At the time, I gave little thought to the man as he seemed to simply be one more evil man in a world filled with evil men and their empires. His actions seemed horrific and his participation in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and the Central African Republic seemed even more so, but, in terms of his actions, he seemed to be nothing more than a dark blot on the landscape of human morality. I suppose, when it comes down to it, I wasn’t surprised that a human like Kony existed. I ended my late night, went to sleep, and very rarely gave thought to his actions again.

Until yesterday, when I watched the Kony 2012 video, Kony rarely came to mind when I thought about Ugandan politics, and his existence wasn’t even the worst thing I could think of when it came to Africa. Apartheid, racial tensions, conflict diamonds, famine, and AIDS (just to name a few) have always been at the forefront of my mind when African suffering has been brought up, and Kony barely registered on the spectrum of terrible events that Africa (as a continent, home of human beings, and the cradle of all human life) has experienced. Certainly, in terms of world calamities, his actions barely register, and in terms of political interest, his existence barely resonated.

The truth of the matter is that Africa has suffered deeply, at the hands of its own people, and by the involvement of Western civilizations, not to mention foreign input in general. It’s difficult to state that any major good has come from the involvement of developed nations in Africa, so the desire to increase military action in Uganda, which is exactly what Invisible Children Inc. (the NGO behind the Kony 2012 movement) desires. An increase in foreign involvement, with the audacity of choosing artists, celebrities, and politicians from Canada and America no less, is how Invisible Children Inc. plans on capturing Joseph Kony. They hope that, by increasing attention to their cause, they will be able to fulfil their goals of increasing military involvement in Uganda.

I can understand their point of view, since all peace-talks with Kony have ended with no result, and I can even understand their desire for increased military action. It’s evident that the only result that could possibly be derived must come from an active standpoint, as simple mediation has been proven again and again to be unreliable. It’s been proven that reasoning with Kony yields no result, so the only option present to those behind the Kony 2012 campaign is increased military intervention to find a man who has eluded capture for years. A man who has devastated Uganda, and parts of Central Africa for over 20 years.

In fact, despite being a strong pacifist, I agree with Invisible Children entirely, though that’s only because I know that there is no other choice. This is just one more fact that must be accepted: when it comes to finding men like Kony; twisted, evil men, whose ambitions are difficult to understand, whose allegiance cannot be acquired, and whose actions only serve to fuel a hate filled purpose, action and not words, are the only option. I read about Kony and the LRA in 2006, when most thought that he was either dead or dying, and I did nothing. I read about him and his actions in 2008, when most thought that the LRA could be reasoned with, and I still did nothing. Then I watched a video yesterday, and I realized the danger of inaction, because Kony is exactly what happens when humans do not act; evil men, whose purposes are sinister, convoluted, twisted, and deeply rooted in their own unstable psychology live and continue to perform evil actions, while good people die in the name of meaningless empires and futile conflicts.

Quite frankly, it becomes a matter of procrastination; a matter of putting off what must be done to carry out other actions that we deem equally important at the time, when we really should be acting. Of course, it’s not a matter of evil triumphing because of good men failing to act, it’s a matter of evil triumphing because of good men failing to act when the time to act is before them. I always disagreed with the Burke quote; evil doesn’t triumph when good men fail to act, evil triumphs when men fail to act when their chance is right in front of them.

Some may see this article as jumping on the Kony bandwagon, and the fact is that I am jumping on the bandwagon, as should everyone else, because the time to join the bandwagon is now. The time to act is now. The time to raise awareness, and try to accomplish something is now. I hate admitting it, but an idea can, and will, be eliminated given enough time. All it takes is a person replacing an original idea with something different, something else, something that is more preoccupying, and the spark that created an original thought is extinguished. Yes, it will always be there, but no, a perfect chance to act may never appear again.

Of course, the policy makers and culture makers should know this by now. Celebrities have often been accused of acting only when everyone else is acting; they’ve often been accused of choosing to give thought to mass devastation when that devastation has become popular. That was the chief accusation of the Save Darfur Movement, and the chief accusation of the Artists for Haiti movement, and it will no doubt be one of the many accusations released once the Kony 2012 movement gains momentum (assuming that it does at all). However, it cannot be denied that the involvement of celebrities helped increase the awareness of the problem. Of course, that was an earthquake, meaning the internet helped spread information even more, but the involvement of (and let’s not mince words here) popular individuals did nothing but benefit the cause.

I’m sure that the involvement of certain individuals was strategic, and I’ve no doubt that such involvement was done to better the career and public images of these individuals, but the point is that they were able to accomplish something by jumping on the collective bandwagon. It’s wrong to attack those who find interest in popular subjects (within obvious restrictions), specifically because of the fact that something must be popular before it can accomplish anything. I don’t mean this in the celebrated sense of the term “popular,” but in the literal sense, in that something must have the attention of many before it can produce any results (Jason Russell understands this fact quite clearly). The aforementioned video was proof of this; up until yesterday, I had no idea that any movement of any kind was taking place, and while I knew about Kony’s existence, I didn’t have very much information on exactly what people intended to do with him.

I suppose that’s the most important point to draw from all of this, especially from the Kony 2012 movement: regardless of what the topic may be, the action of an individual or group of individuals is often more than enough to create resonance. Now, of all times, this is becoming a widely accepted fact; the internet is capable of producing results that would have normally taken months by regular word-of-mouth efforts in a matter of days or, quite often, in a matter of hours. That being said, the internet’s ideas are also prone to quick deterioration, which only serves to emphasize the point that timing is just as important as action.

Evil triumphs when good men fail to act, but evil triumphs faster when good men fail to act given the opportunities they have been provided. Evil triumphs when good men give into acquiescence and procrastination instead of action. Evil triumphs when good men sit down and do nothing, instead of standing up and doing something, instead of doing anything, instead of trying to accomplish something, and instead of trying to achieve anything. I do believe that Kony will be captured. I do believe that it will take time. I do believe that the Kony 2012 movement has a chance, and I do believe that the movement should be given more than just a few minutes.

All I can hope for is Kony’s life, not his death, so he can see the kingdom he has built himself, and the adoring citizens who he once dream would call his name in joy stand up, raise their voices, and call his name in pure defiance.

All I can hope is the message of his life resonating, accomplishing far more than what the movement could have possibly expected. All I can hope for is action.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, criticize, and most importantly, ACT. Always look on the BYTE side of life.


  1. Awesome write up! I just watched the Kony 2012 video today. I watched it with a hint of scepticism, since I’m always a bit weary about the distribution of charity funds within an organization. Regardless of that fact, I think it’s quite moving that this cause has gone viral. What we can appreciate is the awareness it has brought and also the uniting of the world.

  2. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing on your feed and I am hoping you write once more very soon!

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