I got an email this morning from a group of concerned students that had come across something interesting on Facebook. After watching the 30 minute video detailing the atrocities of a Ugandan rebel named Kony, a group of 7th graders were inspired to setup an email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and organize around this inspirational cause.
Here was their email to me, but please read all the way down as there is more to this tale.
Dear Mr. Zurfluh,
A couple of days ago there was a video spread around Facebook on the topic of Joseph Koney, we understand that this does not concern us but I think to show how much this school is internationally available and how it can help poor children in need like the ones in Uganda, Africa.
To find out more about this you can visit this website http://vimeo.com/invisible/kony2012
You will find out about everything in this 30 minute video which is worth watching. We have organized some ideas about the way to spread the word, but before we can take any serious action we need your permission to continue.
This is a great opportunity to show everyone that we care about people as far as Africa, we can easily raise money and donate it to this foundation.
Please take this into consideration.
[7th Grade Students]
WOW! This is wonderful on so many levels. Kids inspired by media and grouping together around a cause that is clearly immediate and urgent to protect children that are being tortured and kidnapped!
HOLD ON! Let’s pause a moment! These kids did a great job, but here’s where adults and educators need to step in, because a little digging found that the video they viewed told only a partial truth, as viral content often does.
So, here was my response and you can help me with molding their energies a bit as we dig further. I don’t want to dispel their enthusiasm entirely. But, instead, let’s see if we can capture it, inspire it, and move it in another direction.
Thanks for writing to me in regards to this video via your new email address. This video was also circulated in a variety of other news and web feeds in recent days.
I’m sorry to inform you that there is some controversy emerging regarding the maker of this video and whether the video is an accurate portrayal of the current situation in Uganda. I value that the video has gone viral on Facebook and through other social media, but there is an important need to study this further before considering any action – part of what we teach here at AAS, as I’m sure you know.
While it is clear that Kony is a bad person by all reported accounts, it is unclear if he is still in Uganda and whether he is a threat to children any longer. Also, at least two articles point to the government of Uganda also participating in the kidnapping of children for military service – as is the case in a few countries around the world today (suggest you research this). The group responsible for the video also seem to have some controversy around them with regards to their finances and involvement with other military forces.
I would suggest that a carefully researched approach to this issue might still lead you to some other appropriate social action. Maybe your own video response? I’m sure we have many teachers and staff who would be willing to help.
To that end, please read some of the following, do your own searching and then come and chat if you want to discuss further. I’m always open to your visits!
Looking forward to discussing with you more.