By Anna Ste. Marie, Class of 2012
There’s no denying it: the Kony 2012 movement has caught the attention of a lot of cynics. Some are claiming that movement really has no strength since “liking” a video on Facebook cannot save the lives of the enslaved children in Uganda. Others are claiming that the issue is irrelevant since the Lord’s Resistance Army isn’t really active in Uganda anymore. However, their movement is strong in its commitment to a non-violent solution, but it’s the path to this non-violent solution that is still a little vague. Perhaps Invisible Children just needs to re-vamp their tactic in order to strengthen their movement. Perhaps they should implement a longstanding and deep-rooted tactic that has proven to be effective in the past. By analyzing some past techniques, a plan that could strengthen the Kony 2012 movement can be clearly seen.
There’s no denying it: Mahatma Gandhi fought for what he believed in. This fight is what he is illustrious for; not necessarily for what he was fighting against, but how he fought, which has grown into quite the phenomenon used throughout the past two centuries.
In the early 20th century, Gandhi encouraged his fellow Indians to stop buying British goods to bring growth to the local economy at the same time as undermining the British economy. Attacking the British government physically, he found, would only trigger a negative reaction. He had to develop a new sort of tactic. Some would consider it reverse-psychology, but he called it passive resistance. By using this type of opposition, it generated a negative response from the British, which made more Indians want to join his movement.
Gandhi took his movement to levels that some would consider borderline insane. He was imprisoned on several occasions, and during his sentences, he would go on hunger strikes. To fight the British salt monopoly, he marched to the ocean to gather sea salt. Justice is what he wanted, and even though he knew that he would not see it in his lifetime, he started a movement that changed the course of history.
Though Gandhi’s battle stirred a revolution in India, it did not end there. His passive resistance tactic spread worldwide. One of the most famous modern passive resistance fights was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s war against segregation and fight for civil rights. The King Center describes his technique by saying, “While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals.”
Like Gandhi, King fought to extreme levels for what he believed in. He too used his imprisonment as a growing point for his movement. With the same motives as Gandhi’s hunger strikes, he wrote “Letters From a Birmingham Jail,” which described to fellow Clergymen his drive to fight for civil rights. Some of the most crucial advancements for the equality of blacks were made in the years that Dr. King used the Gandhi-inspired passive resistance tactic.
However, Dr. King altered the movement slightly to fit the times in which he was fighting for Civil Rights. He took this vague movement that Gandhi had established and broke it down into four specific, easy-to-follow steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action.
From these two past examples, it is apparent that this tactic is potent and effective, so why does the modern age seem to be the age of endless war? Why does humanity have the unending urge to fight fire with fire? Is it possible that the passive resistance established by Gandhi could work even today? Could it, say, solve some of today’s biggest global issues?
Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which is responsible for the kidnapping of over 30,000 children, has committed one of the biggest crimes against humanity, and even he could be stopped if the passive resistance tactic was used on him.
First of all, to follow Dr. King’s steps, a single person would have to carefully study and see the injustice caused by Kony and want to change it. This person would have to get together an army, so to say, of people fighting for peace and justice. Education would be vital to this step. This army would have to be completely informed of the complete history of this very complex subject. They would have to break down this conflict and look at it from every different perspective to make sure that bring Joseph Kony to justice is in everyone’s best interest.
If they are able to do that, they will then move onto the second step: negotiation. Since in this case, the group that needs to be negotiated with is a belligerent army, this could be a dangerous and possibly fatal step in the justice process. Also, negotiations directly with Kony will be impossible due to the fact that he is hiding somewhere deep in the jungles of northern Africa. However, if a group presents themselves on a small scale as very peaceful, Kony, or other high power leaders of the LRA may be open to negotiation. Of course, a solid plan, and possibly even several alternative plans, will have to be made before confronting the army.
Now onto the third of Dr. King’s steps: self-purification. This step is necessary because this passive resistance process is not a speedy process. In fact, it could be years before even the first two steps are completed. This step is a time of revitalization. It is a time for the revolutionaries to stop and look back at the original purpose of their movement. Sometimes, by this point, they will have somewhat lost focus so the third step is a time where they can forget about any past struggles, take some time to rejuvenate their movement, and re-start the movement just as strong as it was in the beginning.
The final step in Dr. King’s Gandhi-inspired process is direct action. Usually the phrase “direct action” has a violent undertone, but Dr. King meant the exact opposite. To him, direct action was in the form of, for example, a boycott against public transportation. In the case of the movement against Joseph Kony, direct action could be shutting down the sales of firearms and ammunition in certain African countries in order to stop empowering and assisting the LRA.
Fortunately, Invisible Children, the organization leading the Kony 2012 movement, has the motives for a passive resistance movement. Though they are not necessarily following the specific steps established by King, they are keeping Gandhi’s original teaching in mind when dealing with the LRA. For example, they are working to send American soldiers to Uganda, not to wage war, but to help track Kony in the jungle. Their movement is a little weak, though. While they do have a very strongly planned route of action, there are many skeptics. Perhaps if Invisible Children were to adapt to Dr. King’s plan, they would have a stronger design, as well as a larger support base.
Gandhi, the originator of the passive resistance movement, said, “I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.” This shows not only his full commitment to his movement, but also his full faith in its effectiveness. His tactic proved to be strong as it gained a lot of crucial progress for the Civil Rights movement and it could still be effective today if only humanity had faith in its ability to fight against Kony.