We live in a new age. In days past we knew who the outlaws were by looking at the wanted posters in the post office. A gritty lawman with a big iron on his hip would bring the villain to justice at high noon with a lightning-fast hand. Apparently today we can stop evil with the click of a mouse.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a digital rock for the past week, you know about the Kony 2012 campaign. It is a clever attempt to raise public awareness about an international war criminal through social media and bring him to justice. Judging from the number of friends who posted the video on their walls I would say that they achieved their goal of raising awareness. I am bit more skeptical of the second part of their campaign.
As best as I can tell, the campaign’s plan goes like this: Use a well crafted video and social media to spread the word about an evil warlord in Uganda that is forcing children to be soldiers. Encourage those who watch the video to spread the word and contact policy makers about stopping this evil warlord. Then policy makers will send materiel and military support to the good soldiers trying to stop the evil warlord. The good soldiers, now better supported and equipped, will bring justice down on the head of the targeted warlord. The video even shows how the dominos will fall after you click the mouse. Brilliant!
Except that awareness and action are not the same thing. Knowing does not always translate into doing.
During the first Gulf War a journalist asked an A-10 driver a probing question that went something like this, “Doesn’t it bother your conscience when you drop your bombs or fire your missiles and know that you are killing people?”
He shrugged and answered, “You don’t need a conscience, just coordinates.” (Coordinates are the numerical equivalent of a specific target's location.)
He understood that armed conflict requires a certain measure of cold, calculated application of deadly force in order to survive, and win. Dealing with an “evil warlord” requires the same measure of detached thinking. If you clicked in favor of the Kony 2012 campaign, would you also be willing to pull the trigger if you had him in your sights? Is it a cause you would be willing to risk your own life to support?
I applaud anyone that raises our awareness of injustice in the world. We tolerate way too much of it. But ultimately catching Kony (or other evil warlords) and bringing him to justice requires someone equipped and trained with deadly ordinance, the clear conscience to employ it, and coordinates.