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ACTION ALERT

Recently, along with many other people, I watched the Kony 2012 video. This video is part of a long term effort to stop the violence and horrible crimes of the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. For more than 20 years Kony has led the Lord’s Resistance Army in violence that has included the abduction of children for use as child soldiers and sex slaves.

I am writing in order to reflect on this video, the advocacy it is part of, the solution that it suggests, and what might be a Brethren response to all of this. I first encountered this group’s original documentary and advocacy of the "Invisible Children" when they visited my college a number of years ago. In retrospect I believe that this event was one part of the journey that shaped my interest in working for peace. The publicity and grassroots advocacy that Kony 2012 represents seem to show that my experience was shared by many others.

Rather than engage in only praise for this effort or only criticism I would like to suggest a few points that should be considered when thinking about Kony 2012. To start, this work appears to be done with a true concern for the suffering of others. That such violence continues in our world should, as followers of Jesus, compel us to compassion and action. Secondly, this campaign has, according to the video, worked to set up early warning radio networks, built schools, used social media such as Facebook, and built a community of people around the world who are acting to stop suffering. Using several methods which work toward the same goal is not only more effective but recognizes that a violent conflict and the surrounding community are multi-faceted; there are many pieces. While some people criticized the video for oversimplifying the conflict, the producers have stated that the video is meant to start conversations rather than be the complete conversation.

Kony 2012 celebrates that the US government has sent members of the US military to advise local troops in the effort to arrest Kony. While the Church of the Brethren affirms international cooperation for justice and peace it does not support the use of violence. It does, however, with some hesitation, support the use of nonviolent police force in some circumstances. In the Church of the Brethren 1996 Annual Conference Statement "Nonviolence and Humanitarian Intervention" it considers the role of military and international police in “humanitarian intervention.” It states,

"Out of love toward victims of poverty, oppression, and violence, we are called to earlier, more profound, and more lasting efforts to address the conditions that gives rise to violence. Our church should press for more effective preventive diplomacy to defuse rising tensions before they erupt into war, more serious economic development to avert desperate conditions, and more concerted peacebuilding19 to weave new strong social fabrics that cross boundaries of race, class, religion, ethnicity, and nationality. We have abundant though underused evidence that where socio-economic cooperation occurs, former adversaries study war no more.20 We believe our church, nation, and the UN, should focus on such measures to achieve equity and justice. As equity and justice increase, new social stability and deepening commitment to community can reduce the occasions for military interventions."

"The Church of the Brethren has a distinctive heritage to bring to bear in shaping the way international peacemaking will evolve. In bringing the Good News to the poor and afflicted through serving their needs and unequivocally opposing all forms of military combat, we demonstrate that the world's priorities still reflect too much faith in military power to solve problems and too little faith in the power of love to transform social, political, economic, and environmental threats into opportunities for cooperation and human community. Our witness to peace gains spiritual power and political strength from a morally consistent commitment to do all in our power to make peace through peaceful means."

As we read and hear about what is happening in the world I pray that we act with wisdom, in line with biblical teaching and our Annual Conference statements. The Church of the Brethren supports and partners with a number of organizations throughout Africa and the world which are doing good work to alleviate suffering, poverty, and violence. If you wish to learn more about the work of other organizations such as "Invisible Children," which produced Kony 2012, you can visit charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org.

In God's peace,
Nathan Hosler
Advocacy Officer and Ecumencial Peace Coordinator
Church of the Brethren and National Council of Churches

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For more information about the witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nate Hosler, Advocacy Officer for the Church of the Brethren:

Nate Hosler
C/O National Council of Churches
110 Maryland Ave. NE
Suite 108
Washington, DC 20002
nhosler@brethren.org
202-481-6943

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Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission and Service and its witness and advocacy office in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the National Council of Churches. Contact advocacy officer Nate Hosler at nhosler@brethren.org. Contact Global Mission and Service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 or mission@brethren.org.

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