Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A moment of pessimism

My friend Margie did this a while back, and I liked the idea.  A while ago I had my "30 things I love about life" list... now I'll do the 30 Things I dislike/hate/annoy me about my life/in general.... this is broad.

1. When people are loud when they should be quiet.  I have trouble hearing, so it's really aggravating.
2. Being sick at college.  Makes me miss my mom.
3. Goodbye's
4. Being completely shut out by a group, and being ignored.
5. Being as sentimental as I am.  Takes me a long time to get over stuff.
6. Being spread apart from a lot of my friends... distance.
7. When friendships fall apart
8. People who think they are always right.
9. Tuna
10. Zombies.. although I may have gotten over this fear a bit
11. Paint brushes that haven't been washed out
12. When girls keep going back to guys that treat them badly
13. Unrequited feelings
14. When kids deliberately don't listen to you
15. Homework
16. When people don't thank you for things you went out of your way to do.
17. bad hair days
18. How my hair falls out when I'm stressed
19. Studying for Hebrew
20. Small hands when I'm trying to play guitar
21. When my plans don't line up with God's plans
22. When people are close mined to others and are quick to judge
23. Ignorance
24. Ranch dressing (un-Texan of me, yes!)
25. Crappy internet connections
26. When people don't get excited about things
27. When guys obviously stare at your boobs
28. Rising gas prices... it's gone up like a buck since 6 months ago!
29. Sex trafficking
30. feeling alone

Monday, March 19, 2012

Kony 2012?

A friend of mine asked me to write about the Kony issue in here.  Will do!  However, if you are to read this, you must know that I am not heavily educated on this topic.  I have watched several Invisible Children videos and read many different blogs, but I have not spent hours upon hours researching this.

Let's just say that if you are reading this, chances are that you have seen this video.  Released two weeks ago, this video on Youtube alone, will probably have close to 90 million views by the time you read this.  This is an example of social networking at it's best.  If you have been on facebook, twitter, Pinterest, or Tumbler, I would be dumbfounded if you had not heard of this issue that Invisible Children has brought to the forefront of American (particularly young adult) minds.

I am not an expert in the history of this area, in fact, like most Americans, I have not been too aware of it before the past few weeks.  I do believe that Inivisible Children has good ideas and motives, but I am still unsure about the whole idea of Kony 2012.  I am going to discuss things that I do know more about with regards to this issue.  Things that are more at the based of the mission and the purpose of the organization.  I am going to talk more about social, psychological, and religious aspects that should be discussed when talking about Kony 2012.

I believe that the idea of this campaign is good.  There is evil in the world and we need to get rid of it.  However, at what cost?  Are we thinking through what our support of this campaign really means?  Are we thinking of what the end results could be?  Or are we just clicking a "share" button on facebook and buying a t-shirt, afraid to think of what killing Kony could actually mean?

Nothing in life is cut and dry.  Over the past 30 or so years, Kony has taken around 30,000 children from their homes.  He has forced them into mass murder, sex trafficking, and has taken away the innocence of their childhoods.  Now let's say that Kony was to be successfully caught and murdered, as Invisible Children and others hope to accomplish.  If this plan were to succeed, would the thousands of children be happy about the fact and go back to their own marry lives as the video seems to claim?

Let's be real for a minute or two.

People are constantly comparing this situation to that of Nazi Germany in the early part of the 20th century.  In many ways, yes it is similar, but in one HUGE way, it is not.  Adolf Hitler was in charge of Nazi Germany from 1933 until 1945, only 12 years.  That means that many of the people (particularly children in this case) that were brainwashed were not actually under his influence for that long.  Many of them came out of mentally stable, but there are numerous others who held anti-Semitic views for the rest of their lives.

In terms of Kony, he took many of these children from their homes 30 years ago.  They have grown up under his influence and spent some of their most formative years with guns in their hands being told to kidnap children and kill their families.  Just because we kill Kony will not make them go back to the innocent way they were years ago.  Some of these men are probably just as evil as Kony himself.  In fact, if we kill Kony it may just make the LRA more upset and have a direct USA target in their minds.  The last thing the US needs right now is another enemy.

There are many different circumstances that can cause a child to have mental or psychological problems.  These could be a bad divorce, rape, neglect, etc.  Now, what do you think taking a child from their home at a young age and having them murder their own friends and family will do?  I am going to bet that these children are going to have some issues.  These children, and now adults, who have grown up with the fear of Kony dripping down their backs are going to have so many mental problems: PTSD and trust issues are just a few of the possibilities.  The video above makes it seem like if Kony is killed then the thousands of children will just go back to their lives beforehand.  Will they really?

In school we would always learn about how the Nazi's used propaganda to promote their cause, and how the "foolish German people" fell for this because of their ignorance.  Excuse me a second, but does this at all resemble the Kony 2012 nonsense?  Maybe we aren't wanting a master social group, but I don't think that at the beginning most of the Nazis were worried about killing either.

In Christianity something that comes up is the idea of "taking up your cross" (Mark 8).  Now, I will not go into the historical criticism of this verse, but the way that most Christians tend to look at it is being willing to suffer for your faith in Christ, and that may even mean death.  Islam takes the commitment they have to their faith very seriously as well, even more so than most Christians.  Now where does that tie in exactly?

If you are going to be willing to stick a picture on your facebook, wear a t-shirt, or post a poster on a wall, you better know what may come.  By hoping that the American government will get involved, you are hoping that YOU will have a chance to fight again the LRA personally.  Being an activist for an organization is more than just clicking something on a computer.  Nothing in life is easy, and this includes Kony 2012.  Going over there with weapons to find one warlord may not be successful.  Sorry people!  Not to mention that it is going to be ridiculously (maybe impossible) to find him.  To me this seems like an American high horse thinking that we're going to track him down and kill him.  Don't you think that people in the area have tried to do that as well?

Another thing that really bothers me about this is all the attention that is focused specifically on Kony.  I think that the awareness that has developed out of this media frenzy is good, but I also think that it is uneducated and ignorant.  This video makes it seem like this Kony issue is the worst thing going on in the world right now and that we should focus all of our attention (and money) on it.  What it fails to address are the numerous other world leaders who have or are murdering thousands of innocents?  Where was Invisible Children in terms of Cambodia or Cuba?  What about Venezuela?  Why is Invisible Children basically disregarding the fact that thousands of girls are being sold in sex trafficking under control of the LRA?  Are people even aware that sex trafficking and child slavery are still huge issues in our own country today?

Like most college students, I watched the 30 minute Kony 2012 video was automatically inthralled.  I love social justice so it was amazing to see other peoples excitement as well!  But one thing that is big for me is to be educated before you make a decision.  This goes with any movement, religion, or major life decision.  I read a few other blogs and they pointed out a lot of the loop holes in the Invisible Children campaign to me.  Honestly, the more I have read on the topic, the more that this campaign aggravates me to no end.  Here we are as Americans thinking we have the superior way again.

To me the only real way to deal with this is through educating one's self and by just placing it in God's hands.  God is in control of all things, and although that is a foreign concept to a lot of people, it is true.  We can not do everything on our own.  Your personal posting of the Invisible Children video is not going to automatically help thousands of children escape the LRA.  God is the only one who has the power and can guide us in the right steps to take in this issue.

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead," James 2: 17

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Conviction of a Hypocrite

I work in a freshman dormitory.  It is the only freshman co-ed residence hall on campus, which is actually a lot of fun.  I enjoy getting to create relationships with both girls and guys.  And in case you didn't realize, I thrive on interaction with people.

Today this one guy came to talk to me.  He's come down several times, so it was perfectly normal, but today we started talking about religion.  It started because I was talking about Spring Break, and how I don't want to go party on the beach, get wasted every night, make out with random guys, and not remember it in the morning.  It ended up being an hour long discussion about religion, not just Christianity.  It turns out that he is an Atheist with a tendency towards eastern wisdom tradition, specifically Buddhist.

This conversation had me stimulated for hours.  I love love love religious conversation, and this was refreshing as odd as it sounds.  As an Atheist, he was not offended to listen to my religious views in the way that I thought he would be.  Atheists have kind of created for themselves a stereotype in the eyes of most Christians, just as Christians have in the eyes of non-Christians.  Maybe that is one reason why we were able to talk about religion so well;  he didn't fit my Atheist stereotype, and I don't fit the Baylor Baptist stereotype.  We were both open minded in the conversation, and learned from each other.

There were several things about this conversation that really stuck out to me.  One that I am going to discuss is what exactly it means to be a Christian in Western society.  This is something that has been on my heart lately, and I have recently talked about it with several friends.

As this guy and I talked about religion, my mind started overflowing with thoughts regarding the subject above.  I think this originally stemmed from our spring break conversation.  I could not be more excited for spring break!  I turn 21 on the first day, but that is not the most important part.  I get to spend time with friends, family, and with God.  I get to play my guitar, read and sleep.  I could not be more excited!

I don't have a problem with Christians drinking... in moderation.  I was raised in a denomination where drinking is generally acceptable, as long as you do it responsibly.  My parents would drink occasionally while I was growing up.  The idea of Christians drinking is one that is common to me.  When I came to Baylor, some of my more conservative friends started talking about how they think that Christians should not drink at all.  This was something foreign to me.  I am fine with them thinking and doing this in their lives.  I just hope they are okay with my decision to drink in moderation once I do turn 21.

But for someone to call them self a Christian but then go to some party place for spring break, seems a little off beat to me.  Is that really giving Jesus a good name?  In Western society it has become so easy to be a Christian that you can slap the title on and off like a name tag.  In Western society it has gotten so simple to let your words say one thing, and your actions another.

After I got off of work and finished up my conversation, I started walking to class.  I started to think and to pray.  I thought a lot about what I discussed in the paragraphs above.  Then the same feeling came over me that I was struck with when I was reading the book "Radical".  It was an almost overwhelming feeling of guilt.  Here I was saying and thinking these things, yet walking through the campus of my private Christian university with my Tom shoes, sorority t-shirt, Juicy jacket, and Vera Bradley backpack.  I have an education at my finger tips, which my parents are mostly paying for.  I have an apartment, am in a sorority, have plenty of friends, I am not persecuted for my faith, and the list could go on and on.

I am a hypocrite.

What does it mean to be a Christian in modern Western society?  This is something that I am trying to learn more and more of.  Better yet, what does it mean to be a Christian when the cool thing is to be a 'Christian'?  I was talking to someone, and they mentioned that they heard that one should pray for hardships, pray for trials, and pray for persecution.  In 2 Corinthians it talks about God's will being done in our hardships, and his strength being made full in our weaknesses.  What would Americans do if the religion that they said they belonged to was persecuted?  Would they stand up, or would their faith be so fragile and based on worldly things that it would just fall apart?

In America do we really know what it means to be a Christian?  Do we know what it means to stand up in hard times?  Do we know what it means to get down on our knees when the world is telling us to do anything but?  Do we know the true thirst for our Father?  What would we do if going to church meant having to risk your lives?

It's more than a prayer you say once.... it's a lifestyle.  a sacrifice.  God gave his life for us.  Now we, Americans need to learn how to give ours to him.