Thoughts on Jason Russell & Invisible Children
You just never know what life brings you and what you bring to life.
The news today of Jason Russell is truly saddening. Jason, one of the co-founders of Invisible Children and the “Kony 2012” campaign, was detained yesterday for acting out of character in public. According to a statement earlier today by Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, on their blog:
Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.
As you can imagine, news is spreading quick online about this unfortunate event. Social media is definitely a powerful engine.
In processing the news of today, here are some initial thoughts I have:
- Regardless of what happened, we must always care for people. In this case, I’m most concerned about Jason and his family. I’m encouraged to see that he is surrounded by many who do genuinely care for him. I hope he recovers well. We need people like Jason to do the work he does for our world.
- It’s so much easier to sensationalize the pain others online than it is to suspend opinion or care. My friend Mike Foster refers to our culture at times as “vulture culture” (i.e., a culture that preys on the fallen). So true. The reality is that we don’t have the full story and we never will. Furthermore, it’s really none of our business anyway. It is a private matter no matter how celebrity-like one’s status may be. Sometimes we lose sight of people when we solely focus on “facts”. Let’s not dehumanize people through our criticisms.
- The work of Invisible Children is still important. One person, or even one moment, doesn’t make a movement. Will this be painful for Invisible Children? Absolutely. I can hear the naysayers rally around this moment. No person, organization, and/or campaign is perfect. As long as their are imperfect people, we will always lack something. Nevertheless, imperfection is not enough ground to discard the work of people who genuinely care.
I will be the first one to say that I have many moments in my past that I deeply regret and carry to this day. I’m sure I’ll have many more in the years to come. I just hope that I will continue to have people around me that care more about who I am than what I act like from time to time.
My prayers go out to Jason, his family, and Invisible Children today.
Update Saturday May 17, 2012 at 8:00pm: Here’s a video released by Invisible Children earlier today with a message from Ben Keesey:
Disclosure: Ben Keesey is a friend of mine and I have always admired the work of Invisible Children. Ben and the team at Invisible Children do important work in helping to end one of longest lasting wars in Africa and I’ve been a long time supporter of their efforts. I also recently met Jason at a local event about a month ago. Although I don’t know him too well, his actions are most definitely removed from the character of the person I met.