Several folks are asking my opinion about the Kony film. I am not one to critique Jason Russell’s approach to being a change agent. His passion for social justice and his care for the invisible children of Uganda resonate deeply with me, as my entire life has been re-defined by the experiences I too had in Uganda. I commend his persistence and commitment to such a worthy cause. And I applaud his ability to get the attention of 100 million viewers. That is incredible! I also understand the criticism from individuals and nonprofits who disagree with the mass marketing approach. The oversimplification of a very complex issue does belittle the daily suffering of ordinary people – all over the world -who will continue to struggle meeting basic needs, even after Kony is gone. But at least the publicity got people out of their seats and on to topics other than the US election and March Madness sports. I have no critique, other than that of folks who deprecate Russell out of their own ignorance and paralysis to latch on to a cause and do “more than care.” We can care all day long, but unless we take an action step towards something that makes the world a better place for someone other than ourselves, we are guilty of only contributing to the world’s problems.
What about Job? Yeah, who’s Job??? (It’s a long “o,” like the Biblical character). Honestly, my intent in writing Village Wisdom and creating the Portraits of Uganda exhibit was also to inspire change; a change from simply caring to engaging personally in a world of needs. Living in Job’s village in Uganda for 3 years changed my life so profoundly that 15 years later I had to write a book about it. I wanted to bring awareness about Job and people like Job (all over the world) who are financially poor, yet culturally and communally rich. I wanted to share hard-learned lessons that have re-defined my role as an individual, a wife, a mother, and a global citizen. I wanted to remind people of unsung heros and to inspire folks to get out in the world and experience life in a totally different way.
My story has not gone viral. I have sold only 800 books (1500 still sitting in my storeroom) and a huge personal financial loss to boot. Some days this fact makes me feel sick and other times it makes me cry. Just in time, one of my children or my husband will remind me of messages I have received from readers or people in the audiences I have spoken to; people who were moved to “more than care.” I will continue telling my story, telling Job’s story and helping others to tell their story. I am grateful that 800 people now know about an incredible man named Job. And that they care about the beautiful land in western Uganda where Job and his community members work hard to sustain a future for their children. And that some folks have gone beyond caring and have taken an action step to make the world a better place for someone else. I am thankful to have the opportunity to share Village Wisdom.