Time to rise

a Rocklin-based writer, artist and teacher who lives with her husband, their daughter and an anxiety disorder

A few weeks ago, I shared the viral Kony 2012 video on my website and wrote to government officials to call for action in the matter of “invisible children,” whether in Sacramento or halfway around the globe. I’d seen a shorter film about Uganda’s boy soldiers before—in church, I think—but it hadn’t registered the same way. Apathy? A sense that the problem was too big or too far away?

And then, an underwear-clad man was spotted in San Diego, pounding the sidewalk, screaming incoherently. That man was Kony 2012’s creator and co-founder of Invisible Children Inc., Jason Russell.

His situation is likely far more complex than is yet known. I’d bet a nickel that he’s suffering from a mental illness, but let’s not be quick to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Shakespeare told us, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” Sometimes a good idea, one that seeks to illuminate or solve a problem in a new and different way, is a little mad in the beginning.

Oversimplified or not, Russell’s method got people’s attention, including mine. It got people thinking, “Maybe together we can do something about this,” and some of use took action.

So I’ll say a little prayer for Russell, because, in keeping with the Lenten season, he’ll likely wind up crucified at the altar of fickle public opinion. No, I’m not comparing him to Jesus. I’m saying this: Our culture can’t abide the complexity of humanness and our flawed attempts to make the world a little bit kinder. We want heroes or villains. It’s simpler that way.

It’s also our excuse to do nothing.

Flawed or not, Russell gave it a shot. Rather than judge him, we’d do well to look at ourselves. What manner of “shot” are we taking, in the world and in our own backyards? Let’s not use one man’s difficulties as an excuse to lay back on our couches, click on Two and a Half Men and say to ourselves, “Another nut. I told you the problem was too big. Why bother?”

In the Christian tradition, Lent is a time to contemplate and, these days, there is much to meditate on. But after Lent, there is rising; there is movement. Rather than point out the specks in others’ attempts to rise, may we discard our own logs. Put down our remotes. May we ascend from our couches.