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Marlise Karlin Headshot

KONY 2012: Catalyst for Change, Peace or Fame?

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Being a catalyst for change is not easy, especially in a media-driven world where the press often instigates controversy solely to induce greater viewership. Jason Russell and Ben Keesey, cofounders of the Invisible Children Foundation, seem to have become victims of this and the unruly machinery in society where people love to bash whatever they don't agree with or understand.

When I first heard Jason and Ben speaking on CNN, the impression I got was of two nice guys who were trying to make a difference in the lives of others. Could they have made some mistakes along the way? Of course. There is no perfect map to follow when you are responding to the passion in your heart, which is exactly what I heard when Jason promised a traumatized Ugandan boy he would do whatever he could to help him feel safe from the horrors of the Lord's Resistance Army.

Kony 2012 struck a chord in many hearts; more than 84 million people have viewed Jason's film. One morning I awoke to an inbox filled with emails encouraging me to watch, and by that evening, it was on every television station, with newscasters pointing accusing fingers: "What was your intention?" "How much money have you taken in and how is it spent?" "Why should the U.S. government employ military advisors?" "Are you trying to get famous?"

Evidently there were people intent on seeing this happen, waiting with cameras outside Jason's home, hoping to capture any inopportune moment that could slander his character. Now it's all over the news -- Jason has had a breakdown, and there are photos on the internet where he is clearly in distress. It makes me so sad. And when malicious online bullying joins the frenzy, it tends to take focus away from the story that is really worth reporting.

What transpired since this video was released set a new paradigm for what is possible now, unlike any other time in history. Millions of people around the world became aware of and engaged in a common cause -- and they were cognizant that being part of a large group intent on the same vision is what would produce an effective result.

What is unique about this is how quickly a large segment of the world community was in communication with each other, and how unified many felt about the cause. This time, it was about bringing a war criminal to justice. Next time it could be about living with freedom every day, that seemingly impossible dream so many people have -- to live in a world at peace.

Awareness creates change...

Regardless of differing points of view of how it was accomplished, what we witnessed is extraordinary. An M-field was created, which happens when a prevailing belief system is broken, when what has been thought to be impossible becomes reality and is then accepted as the norm. (No one believed the 4-minute mile was possible until it was, etc.) It's now in the consciousness of humanity that millions of people can come together, rapidly if need be, and define change around the world. That is the beginning of true power.

And it won't happen just because someone is famous. Even Justin Bieber never got that many views so quickly. It happens when you have purity of heart and people feel it and are moved to respond in like manner by the inherent goodness within them. Thank you Jason, Ben and everyone. While the intended accomplishment is yet to be seen, what has occurred has set the stage for an extraordinary future. Change isn't easy, but it can be so worthwhile.