“The Millennial generation was born after the 1980s, who came of age in the Millennium. They embrace technology and tend to be confident and expressive.” –CNN London
“Gen. Y has a very inflated sense of self. They’re self-absorbed. They want it all, they want it all now.” –FOX Business
“This generation is too busy trying to get noticed on YouTube or Facebook or Twitter to actually accomplish anything of real lasting value.” –FOX News
“Millennials, you are entitled and lazy and just not fit to live.” –Scott Hess, TED Talk
After hearing this, I was quite offended; however, I do understand where they are coming from. With these Youtube personalities, such as Jenna Marbles and Ryan Higa who get millions of views on their videos and are famous by acting stupid in front of a camera, I can see why the generation before us thinks we are capable of nothing. This is embarrassing.
The quotes above are from the beginning of the response film, MOVE, to the KONY 2012 video that went viral in March of 2012. The KONY 2012 film is a half an hour YouTube video about the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader, Joseph Kony created by Invisible Children to promote the “Stop Kony” movement, and make Joseph Kony famous.
There was a bit of backlash with the video after Invisible Children’s system crashed because of the unexpected traffic to their website leading many to believe the movement was a scam. The MOVE film explained what happened and explains the “story of a group of Millennials from around the world trying to do something big to play our part in ending a war.”
I started becoming fully involved with Invisible Children after meeting a former roadie who dedicated a large portion of her life to stopping this war. I was amazed by her passion and after hearing her story and the stories of those she has met, I could no longer just wear the t-shirt to show my support, I needed to become an active member in stopping this war.
The African Union, United States, United Nations, and European Nations have all made promises to stop the LRA and protect civilians, because only the leaders of the world can put pressure on Kony to surrender or arrest him. KONY 2012 was an experiment of what our generation is capable of. The next step in the experiment was to get the top ten world leaders who can activate the arrest of Joseph Kony to attend a Global Summit in Washington D.C. on November 17th. The way to get these leaders to D.C. was to get as many people there as possible to show the world we care. The hope was that thousands of people would be there for the global summit and after, they would march to the White House and rally on the 10 city blocks that surround it to show that our generation wants peace and justice for Joseph Kony.
On November 17, 2012, that is what happened. I joined thousands of Millenials who decided to fight against the definition given to us to show we can achieve something greater than anyone expects. Before I go any further, I need you to realize so much more happened then what I am about to share. My life has been changed after attending this event. The amount of inspiration I received from the speakers, fellow participants, and the day itself is difficult to express. These people want to help us take back the definition of the lazy, self-absorbed generation that has been given to us. I made the first move by getting to Washington D.C. to show my support for this movement, but my fight for human rights will continue and honestly, never stop, because of the hope and assurance I am not alone in this fight.
That being said, the event started with the Global Summit. Sean Stephenson, the “three-foot giant,” was the first speaker introduced to us by the heads of Invisible Children.
“While most teenagers are sitting at home on the couch playing xbox or eating junk food,” Stephenson said. “you can say, “I’m here, and I’m like BAM! Changing the world.”
Next was the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, the United States representative, spoke. “I can confidently say we are all moving together in the right direction” Carson assured.
The Regional Leader Panel included representatives from the Central African Republic, Uganda, South Sudan, African Union, and empty podiums for DR Congo and Sudan. Each spoke and answered questions about their efforts to stop Joseph Kony. It was addressed the podiums were there because despite our efforts, those countries decided not to show up. An issue that came about was that Sudan may be helping the LRA, and although the representative of the African Union could not tell us much, he said contact has been made and an agreement to discuss actions was in place.
John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, spoke about being a bystander verses and “upstander.” Sophia Bush, actress and activist, tweeted in response, “Be an UPSTANDER. Stand for those who cannot. Use your voice for the voiceless. And MOVE.”
Next was the panel with the International Criminal Court, European Nation, and United Nations. They expressed how impressed they were by the response from our generation with this war. They all explained their next actions and answered questions of what will happen once Joseph Kony is arrested. They assured us, once Kony is arrested, that will not be the end of their help. They are in it until there is peace.
After the Global Summit, it was time to MOVE. With everyone wearing his or her red KONY 2012 t-shirts and red bandana’s that read “Our Liberty Is Bound Together,” we walked to the White House and then around ending at the Washington Monument. That experience was incredibly empowering seeing the sea of red created by the thousands of people in attendance.
At the Washington Monument, Ben Keesey, the CEO of Invisible Children, spoke and introduced Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission. Haugen’s speech left me with chills and almost in tears to keep fighting for justice.
“Finish the job.” Haugen concluded, “Any fight worth fighting takes a long time.”
After a few more speakers and filming for an upcoming film on this movement, there was just enough time to grab food and get back to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the Global Dance Party. This dance party had incredible DJs, amazing and talented dancers, and lots of glow sticks. The energy was high until the end and created a sense of unity among the participants.
As the night came to a close, I said goodbye to my many new friends and headed back to my hostel. Laying in the bed, I replayed the day over and over feeling incredibly blessed to have had that opportunity to be in attendance of an amazing movement. There is so much more I could say about the day, the speakers, the people I met, but I will leave you with the ending narrative of the MOVE film.
“Our great-grandparents saw women fight for equality. Our grandparents stopped Adolf Hitler from taking over the world. Our parents fought for civil rights to declare us equal. We have been told our generation will accomplish nothing of value, but the words of others will not define us; only our actions will. We are fighting for a world where genocide and crimes against humanity cannot happen. The experiment is not over; we all have to make a decision. Either we lead or we follow but eventually everyone will have to MOVE.”