Nightfall in Northern Uganda brings more than darkness: fleeing brutal abduction from the elusive Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), literally thousands of impovershed children cram themselves into basements, alleys, and hallways of Ugandan towns. Each night these children flee the LRA, African rebels who routinely beat and brainwash scores of little kids as "recruitment" into their war against the African government. The children who are murdered to make "examples of what happens if we try to run away" are considered the lucky ones. The unlucky ones are trained and brutally forced to be soldiers in the rebel army with one objective: kill or be killed.
Invisible Children is a film documentary by three North American twentysomethings who set out for "an adventure" and unwittingly find their way into the cramped hallways and crowded auditoriums of Ugandan towns, where the children hide. Today I previewed Invisible Children, which will be shown at the college/young professionals gathering I attend. The footage was both touching and disturbing and well beyond the typical African scenes of poverty and disshevelment; 8-year olds, so proficient in killing, it is all they know ("I get a headache if I don't see blood."); survivors of the raging civil war, their young bodies mutilated and brutalized; young escapees too desensitized to even cry for the loss of life and innocence ("Here, even fear is an understatement."); a boy, in a rare unguarded moment, sobbing for the loss of his best friend; children praying for their own deaths, so they can see their dead friends and family again.
I watched all that, then went to an air-conditioned restaurant where a generous friend paid $8.79 plus tip so I could eat a turkey burger with cheese, avacado and bacon. Afterwards, I went back to my windowed 2nd story office, stared at my $2000 dual-monitor computer, and drank a tall glass of cold water from a fountain down the hall. I drove home on my three-dollars-and-fifty-cents tank of gas in one of the two cars I own. I ate Thai leftovers for dinner with my wife. I got annoyed that I could not find the remote control with which to change the channel on my 31" television while sitting eight feet away on my plush couch (I suspect my remote is buried somewhere in the mass of toys my one-year-old had strewn about my living room as he played today.) I hugged my son goodnight and kissed his forehead as I lowered his sleepy head down in his crib. I told him I loved him and thanked Jesus that the Lord's Resistance Army would not, in all likelihood, steal him from me this night.
In all the comforts that surround me, I have been most uncomfortable this day.