In the fall of 2006, a former student showed me a film that was the first giant shift in a trajectory of authenticity I was about to embark on. Looking back, I struggle to find a word that describes the past seven years. My world shifted so dramatically that I would not be here writing if I had not watched that film. Honestly, all authenticity in my life would have remained in a slumber and this article wouldn’t exist.
The brokenness I felt watching that film has never left me. Frame by frame the fiber of my soul was twisted, and I knew this would call for a total repositioning of my views, and the lens with which I would forever operate from.
The film? Invisible Children: The Rough Cut. The film documents the story of the longest running war in Africa. The story of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the children of Northern Uganda he has kidnapped for over 25 years. If these past two sentences are the first you have heard of Joseph Kony, the LRA , or Northern Uganda then you may be thinking: “yet another problem in Africa”, but let me tell you that this is much more than that. It was my personal “enough moment”.
I could share many issues with you. In fact, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about which one I would like to discuss for this entry, but in the end, I had to start with my “enough moment”. Human rights activist John Prendergast and actor Don Cheadle coined the term to describe that moment when you realize that you are no longer willing to take a back seat on an issue. The moment when your heart is so broken for another that you decide you have to act. Simply, enough is enough.
In the documentary, the filmmakers of Invisible Children: A Rough Cut share a conversation with a former child soldier, Jacob. He shares how he witnessed his brother being killed and how now he feels as if he has nothing. He comments that he would rather the filmmakers kill him than face the impossible future. He begins to cry, and soon the tears become uncontrollable sobbing. The former student who was sharing this film with me battled suicidal thoughts in high school, as we watched the film I was pulled to the pain I had seen in my student, and then, thousands of miles away there is this kid, who I do not know, sobbing in the same way. Let me tell you, I was instantly transported right there to that dirty floor in Uganda, next to that camera as that boy sobbed. Why was no one holding him as he cried? What the hell?? Why is this even happening??
SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!!!!
That was the moment for me. The flood gate opened and my comfort to standby was audaciously halted. Silence was no longer my calling. Bold activism was alive, I just hadn’t been listening.
I returned from that trip and showed the film to a few friends and they, too, were awakened. And before we knew it, we created a documentary film program for the school where I am a teacher. We screen films for the students and afterwards invite discussion. The group is called Eyes Wide Open because that is what has to happen…it is what WE can do…Open Eyes.
In the beginning, doubt abounded. Who will come to just learn? Will teenagers have discussion without a grade attached? Will anyone come when sporting events compete? What will we show? How will we find new films? And the big one - should we even try this because this will be a ton of work?! Well ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Let’s do this!
First event: winter-time on a random Thursday. Seven O’clock rolls around and 150 young people pile into a room to watch this same film that started it all, and half stayed when the film was finished for one of the greatest discussions I have ever seen. 150 kids! Never tell me that people are not ready to learn and take the reins, we just don’t provide the opportunity very often.
That was in 2007 and we are now in our 12th semester of events! We have covered so many incredible issues and each has kept that slumber of the bystander far from my heart. But more importantly, I have been able to be a part of one of the greatest movements in our history. The Invisible Children Organization has worked for nine years to bring this issue to light. We, and I say ‘we’ because it is amazing to be a part of the greater Invisible Children family, have built schools, installed radio towers to increase safety, helped create programs to assist children who leave the armies, passed legislation, convinced the United States to send troops to assist in the arrest and capture of Joseph Kony, attended rallies, and supported endless Invisible Children advocates in our homes.
It was a huge community of people all over this world who decided not to let that “enough moment” become victim to that other enough moment…the “I am not good enough” lie.
Just today in my classes, holding onto doubt, my students asked for one example of when average citizens and young people have changed anything. Of course, I shared this very story. Lucky for us, Invisible Children has never given up and they just released their new film entitled Move. They are out driving vans on tour once again because there are still those who have never heard the story of a boy named Jacob.
WE are all good enough, we just have to make the decision to own one single moment and I promise the shift will come for the issue we decide to engage in.
What are the global issues that seem to be pulling on your soul? Listen to that heart, it just might reveal where your talents are needed.
I challenge you to never stop learning, seek out information on the issues you know about, and ask others to share what they are passionate about.
Trust that your “enough moment” is out there, you just have to take time to listen.
One thing I have learned is that authenticity can be a great healer when we decide to live out the gifts we have been given.
Maybe today is your day…
Heidi Rickard is the Creative Director for The Authenticity Project, you can contact Heidi at TheAuthenticityProject@gmail.com
***Below are some links to the Invisible Children Films. And if you are interested in bringing an Eyes Wide Open event to your community please contact us at TheAuthenticityProject@gmail.com
Invisible Children Organization Overview:
LINKS TO FILMS:
Invisible Children: The Rough Cut Part 1 of Six: (the other parts are also on line)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qds5MQCqWnk&feature=related
KONY 2012: (Just recognized as the most viewed "viral" video of all time)
KONY 2012: Part 2 Beyond Famous:
The newest film MOVE: