Several weeks after releasing and garnering over 100,000,000 views for his magnum-opus KONY 2012, director and Invisible Children founder Jason Russell has apparently lost his mind. He has been transported to a medical facility by police after allegedly running naked in the streets of San Diego while publicly masturbating and vandalizing cars.
When I first heard the news of his ‘outburst’ I was oddly relieved. Something deep inside me resonated with someone who so strongly desires to change the world, and so desperately wants to be seen and heard on behalf of the cause they are championing.
But I resonate even more with ‘losing my shit’ when I feel criticized, invalidated or misunderstood.
Because despite Mr. Russells life mission and best efforts to tell the story of Kony’s army of kidnapped child soldiers in Uganda, his viral video drew mass criticism from individuals, organizations and governments alike for over-simplifying and misrepresenting the situation. And there were also those who questioned Mr. Russell’s integrity (and that of his organization Invisible Children), making veiled and direct accusations in regard to the motives behind producing and releasing KONY 2012.
I’m sure people will be talking about this for months to come. His friends have come out to stand up for him (which I think is good). Others have urged that we not gossip but instead give him a second chance (which I think is good too).
Maybe you think Jason Russell is full of shit. Maybe you think Invisible Children is a scam. But do we really want to summarily dismiss those attempting to do great good among us because of their shortcomings?
If our brokenness disqualifies us from offering our goodness to the world, then what hope do any of us have of contributing anything at all?
Jason Russell isn’t a tabloid celebrity that makes a living entertaining others or being celebrated for a skill or talent he possesses. He appears to be a social activist that has dedicated his life to something he believes in. Whether or not his motives, ideologies or practices are effective, accurate or even honest is irrelevant for me (in regard to the heart of what I am trying to say here).
What I do know is that Jason Russell is my new hero. He is a gift to all of us. He is a reminder that we aren’t designed to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, and he gives us hope that it’s okay to radically love people without having to do it perfectly. He also reminds us that we are all fully capable of crashing and burning under the unbearable weight of our own insecurity, fear and sense of inadequacy.
As much as I want role models and leaders who have it all together, know all the right answers and can lead me safely to the ‘promised land’, what I really think we need are more Jason Russells to remind us that we are all incredibly gifted, and incredibly broken- capable of incredible highs, and unfathomable lows.
I’m not saying we need to aspire to public meltdowns featuring (alleged) masturbation, intoxication or vandalism. And I’m not saying Invisible Children is a perfect cause with an infallible execution of their proclaimed mission. I’m simply taking a stand for the full spectrum of our humanity, and for the love of God- a love that fully embraces our failures and successes alike.
Because if this guy isn’t a man after God’s own heart, I don’t know who is.
Jason, I know this time is hard for you, your immediate and extended family, your friends, and those around you at Invisible Children. This too shall pass- but do not let it until you squeeze every ounce of life and learning from it. God be with you.
And God be with us all.
What are your thoughts on Jason Russell’s meltdown? Comment below…
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