Had Peyton Manning received his $28,000,000 roster bonus on Thursday, he could have purchased 933,333 Kony2012 Action Kits. That’s 933,333 Kony2012 t-shirts. That’s 933,333 Kony2012 bracelets, enough bracelets to adorn 116,666 octopuses with Kony2012 bracelets. That’s 933,333 Kony2012 action guides, 1,866,666 Kony2012 stickers, 933,333 Kony2012 buttons, 933,333 Kony2012 posters. If only.
On Wednesday, Peyton Manning was released by The Indianapolis Colts after fourteen years with the franchise. He did not receive his $28,000,000 roster bonus. If he had, he could not have purchased a single Kony2012 Action Kit. The Invisible Children Online Store is sold out of Kony2012 Action Kits.
I, like Peyton Manning, like Joseph Kony, am impacted by the events of the past week, if less so. I stand no chance of playing quarterback in the NFL in the upcoming season. Millions of people around the world have not mobilized to fast-track my capture, imprisonment, potential execution. My concerns do not extend far past the completion of this blog post. But that’s still something, as throwing a touchdown is something, as abducting children from their homes in the dead of night and leading them to senseless death is something. How these three stories-Peyton Manning’s, Joseph Kony’s, the layman’s-interrelate, differ, and rank hierarchically in the grand scheme of mattering, that may be the week’s actual story.
Seven years ago, Peyton Manning won his second MVP award. Concurrently, Joseph Kony had over fifty underage girls operating as sex slaves on his compound, and I was seventeen, playing six hours of Animal Crossing a day. As a presence beyond a physical occupancy of space, Peyton Manning constituted the world’s only knowledge of these three profoundly different but nonetheless extant events. What mattered on a cultural level was Peyton Manning and Peyton Manning only, and, in the seven years since, the culture of information has changed to proportion that totality, to provide windows where there were once walls, even if the windows differ in size. In five days’ time, millions of people were made aware of the actions of Joseph Kony. In twenty-four hours’ time, approximately 100-150 people will know how I “feel” about them. The conversation has been divvied. Does it remain disproportional? It does. Has its quality been made better for it? It has.
Honest-time: Most of my intellectual energy is going to be expelled on contemplating the Peyton Manning situation, as it would have been seven years ago, when this blog was but a blog twinkle in my eye. Innate in me lies the propensity to deny the omnipresent suffering of the world and clog its stead with the inanities of a life removed utterly from need and concern. This may be wrong, but doesn’t the fate of the AFC East lie in the balance? Doesn’t the cuteness of the videographer’s son in Kony2012 skew toward cloying? Were The Colts just in their actions re Manning after more than a decade of dutiful, transcendent (if mostly in the regular season) service? Why has less than half of the money raised by Invisible Children gone to aid on the ground in Uganda? Who is to say what I spend my time contemplating, whether that’s right or wrong?
I am. I’m supposed to do that. So I will say, regardless of the methodology, regardless of the implementation of Mumford & Sons, regardless of how palatable and calculated and monotonous Mumford & Sons are, regardless of Mumford & Sons’s commercialized bastardization of folk music, regardless of the cute son, regardless of the manipulation of industrialized society’s repressed guilt, this Kony2012 business is more than white people trying to feel good about themselves, or white people trying to make other white people feel bad about themselves. It’s about people being able to say things where they beforehand could not. The conception and execution may not come from a place of true altruism, but they seem to be attempting to get there. Peyton Manning does not have his $28,000,000, yet, but some high school in Corpus Christi Texas has $400 it didn’t before, money its students raised to attempt to help other people, to help children a world away in Uganda, and even if the money is lost, squandered, whatever, it is still an acknowledgement of those children’s existence, a testament to their mattering, a something where there would otherwise be nothing.
Manning to Miami.