The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It's a sensation that's sweeping the nation. It was created to raise awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). And people are loving it or ... hating it is a strong word ... let's go with the old school "dissing."
The premise is you film a video of yourself being doused in ice water, and then you "nominate" or challenge other people to do it. If you don't want to, then you are supposed to give at least $10 to an ALS charity¹.
The cause has raised two things: 1. a lot of money and 2. some doubt as to its effectiveness. Honestly, I didn't think a whole lot about it one way or another at first; the videos were entertaining and people seemed to be enjoying the viral nature of the whole thing.
But I read an article on The Atlantic's Facebook page that suggested that these sorts of campaigns hurt the charity scene as a whole ... I was interested in the assertion, but not convinced about it one way or another. I posted it as kind of a devil's advocate thing. (Although I just heard someone say recently: "The devil doesn't need an advocate.")
There was also a meme thrown out mocking the whole thing². I cavalierly posted it because I thought it was a wry take on the challenge, and got some negative feedback. I have spent some time thinking about it all, and want to apologize. If I've learned nothing else in the last 12 years, I've learned to admit when I'm wrong.
I believe that negativity derives from fear. It may masquerade in different forms, but fear is what drives greed, lust, hate, and lies (just to run down a few shitty things). I think part of the backlash is that people probably have their own causes that they are fearful will not get attention or money because of this very visible challenge. This might be a fear that people are completely unaware of, by the way. Somewhere there might be a nagging question: "My dad has cancer, what about him? My mom has MS, what about her? My kid has diabetes, what about them?"
But after hearing a little voice in my heart, I know that giving into that fear is wrong. There is ample abundance. We don't have to run out of anything. I was wrong to insinuate that this was a bad thing on any level. This seems to be doing nothing but good, and it's not my intention to shit on good things, although I fail miserably a lot.
Instead, I hope every cause comes up with a cool, funny, interesting way³ to raise money. Let's learn from this instead of trying to knock it down. I know that I sometimes default to pessimist, and I'd like to be an optimist more often.
On my sidebar, there is a widget to my own campaign to help me fund a car for traveling to see my dad, who does in fact, have cancer. The generosity of people has been amazing and overwhelming. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that being generous with one's time, money, and resources does nothing but multiply.
So. I wish the ALS foundation all the best. I was wrong to contribute to the negativity and naysaying. If I want to help out my own cause/s, I need to come up with something fun to raise money for mental health awareness. I'll take suggestions.
¹ I learned from Erin Shea's video that a great organization to donate to is the MDA (muscular dystrophy association), because they are also doing lots of research to help cure ALS.
² I also want to apologize for using the meme (seemingly called Skeptical Black Kid). While the meme is ostensibly making fun of people in the Western world and the abundance, conveniences, and waste we participate in, it seems wrong to use the picture for any end.
³ Scott Hess had one of the best videos I've seen.
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