Well, unless you’ve been living in a hole you’ve seen/heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the millions of dollars it’s generated for the ALS Foundation. Everyone is doing it from George W. Bush to Lady Gaga. Frankly I find the whole thing very annoying. What really bothers me about this “challenge” is how much it highlights our shallow, calloused, ADD society. While wars rage on all around us and people die from Ebola, we’re obsessed with running around putting ice down each other’s back like we’re middle schoolers.
As I watched the phenomenon build this past week I shared some of my observations via social media. I asked questions like “How many of you cared about ALS a month ago and how many will care in a month from now?” and “What’s the point of the Ice? Just make the donation. If you want your friends to do stupid things play truth or dare.” Responses varied on both sides of the spectrum:
I feel like the awareness is good but most of the videos are hollow. – Lindsey
ALS broke the heart of my family recently. The disease is Brutal. Glad it’s getting the attention – Tim
So for those who have challenged my sincerity toward the situation, please don’t misunderstand my reasoning. My point isn’t that this is a bad charity. It’s quite the opposite. My point is, if you’re passionately defending the gimmick that is the ice bucket challenge now, how passionate were you a week or two weeks ago about ALS? How much had you donated to the ALS foundation so far this year or even in your lifetime?
My wife is a physical therapist who works with children who suffer from all sorts of disease; ALS, Cystic Fibrosis, Fibromyalgia, MS, or a host of other diseases that affect the muscles, skeletal system, or mental capacity in one form or another. Our family gives year round to helping her non-profit clinic raise awareness and money to stay open so that they can provide treatment to help make life easier for those who suffer. There’s nothing more humbling than standing at a booth selling rubber ducks to raise money next to an 8 year old girl who has never walked and may never walk independently. Insurance alone doesn’t cover enough to keep my wife’s organization in business and they rely on donations as much as any other non-profit. Where’s their Ice Bucket? And why do they have to do it?
Why are gimmicks needed to get people’s attention? It’s as if compassion must come with a condition of reward. It’s like telling your children if they eat all their vegetables they can have dessert. Make a donation and get a t-shirt. Sure, you want to show the people who make a donation that you appreciate them, but isn’t the best reward in doing something responsible and showing results with what you’ve raised funds for as well?
Then where does this stop. Am I going to see my pastor get up in December and pour a bucket of ice on himself and challenge me to tithe more? I’ve already seen articles about charities trying to find the next “challenge” to replicate the effect. There are hundreds of charities begging every day for another dollar to help one more life put in their care. Is ALS more worthy than March of Dimes, St. Jude’s, The Red Cross, or AIDS research?
I wondered what Bill Gate’s thought as he dumped his water and made his donation. He’s been fighting Malaria for decades and it seems like no one cares or notices. I’ve tried for years to bring attention to childhood poverty through World Vision and find myself banging my head against the wall. 5,600 people are diagnosed every year with ALS while 20,000 children die EVERY DAY from poverty. What would your response be if I poured a bucket of ice on my head and challenged you to adopt a World Vision child?
No this isn’t about the ALS foundation or how much they deserve the money for research (which they do). This is about you and me and everyone else who under normal circumstances wouldn’t have cared about ALS and wind up ignoring all other pleas for help on a regular basis. We wanted the attention and thrived on the peer pressure as we claimed our 15 seconds of fame and attention from all of our friends and family by posting a video of ourselves online. I wonder how much money ALS would have raised if it was merely a “donate and post to your FB page”. How many of us would have read the research and cared about how this brutal this horrible disease attacks people. I’m guessing it would have been ignored. And that’s the tragedy of the situation.