It seems like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon is on the wain, so I feel better aboutposting my thoughts on it now. I expect that this post is going to piss-off a bunch of my friends and family members who participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Maybe they are right to pissed at me. Maybe I just resent the success of this campaign for selfish reasons. Maybe I am a grouch.
But I’m going to present my thoughts here, briefly, regardless. Because this is my blog.
For starters, I’d like to congratulate the ALS research organizations benefitting from this campaign. I’m not sure which ones (is there more than one?) because the message has been muddled by the fickle nature of the internet. However, any and all legitimate organizations combatting this terrible disease are to be congratulated. I’ve seen the statistics and the record number of donations in support of research for a cure/treatment for ALS is absolutely, positively wonderful.
I know people who’ve been affected by this disease, and it is terrible.
Now that I’ve established myself as someone who isn’t a monster – hell-bent on ruining all charitable endeavors that aren’t my own – please allow me to point out my grievances with those participating in this campaign as if they were Joan of Arc or the Allied Forces, saving the world one bucket of ice at a time.
You are clueless.
Don’t for one second think that this gets you off the hook. The 20 minutes you spent trying to out-do your friend’s video… or the $20 you donated (even the $100 you donated) isn’t enough. It just isn’t. You can do more. You need to do more, and you shouldn’t expect anyone to congratulate you for it.
Ironically, the most charitable, responsible, selfless people I know are the ones abstaining from this campaign.
Why? Is it because they resent you for parading your altruism despite the fact that they themselves actively volunteer year round, without asking for so much as a “thank you?” Is it because they work tirelessly for non-profits and research institutions, even when there isn’t a wave of Facebook posts to support the cause? Maybe they merely recognize that there are many additional organizations that are also deserving of your attention – maybe even ones you benefit from directly – and yet, you neglect to pay attention to those organizations without the added peer pressure of a silly gimmick.
It’s probably a mix of all of these things. But one thing is certain: volunteering isn’t a “special skill” or something you use to promote yourself on Match.com. It’s a basic requirement for being a decent human being.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan
Again, I’d like to sincerely congratulate those who work for ALS research. You must feel like you just won the lotto! But to those participating in the campaign: please don’t expect me to pat you on the back. You only did what many of us do on a regular basis – your part.
Guess what? It’s not enough.[Footnote: If you are one of the many, many, many (most of) people that I’ve seen post an ice bucket challenge video without so much as a link to an ALS organization or any real mention of this disease… shame on you. You are pathetic.]