It was only a matter of time before the ALS Bucket Challenge attracted negative attention, just because it’s been so successful. Every business owner dreams of seeing a product they promote go viral — and as a person who runs a business reliant on the generosity of others, it’s beautiful to see people dousing themselves in ice-cold water and writing checks for a charity. It’s admirable to the point of ideal.
In a matter of weeks I’ve seen friends who’ve never known – or would have never come to know – what ALS is and participate in this “outpouring of support.” Yet people do exist who have the disease, and even more people exist who suffer watching loved ones endure a fate we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy.
So if a simple social media campaign makes the most unlikely of people pour ice-cold water on their heads, raises awareness of something many ignore or never heard about, great.
Every person deserves dignity no matter how rare his or her circumstances, and every human ailment deserves our consideration. Arguments about how certain diseases or circumstances impact too “few” people are repugnant, and calling this particular campaign a waste of water is just low. Yes, water is a precious resource. But life is a precious resource, too. There is nothing wrong with taking action about a problem that affects one or two people, or millions, and there are better ways to promote water conversation than attack a charity or it’s donors.
There is passion in the world, as indicated by the fact we are all so passionate about vastly different things. There are people whose privileges are not ours, but we do have the freedom to join together when we are privileged to find others who share our priorities. It’s actually the essence of freedom and should be celebrated proudly as the American Way.
The ALS challenge is an enormous success, even if you never decide to dump a bucket of ice water over your head or make a donation to the cause yourself. Simply coming into contact with the campaign raises awareness and will pique interest. More often than not, raising awareness is just as valuable as raising money. Names and faces replace empty spaces, especially when people are in the habit of looking the other way.
It isn’t easy to inspire people to give money out of the goodness of their heart for the sake of others. It isn’t easy to bring awareness to something so “insignificant” to so many people they’d rather go on with their day than listen to a word you say. But when the moment comes — when someone breaks through the silence most people would prefer to hear — they should be celebrated with awe and respect because there are plenty of good people out there with passion who have no success getting others to listen.
So if for no other reason, find a bucket and fill it with water and ice because a nonprofit inspired by someone — so moved by the horrible loss of a loved one — dared someone who dared someone who dared you to pour it over your head. Participating in some else’s successful campaign won’t take anyone’s life, or dry up the earth, or pull resources from other worthy causes. Generosity is contagious and generosity often begets more generosity.
If you think your donation won’t be well spent with the ALS Association, consider how much money wasn’t spent to open your mind through a humble Facebook campaign, and how clever people with passion can be when they won’t let limited resources be an obstacle. Some brilliant group of people used the social network to raise awareness and built a movement on a platform that will barely show up as a cost on a financial statement.
People with the greatest passions use every single asset at their disposal to forward their mission. If that doesn’t make simple sense to you because you think resources should go to something you care about instead, then pour a bucket of ice-cold water over your head because you just may need to wake up.
The ALS Bucket Challenge isn’t standing in anyone’s way, and it isn’t distracting anyone from other pressing issues. It is raising the bar for social responsibility and setting a standard for those who want to take action to help others.
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