I wonder, sometimes (lots of times) if I’m maybe getting a little crotchety now I’ve hit that 30 mark, if perhaps somewhere along the line I’ve lost my sense of ‘fun.’ My Facebook feed, just like most I imagine, has been over-run lately with videos of the ALS ice bucket challenge and the whole thing is just making me think things.
Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against raising both awareness and money (I conceded and took part in the ‘no make-up selfie’ earlier this year) and I think anything which at its heart is about those two things can only be A Good Thing.
ALS (or MND as we know it in the UK) is a horrible horrible condition, and it’s close to my heart: my Auntie lost her Mum to MND, and my cousins their grandmother. I know how awful it is, and there is no doubt at all that the £48 million donated to the cause worldwide since the ice bucket challenge started is excellent. If you want to take part, if you want to pour a bucket of ice cold water over your head in the name of charity then be my guest. I applaud you. I offer to you the highest of fives.
I shan’t be joining in, though.
Call me a spoilsport, or a killjoy, or a wimp. Call me what you will, but here’s the thing, I just think it’s gone a little crazy. I give to charity; I have a direct debit set up to the charity of my choice. I make a donation every single month and have done for ten years. I just don’t like being made to feel like I have to do something, that if I don’t do it then I will be judged or called out. I’ve seen a couple of other people refuse the challenge - refuse the challenge but still make a generous donation - which surely is the point, right?
‘Not good enough’ the comments declare, ‘the forfeit for not taking part is £100.’
The forfeit? I do not like this, not one little bit (said the fish in the bowl to the cat in the hat etcetera) Then, 24 hours the videos tell me. 24 hours, or what exactly? The whole thing feels too much like peer pressure and I don’t like that.
Charity isn’t about giving (and dousing yourself in cold water) because you feel like you have to. It’s about those who have a little more than they need, giving whatever they can to a cause that needs it. Raising money and awareness is admirable, but feeling obliged to do something just because a bucketload (pun intended) of people on the internet are doing the same and making me feel like I have to? It just doesn’t feel right.
It’s not a challenge; it’s a dare. I don’t like to be dared.
If I’m going to give to charity – like I already do – then I want it to be my choice. If I want to do a run, or even dump a bucket of iced water over my head and raise money by doing so then I will. But don’t make me feel like I have no choice, don’t make me feel like I will be ridiculed for not taking part, don’t make me feel bad.
& before you start, this has nothing to do with the discomfort of the icy cold water of the challenge, and everything to do with the discomfort of the situation.
Something else? There is something inherently wrong I think, in giving to one group of people in needs whilst laughing in the face of another. California at the moment is in the middle of one of the worst droughts ever recorded – taps have dried up and water wastage is being fined – but even that is nothing in comparison to the millions of people who are dying all the time because they don’t have access to clean water and here we are, millions of us who have an endless supply of water at our fingertips, literally pouring it away. For….charity. The figures I read claimed approx. 5 people per day die from MND in the UK alone, which is terrible. The number of deaths from having no access to clean water though? Closer to 3.5million a year. It kind of makes you think a little, doesn’t it?
I’ve made my donation to MND (text ICED55 and your amount to 70070 if you want to do the same. It really is a very worthy cause) and I’ve made a small donation to wateraid too, but that bucket of water? It’s staying full.