Unless you were recently roused from a coma, chances are you’ve heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Videos are all over television and social media of people dousing themselves in icy water and daring their friends to do the same. The stunts are to raise money for ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
If you don’t know what the challenge is exactly, or anything about ALS, I’m not surprised. Most of the videos and posts I’ve seen are pretty vague about the “rules” and even the benefits of the exploit. I suggest you look it up if it intrigues you.
I haven’t been “challenged” as of yet, but I have decided I will not be participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge, or donating to ALS, should this fad come around to me.
A few things before I get called a heartless and uncaring person: Is Lou Gehrig’s disease a horrific ailment? Yup. Do the sufferers deserve awareness, research, and work toward a cure? Absolutely. Is this trend raising money for the cause? It sure is. Do I support donating to worthwhile charities, whether it is by giving your money, your time, or whatever you have available? You bet your ass I do.
But, honestly, ALS does not affect me. I don’t know anyone who has it. I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who has it.
In short, I’m not passionate about it.
There are lots of things I am passionate about: music and arts education, animal welfare, the military, marriage equality, AIDS research . . . the list goes on. Every year, I donate to charities and volunteer at functions that support these causes. Because they are important to me. Because I care about them. Because PASSION for them compels me to do it.
And if someone asks me to donate to a charity that I don’t feel passionately about, or that I am not familiar with, or that can’t tell me how the funds will be spent, I politely decline. And you should too. Philanthropy is about doing good that you believe in; it’s about finding what drives you and making things better as a result, even if it’s in a small way.
I won’t donate to a cause simply because I see some gimmick on the internet. Or because someone I know dared me to. Or because the whole world knows about it and thinks I should.
If you’ve taken the Ice Bucket Challenge and donated, good for you. I hope your money is spent wisely and leads to healthier, happier lives.
But I also hope you donate or volunteer for a cause that YOU choose. Something that lights a fire in you. Something that is deeply important to you.
Would my view on the Ice Bucket Challenge change if one of my loved ones was suddenly struck down by ALS? Possibly. But that’s one of the great things about passion for a cause: you can have as many as you like.