By Greg Price
You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
Yes, it is a line off of 2008’s movie The Dark Knight, but I keep thinking of that line when I read of some of the backlash the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is getting. Most notably the Maclean’s article ‘Why the Ice Bucket Challenge is Bad for You’ by Scott Gilmore. It sort of gives off the vibe of a person that no matter if you try to do something good, someone will always try and find fault in it — or someone is getting sick of seeing ice bucket challenges on their Facebook feed.
For those who have been living under a rock during the summer months, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media sites with the aid of many celebrities dumping a bucket of cold water filled with ice to mimic the feeling people have who are afflicted with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is meant to raise awareness and money following certain criteria.
As a result, the ALS Association has topped the $70 million mark for this year, compared to just $2.5 million last year.
I’ll admit it, I participated in the challenge. Not so much because any of my family members have been afflicted with ALS, but because I don’t wuss out on a challenge as I was nominated. If the side product is more money and awareness for fighting the disease so be it and all the better.
I used my ice bucket challenge to promote the need of the local food bank as well.
But according to the Maclean’s magazine article, the ice bucket challenge is ‘narcissistically self promoting,’ ‘slacktivism’ and ‘ALS research is not an especially great need in public health.’ How ironic some of those words are.
The very nature of journalism has a degree of narcissism in itself in that we draw attention to ourselves as well and assume people want to read what we write. So to accuse any other motive as narcissistic is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.
Apparently doing a one minute Google search for StatsCan noting the top 20 most fatal diseases, showing things we already know like cancer and heart disease claiming more lives than ALS does not amount to slacktivism journalism to any degree whatsoever.
According to that logic, because not as many people are afflicted with ALS, our donation money is being misguided. Tell that to the people who suffer from the painful symptoms of ALS that their disease doesn’t matter as much simply because there are less of them.
‘If you want your donation to make the biggest difference, fund the diseases that need the most money,’ the article reads.
OK, according to the Maclean’s article, 72,000 Canadians die from cancer per year. That seems to meet the article author’s criteria of good reasons to donate of need, urgency and influence.
Movember is an annual event involving the growing of mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male cancers, and associated charities. As of 2011, Canadians were the largest contributors to the Movember charities of any nation.
But under Scott Gilmore’s article with bad reasons to donate: 1. Ice Buckets, 2. Wristbands. 3. Mustaches.
So not only should we donate time or money to only certain big causes (like cancer), but we should only donate in certain ways as well to those causes (no mustaches please for cancer research fundraising).
Apparently, when you give time or money to a cause, you should not be having fun while doing it. That’s a sure-fire recipe for success in getting as many people involved as possible in the first-world problems of North America.
Instead of complaining about people who are doing the Ice Bucket Challenge or Movember, maybe these Grumpy-Cat personalities should complain that these other more-urgent causes need better public relations departments in their awareness and fundraising efforts.
The rubber ducky race at the M.D. of Taber Park which raised money for the Taber Food Bank late last month? Better stop it, it’s too cutesy and fun, you may be accused of slacktivism or there is much greater atrocities in the world you should be concentrating on like Syria or the Ebola disease.
There are far more people in Africa facing hardships than there are here who need to eat in Taber with the aid of the food bank, so what were you thinking wasting your time and money on that?
My advice: Donate your time and money to whatever cause you want, be it local, national or international. Coach a youth sports team, tutor an ESL adult, sponsor a child in a war-ravished country, pick up some garbage in your neighbourhood, make those goodies for your child’s school bake sale, cut a cheque to ‘The Balding Men of Canada Support Group.’ Just do something, whether the scope is large or small, and do not let anyone make you feel guilty about it.
There will always be a cause that seems bigger or more effective to donate your time or money to.
It is a concept that can leave you with the feeling that whatever you do is never enough. Just do something, anything that makes this world a better place and don’t let the armchair quarterbacks of charity delivery bring you down.
There’s a lot more to be had by doing than by complaining. Heroes should not be made into villains simply because someone thinks you should be a different type of hero.