I got tapped the other day by my best friend and favorite person in the world, Dr. Katherine H. Clark, to do that “ice bucket challenge” thing. I was dreading that, and I really hate to say no to Dr.
Here are a few things about it:
- Bluntly, even though I know a bit about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) I… still don’t care that much about it. It’s a rather rare disease, terrible for those who are affected by it but… sigh. We can’t fix everything right away. I wouldn’t start there.
- The gimmicky nature of this thing pushes my “KONY 2012” buttons.
- Oh. I’m really uncomfortable with the part where you call your friends out publicly. I’m not Jewish, but I’m a big fan of Maimonides’s Eight Levels of Charity. Long story short, if people know you’re donating, it’s less of a mitzvah. This thing is designed to draw attention to your donation. It makes me uncomfortable.
- Furthermore, a hundred bucks to me isn’t the same as a hundred bucks to someone else. I know a lot of people who would have to turn down (gently deflect, awkwardly ignore) the challenge because they money is just too much. I realize that it’s totally allowable to donate less if that’s what you can afford, but it’s still putting the expectation out there. It’s extra discomfort for people who don’t need one more thing to feel guilty about.
- Back to the gimmick–I realize that nonprofits do all kinds of clever things to attract attention and get people to give money. I’ve done fundraisers where you pay to join your friends for dinner, or where you pay for a concert, or where there are silly prizes. Sure. The ice-on-your-head thing, though, huh. Maybe I’m old and cranky. I guess the silliness ratio is just too high for my taste.
- Admittedly kind of a non sequitur: For the last two weeks I have been absolutely sick over the police-state bullshit going on in Missouri. It’s driving me crazy that people who consider themselves good Americans aren’t outraged by it. So part of me wants to say “Forget being ‘aware’ of a disease that isn’t anyone’s fault. Let’s all be a hell of a lot more aware of effectively losing the Bill of Rights.” Obviously the ALS fundraiser isn’t the problem here, but it still grates.
- My convenient excuse! My cardiologist says I need to avoid sudden extremes of heat and cold. There you go.
- Finally, now we’re deciding who lives and dies based on which charity has the silliest fundraisers? Cringe?
My objections add up to… not much really. I can’t find the exact words right now, but Dr said something like “Look, if you think it’s dumb that’s fine, but people are doing a fun and silly thing that is nice and helps others and I’m always in favor of doing nice things.”
Hmm. Dilemma. Dr’s right. I don’t want to bug out of doing a nice thing that helps people, but I don’t like this bucket-of-ice thing either and I am not that concerned about ALS.
Now something I do care about is kids with cancer. It’s not so rare: 1 child in 300 is diagnosed with some form of cancer before turning 18. Research into childhood cancer benefits everyone, including adults, and successful treatment of cancer in children obviously has the best payoff if you’re counting future healthy years.
And finally, one of my children was saved from a particularly harsh form of leukemia by an aggressive chemotherapy program that was part of a research project funded by the Children’s Oncology Group, which is now known as CureSearch. (They look pretty good on Charity Navigator too.) I’ll throw $100 in today, and rather than specifically calling out my friends I’m just going to ask you to consider doing the same.
Best of luck to the ALS people.