Sunday, August 17, 2014

To give.... or to pour a bucket of ice on yourself... That is the question.

So, probably like many of you I have been watching the slew of ice bucket challenge videos being posted on Facebook recently.  A large part of me has been watching them with curious bemusement and fear that someone will extend the challenge to me. It's interesting to watch. I wonder what motivates people to participate. Does it stem from complete altruism? A desire to help a cause? Or is it the attention and "Likes" you get from doing the challenge and your perceived charitable intentions. If I were a gambling person I'd bet it's the latter.

But I'm willing to play devil's advocate and believe that people aren't inherently self-serving but truly altruistic and charitable. Even still... assuming that this is true I'm still bothered by the ice bucket challenge videos. In my opinion, true altruism doesn't strive to be recognized. True altruism doesn't ask other people match their level of altruism. Believe it or not, I think the bible, Matthew 6:1-4, describes the best practice for charity.  It reads:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Now whether you believe in God or not has no matter, the message that is being conveyed is still valuable. Doing something good with the ulterior motive of being recognized by others is essentially doing something for yourself. It just looks prettier. It's kind of like donating to charity so you can have a tax write off. Well... who are you really serving here? The charity or yourself? 

Getting back to playing devil's advocate, I suppose the ice bucket challenge is bringing awareness to a charity largely forgotten in the world of charities. ALS has reported that it often suffers with a lack of donations during the summer months and this year, with the help of the ice bucket challenge their donations have increased. So clearly people are actually donating and not just saying that they are or just putting up videos. There is clearly some good being made from this challenge, I won't even think to deny that.

After being challenged whether or not I choose to donate will be my choice, a choice you won't find me announcing. I may have already donated... or not, that's not important. You definitely won't find me pouring a bucket of ice on myself and posting a video of it. You also won't find me challenging anyone else to either donate or pour a bucket of ice on themselves (or both). We don't know each other's financial situations. Some of us may not have the luxury of surplus money to donate at the moment. So no, I don't challenge anyone to donate. I do encourage people to donate if it's something they want to do and are in the position to do so. Charitable work after all... is good for the soul.