Social media, and even broadcast media is currently preoccupied with the 'ice bucket challenge' whereby people pour (or have poured) over themselves buckets of iced, or at least cold, water. This isvideoed and uploaded to a social media site, with a donation to charity and a challenge to three or more friends to 'go and do likewise'.
The challenge began in the USA for their ALS charity, and was picked up by its UK equivalents MNDA and MND Scotland. Copycat challenges have emerged either directly from big charities (such as MacMillan) or individuals deciding to donate elsewhere.
Comments are wide ranging but seem to include the following...
- it's dangerous - well yes, but so is skydiving, pier-jumping and even marathon running.
- it's a waste of water, what about all those poor people in such-and-such a land - well yes, but I seem to recall someone wasted a bottle of perfume once and the response was that the poor will always be with you...
- it's 'ours' - well yes, and no, I don't think there's any copyright on pouring water over your head
- it's not planned or regular - true, but then neither is the giving to those TV phone in things, or any of the other random challenges that appear
The criticisms are valid, I'm not disputing them. But there is a fair deal of missing the point going on here, at least in my opinion.
MND is an especially cruel disease for which there is no treatment and no cure - raising money for this 'cinderella' condition is important, and this challenge seems to be doing that very successfully.
If people are really concerned about the waste of water, there are any number of charities working alongside the world's poorest and most disadvantaged people to sink weels, install taps, clean toilets and so forth. WaterAid, Oxfam, Save the Children, BMS, TEAR fund,... the list goes on and on...
Does it matter if some other charity copies a good idea? I think not. The rise of marathon running as a charity fundraising enterprise indicates this... the cancer charities alongside the homlessness charities alongside the animal charities... Whoever is not against us is for us, I think.
And of course planned giving is good, most of my giving is planned, but I also give a lot of money spontaneously in bucket collections, 'flag' days (not seen an actual 'flag' in decades) and text in donations.
So no, I didn't pour icy water over my head, but I don't see anything wrong with it either. I did make an 'ice bucket challenge' donation to MND Scotland in memory of K whose funeral I conducted last week.
One final thought... as we arrived at church last night for a meeting, members of one of the user groups of our premises were using the pathway as a place to do the icebucket challenge... these are people with multiple problems and who did not stop to think what a nuisance doing it there was, both in terms of safety and mess, but their hearts were 100% in the right place. Most likely they aren't in a position to plan giving, most likely the niceties of pious middle-class people would pass right over their heads, but they had something totally right... they were having fun and giving generously. I kind of think that Jesus smiled.