Ice Bucket…Controversy?

Controversy? Over the ice bucket challenge?!

I’m surprised that something like this would even generate controversy but I do get how sweeping fads are suspect and rejected by many people. I’m usually one of them! But I think this case is different. It raises funding for a terrible disease. Maybe just as important, it raises awareness for the disease. It also gives us a sense of community when everyone participates, from our neighbors to the likes of Bill Gates and former President Bush.

So why are some expressing concern? Here is what I’ve seen:

  • Most people just want to participate in the trend and couldn’t care less about why.
  • Many people do not actually donate to the cause.
  • Money that is being donated is just shifted away from other charities.
  • It wastes good clean water and parts of the world have a major lack of supply.
  • It will die off and the momentary fame will shift away to something else.

For me, most of this is moot. Even if people just follow a viral fad on social media and don’t really care, it does raise awareness among the general public. Even if most people don’t actually donate, a lot of people are donating. To the tune of around $41 million so far. Wow!

I don’t think there’s a way to know if other charities are hurting as a result. You probably can’t measure it for a few more months, and I’m not sure there’s anything you can (or should) do about that. Anyone strongly committed would continue to donate and the others just come and go anyway, so it would all level out.

Wasting good clean water. <sigh> I can see how this would strike a sour note with some people in some parts of the world who have little or no access to clean water. This is an issue my wife has been vocal about for years. The problem is that getting it to them, or cleaning their water, is monumentally challenging. It’s not the same in most of America. We can turn on a faucet and have access. It’s so plentiful that we can take really long showers, leave a spigot running while we go a use a sponge to clean the kitchen table, water our lawns all summer, and so on. That counts for non-water waste too, like all the food we just throw away or the gasoline we use carelessly. It goes on and on. Dumping water on our heads may appear wasteful to those who would walk for a day to get that same amount of water. But we know that far more water is wasted in immeasurable quantities than buckets of water in a few-week trend. And we know getting that water to those who really need it…well, it requires a lot more than an ice bucket.

As for the last point – I’m sure it will die off and we’ll go back to memes and food porn in our social media feed. (Actually, it never went away!) Or, maybe, someone will come up with an ingenious way to raise awareness for clean water around the world. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Until then…yes, our family was challenged and we participated:

Please do consider contributing financially to this worthy cause at! The awareness of a disease that over time permanently imprisons someone inside their own body is good. But praying on it and doing something about it is impactful.

Author: Bob Miller

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