Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#IBC (Hurricane of Humanity)

Hoooo boy, get comfy. Once again, the problem is where to begin? My thoughts have been swirling around for days and I swear they're still not any more organized for all the thought that's going into this post.

Three words. Ice Bucket Challenge.

Those of you on Facebook are already getting up and leaving the computer, because you're afraid of getting wet again. Or are hoping against hope your friends will all somehow overlook you and you won't be nominated for a lapful of ice water. Or don't want to hear any bashing of any kind about the ALS challenge.

I get it. Believe me, I am right there with you.

But there is simply so much to talk about with it. Let's start with the obvious: it is raising a TON of money for ALS research, and we can all agree that that is a wonderful thing. Yay!

Wait, maybe I need to back up. I don't watch the news. And some of you are not on Facebook, so you're not seeing video clip after clip of people dumping ice water on themselves because a friend has called them out after they themselves have been self-doused. Apparently the rules are simple. Either you donate $10 to ALS research and dump a bucket of ice water on yourself, or you donate $100 and stay dry.


Here's another sticky part of it. My perceptive hubby stated, "sometimes peer pressure masquerades as a good cause." I am seeing an awful lot of kids either helping dump the water or getting water on themselves and challenging other friends and family members to do the same. Where is the line about, "well, I'm doing this because it raises money and awareness for a good cause" and "well, I'm doing this because so and so nominated me and I can't back out because then I'll have to pay money and ..." You see what I mean? How do we teach our kids to avoid peer pressure and stand up for themselves if grown adults are plastering social media with an adult version of peer pressure?

What's next? Is there going to be a live goldfish swallowing contest to raise money for Alzheimer's? Is everyone going to start shaving their heads for cancer research? Is Joe Schmo going to have a contest to raise money for him so that he can stay dry but still give HIS $100 to ALS?

I got to thinking about hurricanes. I don't know anything about them, having never experienced one, but I know that the edges bring rain. I was wondering if some of those outermost clouds peel off and end up doing their own thing. Some of my friends have decided to do that. They've deactivated their Facebook accounts so that, in theory, nobody can nominate them, and so that they don't have to see a news feed of a million ice bucket video clips. Is the peer pressure like the eye of a hurricane, leaving destruction in its wake as it sucks everything into itself? Those who leave Facebook, are they suddenly outcasts because they won't go along with the crowd? I know some of them are going to experience ribbing for not just sucking it up and doing it. Is it going to bother them? Are they going to be guilted into paying the $100?

And what if, and I'm cringing here, because I have already heard nastiness about criticism for the challenge, ALS doesn't affect you or your loved ones, but something else has grabbed ahold of your family tree and is trying to throttle it? Strings of cancers, alcohol abuse, etc. can also ruin lives. What if you'd rather have your money help stop those? Who is keeping track of all this anyway? And is it really even anyone's business who you give $10, $100, whatever to?

I can just hear my mother's answer to that one.

How do you go along with the spirit of the thing, yet stay true to yourself and your beliefs? How do you use enough grace to stand alone to say, "this is what I believe and this is what I'm doing what I'm doing"?

Another tentacle of this whole thing is the water itself. Not that long ago our area went without being able to use water from our taps. Is it responsible of us to be dumping it over our heads, essentially wasting it all? I have a friend in California who said, "I'll donate for it, but I'm not doing the water part." I thought it was the perfect solution.

I'd mentioned before that we just bought a house. Who knows what the $100 would go towards if I stay dry: closing costs, inspections, new furniture, etc.  It makes me wonder who will go without something they themselves need because they feel guilty about not playing by the rules. Or like my husband remarks, "you worry too much. Nobody's going to pay who doesn't want to pay." But my heart hopes for that honor code, that people WOULD stick to what they say they'll do.

Just when I thought everyone and their mother had done the challenge, and I'd escaped, I was nominated. Today is the day I need to decide what to do. And I am still waffling.

I love how the whole thing started. I love that friends took up a banner for Pete Frates and did this thing out of love. That's how life SHOULD work. We should love extravagantly and largely and crazily. It enriches the lives of those around us and our own. It fights selfishness. It keeps our hearts open and free.

I have  three four favorite ice bucket video clips. The first is my brother's. He took the time to tie in the fact that ALS robs your body of its ability to do simple tasks, like lifting a bucket of ice water. He promoted this link Live Like Lou in his video so people could get more information. I liked my friend Joe's clip, who did the challenge willingly and then, when asked who he'd like to nominate, said, "nobody. The friend on friend violence ends with me." I thought Benedict Cumberbatch did a hilarious job with his, and you can see it here for a good giggle. And to my friend who nominated me, when it was time to douse herself she doused her sister instead. Too funny. She did do another take and ended up cold and wet. All in fun.

Okay, back to the water crisis. I saw a photo today of a bunch of people doing the challenge together captioned "America" with a photo below it displaying a small black child sipping water from a lid of a water bottle that claimed "Africa" and it broke my heart. I know we are often wasteful as a nation, but to see it like that in a simple picture was awful. Are we really wasting such a precious resource? Shameful.

And yet it's for a good cause. What is one bucket of water? How many companies were caught gouging prices for bottled water during our water crisis? We'd have paid a lot more than the usual few dollars a case. What must it be like all the time in arid areas? My friends will think I'm no fun and that I can't be relied on to accept a challenge. Should that even matter? Who cares? This isn't junior high anymore. Was peer pressure okay then? It sure isn't now in junior high.

Can you hear the small angel and the small devil arguing on both sides of my head like in the cartoons? Where do I really belong in the hurricane of humanity, at least on this issue? Will I be an outlying cloud? Will I be pulled into the eye? Will I go with the flow whether I want to or not?

I wonder what clouds think.

What would you do?