The Ice Bucket Challenge

Enjoy this thoughtful look at the phenomenon sweeping the world – brought to you by our fabulous junior high Core member, Alex Kruel!

I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about the Ice Bucket Challenge over the past week, and not just because the homemade video clips have taken over my Facebook feed. This new internet craze has also sparked some thoughtful discussion amongst my friends and family, and I have heard opinions at both extremes of the spectrum as well as everywhere in between. But it wasn’t until I was personally challenged that I finally formed my own opinion.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is really simple: a person is dared to dump a bucket of ice cold water over their head, and then has 24 hours to either complete the challenge or donate $100 towards the fight against ALS. Complete the challenge and you earn the privilege of daring three more people, thus continuing the cycle. The results so far: millions of videos have been uploaded to social media sites, and millions of additional dollars have been donated to the ALS Association.

However, the question many are now asking is this: why dump a bucket of ice water over my head in a proud show of bravado instead of humbly making a donation? By completing the challenge, aren’t I really just choosing to draw attention to myself instead of contributing to a worthy cause? Why is egotism considered success while altruism is considered failure? This makes no sense!

Or does it? I would argue that the perceived irony of this situation is only superficial. Of course I acknowledge that completing the challenge will bring me 60 seconds of Facebook fame as friends and acquaintances view the video I post. But the impact doesn’t just stop here; it extends far beyond me. Note that I am still free to make a donation to help those fighting ALS. Note that I am raising awareness of ALS among the people who see my video, the people I challenge, and eventually the people they challenge. Note that I am nudging people to at least think about donating to the fight against ALS, or maybe donating to a different charity that has a special meaning to them.

Why is this all goodness? Because at the most fundamental level, I am inviting our society to spend more time loving one another! I am challenging people to step away from our self-serving cultural norm, however so briefly, to serve the needs of our greater community. And whether they answer the call or not, that nudge towards charity is what I am called to do as a servant of God. I fully understand that some people will choose to use this opportunity selfishly instead of selflessly, but isn’t that ultimately true of any initiative, social media related or otherwise? Rather than expecting to wholly succeed, I must strive to take baby steps, planting seeds along the way, seeds that will someday bear fruit.

We cannot let planting the seeds become optional. Our society has already tilled the fields for us by accepting and embracing this challenge of charity. Now it is up to us to keep sowing, to seed even the soil that we are unsure of, joyfully and prayerfully. Have fun with this! Before we know it, the excitement will pass, and people who dump buckets of ice water over their heads will only get funny looks in response. Let’s make the most of this opportunity while we still can!

Within the next 24 hours, I will be completing the Ice Bucket Challenge and sharing the invitation to love and to serve with three of my friends and family. If I choose you, how will you respond?

“We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly.

We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.”

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