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A few weeks ago people started dumping ice on their heads to spread awareness for ALS and to encourage people to donate to fund research to combat this terrible disease. As you know from your newsfeed, it went super viral.

This video explains really well why the challenge matters. In sum, ALS is rare and terrifying. People don’t know about it and they don’t want to know about it. Because most people donate to causes personal to them, and pharmaceutical companies don’t have a big consumer base for it, it’s not a popular recipient of time or money.

The ice bucket challenge isn’t about people having fun and pouring water over their heads, it’s about letting people know ALS exists and needs funding. The campaign worked and raised millions and millions and millions of dollars. While it has nothing to do with ice water, it was a fun and gimmicky way to get people’s attention. It worked. People gave attention and money. Now more people know about ALS and there is more money for research. Success!

Then I saw a friend post this article from entitled “I Figured Out Why I Hate the Ice Bucket Challenge” and it made me just so sad. In it, Sarah Miller explained that although she enjoyed her frivolous weekend (her words) it was marred by irritation at people clogging up her newsfeed with ALS awareness. Sarah has finally figured out why she HATES the ice bucket challenge. She boiled down her upset to this:

At any given time, many people on the planet are enduring war and famine and violence. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that in the last few weeks the news been especially awful. Around 2,000 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died in Gaza since that conflict flared up. In our very own country, a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old boy, six times. This morning, Sudanese rebels shot down a U.N. helicopter.

And here we are in America dumping ice water on our heads, which, I insist, is more than just harmless fun for a good cause. It is disrespectful to the literally millions of people in the world who are, as I type and you read, in actual physical pain.

To me, this is the utmost of ignorance and disrespect. On so many levels. She used the tragedies occurring in Israel as an example of why nobody should care about ALS. I live in Israel so many of the ice bucket challenges I’m seeing on my newsfeed take place in Israel. Something we pride ourselves on is our empathy. We cry for the Israelis murdered by Hamas. We cry for the Palestinian people oppressed by Hamas. And we cry for people suffering from ALS, even as we run to our bomb shelters. Who is Sarah Miller to tell anybody else for whom they may cry? What level of suffering must someone be in before they earn her sympathies? How should we decide who is worthy of awareness and charity? It is saddening and sickening to me that is it possible for someone to be so selfish and hateful and at the same time so self-righteous.

And then there is this:

Do I think that there’s another way that ALS could have raised all that money so fast? Unlikely. It’s certainly better for the ALS Association and the approximately 30,000 Americans who have ALS that this happened. That said, I shudder to think about what we look like dumping freezing cold water over our heads while so much of the world at this time is plunged into acute suffering over which they have no control.

Sarah Miller’s ignorance is most highlighted in the line “literally millions of people in the world who are, as I type and you read, in actual physical pain.” You know who suffers actual physical pain, Sarah Miller? Do you know who else is in “acute suffering over which they have no control”? People with ALS. Yet for some inexplicable reason you do not want people to raise awareness or raise money for this disease and your complaint is “what we look like”. (For the record you can be dignified and participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge without even wasting water.)

You hate the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so much and would rather it never existed, that money and awareness had not been raised, because you don’t like how it looks and you don’t like that it clogs up your newsfeed? I live under the threat of rocket fire from people who have sworn to kill me and my family and wipe out my country just for being Jewish and I am nevertheless surprised by your capability of senseless hatred.

So while you go swimming and fly on airplanes and enjoy yourself while people around the world suffer actual physical pain over which they have no control, you can perhaps include in your thoughts and sympathies not just people suffering due to human evil, but also those suffering due to medical conditions that lack funding for proper research. The reason to hate ALS isn’t because it’s clogging up your newsfeed, but rather because it’s a terrible horrible disease. Perhaps if you donated to the cause it would be cured sooner and you won’t have to hear about it anymore.

August 2014
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