Insert Your Own Cause Here

Posted: August 21, 2014 in The Responsible Citizen's Bullhorn

The Daily Prompt: Breaking the Ice

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

It’s admirable that the ALS Association started a viral campaign that has raised awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Just as it’s great that year in and year out, Revlon hosts a 5K/Walk-a-thon to raise awareness of breast cancer. “Movember” – Mustache November — raises awareness of prostate cancer. Jerry Lewis hosts a telethon for muscular dystrophy. There are a gazillion causes out there, and yet the ALS Challenge is the one that currently grabs everyone’s attention. I don’t quite get how one gets sucked into this whole “viral” thing. Is it peer pressure? Coercion? A mob effect? For all its good intentions, the message of ALS might have gotten lost on the wayside, by and large. Not on me, however. Lou Gehrig’s disease is a debilitating disease that many of us are already aware of. Stephen Hawking is perhaps its most famous living spokesperson. Many others aren’t so lucky to be in such a position. I lost a friend who suffered from ALS. I don’t need a cute viral campaign to remind me.

There’s more to my aloofness. It’s not so much that I’m being a rebel. In a certain context that would be a sort of attention-grabbing posturing. I certainly don’t need any more than what I get on a daily basis. Call it skepticism, for lack of a better word. There’s really nothing wrong with having a little fun, dousing your friends in ice water, especially on a hot summer day. Nothing wrong with going viral with it. But in the bigger scheme of things, when the things that draw 90% of the world’s attention are ice-bucket challenges and vainglorious selfies, when there are riots, wars, and beheadings going on…  then something is fundamentally wrong with our society. It’s understandable that in today’s world, rife with problems, people tend to gravitate towards what gives them some sort of happiness. Making light of a debilitating disease like ALS, by dousing others with ice, seems to come close. We like the fun part; never mind what the cause was all about, or how the activity may be in poor taste.

So yeah, I’ll shy away from any causes with flashy events — but I’m not being a contrarian for contrary’s sake. My head’s already involved in so many causes around the world, I’m at the point of overload. The things I espouse are commonplace, yet important. I value equality and social justice, above all else. Education. Literacy. Affordable health care.  LGBT rights.  Women’s rights. World peace. Space travel. These are my causes, among so many others. They are legion. An ice-bucket challenge is nice. So is a 5K race. But what about the rest of them? Do we do a “Best Selfie” campaign to raise awareness for victims of rape? Or another massive concert like the 1980’s Band Aid, which raised some awareness about famine in Africa, yet still ultimately failed? We tend to get worked up about causes that are dramatic. People start movements, but mostly as a reaction to a predicament. Yet hardly any of us give a thought about what a boring cause like affordable healthcare or education would do, to avoid such things in the first place. And that, Friends, is where I’ll leave you at: Instead of being reactive, passively following the lemming-like nature of trends and viral fads… why don’t we be proactive and think about the things that are near and dear to your hearts? Don’t get mindlessly drawn into distractions. Go out and find your own individual causes. Or all of them. Stick to them, devote as much (or as little) as you can. Be a Citizen of the World, always involved and aware and on your own terms.. Don’t wait for the fads; go start one. Remember, we’re not just spectators. Every single one of us have something that attaches us to this World, and to others, something that moves us. Go find that something.

Copyright © 2014 The Anabases

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