This article is my obligatory Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis post. Maybe you're like me, and you're growing weary of the recent cultural obsession with pouring cold water over one's head. I'm glad that it's raising awareness of a need to fund research in treating this debilitating and fatal illness.
This media frenzy is a double-edged sword. My immediate response to media frenzies is to think about the stories that aren't being heard. Apparently, the current bonanza has generated a lot of money for research, and that's a good thing. Funding needs to go into treating this and other diseases too. I'm sure you can think of people in your life (maybe even you) that have dealt with severe illness (maybe Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, perhaps something else).
The opinions I describe here might be out of step with the spirit of the season. Incidentally, I get this way about Christmas. For example, I'm down with celebrating the lives of political revolutionaries that stuck it to the man and were rewarded with assassination (i.e., Jesus - let's not get carried away, "belief" and "faith" in no way factor into my decision making process). So why don't we use Christmas to celebrate the lives of people like Martin Luther King, Steven Biko, or Anna Politkovskaya, for instance?
OK - so, all this is beside the point. The point is to raise awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and to try and raise some bucks. I won't be pouring water over my head in front of a camera. I abhor cameras, and I hate people telling me to do something because everyone else is doing it and then being judged for not joining the god-damned party. It hits too many personal issues I thought I resolved when I was 10. Or maybe I'm too chicken-shit and have way too many social phobias. I don't know. But I am happy to fork over some cash/effort/life-energy to help out some people or causes that need it and withhold it from those who misuse it. It's how I attempt to live my life.
If you're like me and you're sick of the way people tend to create a violent atmosphere of judgment, scrutiny, and surveillance in the name of a good cause, don't let society corrupt your impulse to give to those causes in which you hold value. Give in any way you feel is natural - even if it's by pouring water on your head. You don't need to make a media spectacle out of your philanthropic interests unless that's how you roll.
What Really Matters: Get Over Yourself and Care About Something
Two of the coolest people I know about are living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Stephen Hawking and Jason Becker.
If you are a citizen of the technologized world, I hope you have heard of Stephen Hawking. If not, get a high school science textbook and look inside. Hopefully, you'll find something in there about this guy's contributions to the popular understanding of physics and cosmology. If you ever want a living, breathing example of the human will to live long and prosper (pun intended), learn something about this guy's life.
Wikipedia - Stephen Hawking
Youtube - Stephen Hawking
I'm not a big heavy-metal fan, but Jason Becker is a virtuosic player of the guitar. You can hear influences ranging from Blues, American Country and Classical, all within a single 8 bar solo. I also would not have heard about Jiddu Krishnamurti were it not for taking an interest in this guy's music and learning more about his creative life. If you ever start doubting yourself because of anything, think about how this guy's big break came in the early '90s touring the world with David Lee Roth, when he began to collapse on stage during sound checks. ALS didn't stop him, though. He continues to make music today.
Wikipedia - Jason Becker
Youtube - Jason Becker
I hope checking out these resources will inspire you. Don't forget to give to something you think is worth it.
Wikipedia references for political revolutionaries that stuck it to the man and were rewarded with assassination (check them out):
Wikipedia - Jesus
Wikipedia - Dr. King
Wikipedia - Steven Biko
Wikipedia - Anna Politkovskaya