Tag Archives: Challenges

ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge: An Imperfect Place

The devil hides down amongst the cubes*.

You’d have to have not paid your Internet bill over the last couple of months to miss out on knowing about the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge thing.

It started with some professional athletes, not — as myth would have it — an ALS patient. The challenge was to either be filmed dumping a bucket of ice over your head or give money to a charity of your choice. It morphed from there.

And promptly went viral.

Which led to thousands of people filming themselves while having a bucket of ice dumped on their heads while challenging others to do the same. In fact, my dad and I even watched one of those happen poolside at Chabil Mar, a resort in the Central American country of Belize. It was a few weeks ago, before this really hit big so we had no idea what it was about.

Those last four words there. . . That’s what this is about.

So far this post, I’ve written a lot of words about the Ice-Bucket Challenge and mentioned ALS only twice. And never said what ALS really is.

Better known as Lou Gherig’s Disease, named for the New York Yankees baseball player who contracted the disease and thereby showed the bits of the country that liked baseball and were paying attention that the disease existed, ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive, degenerative disease that gradually destroy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and spinal column. Over time, the disease annihilates voluntary control over the body’s muscles, robbing the person with the disease of the ability to move, to speak, to breathe. For some patients, the end point of the disease is total paralysis of the body. And the worst part is that their mind still is active and aware and trapped in a decayed body incapable of responding to anything.

ALS is, to put it mildly, a horrifying disease. Donating money to help fund research into a cure or a way to slow the progression of the disease is definitely a worthy cause. (Those who want to donate without resorting to dumping ice water on their heads can do so at the ALSA gift page.)

So, given all that, I should be all for the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge, right, dudes?. After all, as of Friday, the challenges have resulted in the ALS Association receiving more than $41 million in donations.

My issue is with all the challengers who do nothing but dump ice on their own heads, laugh, record it and then post it to some social media site, daring others to follow suit. They don’t know what ALS is. They don’t donate to any sort of charitable institution, including the ALS Association, and only do it because everyone else is doing it. 

After all, the challenge is donate to the ALSA OR dump a bucket of ice on their heads.

I talked about this on Facebook and was called out by several of my friends there (actual friends who I actually know) for dumping (no pun intended) on the whole idea. They focused on the positives, on the donations that were raised, which are substantial.

I thought about it and talked it over with Zippy the Travelin’ Boy, who has some similar issues with the challenge. While Zippy the Travelin’ Boy still takes issue with it (mostly, I think, because it’s popular and he likes to be a contrarian) and, to be honest, so do I, it all led to the realization that I was focusing too much on the negative.

I’ll pause now for your shocked intake of breath.

This was brought home to me — literally — when Hyper Lad walked up to me with a hang-dog look, holding a bucket of ice and a video camera.

Before I would participate, he and I had a long talk about what amyotrophic lateral sclerosis actually does and agreed that he would donate money to the ALS Association.

Only then could I laugh at him when his oldest brother, Sarcasmo, poured cube-filled, ice-cold water over the young dude’s head.

Yes, in a perfect world, Hyper Lad’s fellow shiverers would be donating to worthy charitable causes on a regular basis and also donating their time, sweat and effort. They’d already know what ALS really is, why we should support research toward a cure, and be doing the ice thing only to help raise awareness and get more people to donate money to worthy charities.

But, as the estimable John Bender once said: “Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”

And it’s true.

Screws do fall out all the time.

I guess I’ll just have to live with the idea that people are dumping ice on their heads just because everybody else is doing it. And also some of them might actually understand that this is being used to help raise money to combat an appalling disease.

It’s not perfect, but that’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

As if the world were waiting for my approval anyway.

*Yes, this was an imperfect metaphor. I was trying to evoke the whole thing about the devil being in the detail and then conflating that with the ice-bucket challenge. Don’t judge me. I was . . . stretching.


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Self Control

by Richard

Before he boomeranged back from High Point University, Sarcasmo had been going to tae kwon do lessons for a couple of years, eventually earning a blue belt.

Although he hasn’t gone back (yet), we’re still in contact with the sensei who runs the school. Master Harris runs the Martial Arts University here in Charlotte. He is one all-right dude. Master Harris runs his school in the best way possible. He is tough, expects excellence from his students, but also is one of the most encouraging and optimistic dudes I’ve ever met.

He’s also got a lot to say.

He sends out inspirational messages to everyone in his e-mailing list and, unlike most other mailing lists I have the misfortune to be stuck on, I actually look forward to hearing from Master Harris. This week, he finished talking about self control, how it can be useful in both tae kwon do and real life.

One of the challenges with becoming a true leader is having the confidence in oneself to take a few moments before reacting to a situation. Setting the example for others doesn’t mean having to be the first to respond or take immediate action. In fact a delay of a few seconds shows a more controlled response than following up immediately. It demonstrates that one is thinking about what has occurred and very likely listening to what is being said. Remember, others can only guess at what you are thinking or feeling until you actually respond. Once you respond that’s it and sets the tone for all that follows. 

 Taking a few seconds also ensures you are really exercising control over your emotions versus avoiding them. Can a person truly be considered brave if they have not known fear? Of course not. The same is true for self-control. By taking a few moments to at least consider a situation versus leaving the area, we have to acknowledge our fear, anger, frustration or confusion and by taking the extra step to deal with it effectively, we are truly exercising self-control over ourselves and the situation. This is what sets the best example for others. 

This sort of thing is especially difficult to achieve in Casa de Dude, where we’ve got three diagnosed cases of impulsive ADD and two probable but undiagnosed cases. Interrupting or acting on impulse isn’t just something we do, it’s something we are.

Reading this bit, though. . . Well, it’s given me a different appreciation for waiting.

As I read it, this isn’t the same as counting to 10. Counting to 10, is pretty much just an ostentatious way of saying to the person with whom you’re interacting, “You’re making me mad, but I’m going to show you I’m the better dude by remaining calm.” This isn’t the same thing.

It’s just taking a beat or two to consider the situation and get a couple of different ideas about the best way to proceed.

That’s advice we can all use.

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