Getting mad at people raising money because they are using water is like getting mad at Live Aid because they were using electricity, like getting mad at an AIDS awareness campaign because condoms are made of rubber or like getting angry at gay marriage because legalising the nuptials of same-sex couples would lead to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions from all of the extra cars driving to and from weddings. In other words, it’s a wonderfully ignorant and ill-informed way of missing the larger point. A toilet flush uses anywhere between 1 and 7 gallons of water, (which is anywhere between 4 and 32 litres of water) so unless you plan on shitting and pissing in your back garden and burying the remains, in order to conserve the environment, I suggest you take your environmental anger elsewhere. Pouring water over your head is about as dangerous to the environment as it sounds. In other words, it’s not very dangerous at all.
The other argument is that throwing water over your head is an arrogant slap in the face to the millions of people without water. Still, I think that if those people living without water were to get angry at our wanton waste of resources, the #icebucketchallenge would not be the place to start. Would these same people not be as, if not more, angry at the Great British Bake-Off for its hedonistic and luxurious displays of excess cakes and pastries? And the Great British Bake-Off dares to do all of this without raising a penny for charity.
The world is full of bad news, happening 24 hours a day a day, but for once humanity won. We poured water over our heads – thousands if not millions of us – in order to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a life-threatening disorder usually associated with Stephen Hawking. And then, because humans are wonderful, people branched out. They began pouring water over their heads to raise money for cancer, for Palestine, or for Bristolian hospitals (as in my case). We poured water over our heads and we altruistically gave our money away. That’s fantastic. That’s amazing. That’s the kind of shit John Lennon would have written about.
So please, please, do not try to tell me that this is somehow a bad thing. Lots of people are doing it, and I’m sure there’s an element of narcissism to it as well, but that does not make it a bad thing. Gandhi, Mandela, Luther-King were all great men – but I can imagine that they all had a bit of a personality complex too. Gandhi beat his wife, but that does not mean that India shouldn’t have gained independence. Nothing is simple; life is a complex series of selfless and selfish events which sometimes resembles structure. If you were to criticise the #icebucketchallenge, criticise its self-indulgence, its self-congratulation, its self-righteousness, but after all of that criticism, the fact still remains that immeasurable amounts of money has been raised for organisations that are legally obliged not to make profit.
I am a cynical man; I believe that nationalism, religion and ‘culture’ are all hypnotic opiates used to distract us, take our money and then send us to an early grave. I believe this because I am insane but, also, because I read a lot of different things. And yet, despite my cynicism, I support the #icebucketchallenge, I have completed an #icebucketchallenge, and I know that the #icebucketchallenge is an inherently good thing. And this, all of this, is coming from a man who hates hashtags more than an arachnophobe hates Spider Stompin’.
Perhaps we could do better – perhaps we could find a way to raise money for non-profit organisations without using water. But don’t piss all over everything that has already been accomplished here. Don’t try and tell us that our fundraising is evil because we utilised 2 litres of water to do it. Have a look at your car, you food, your clothes, your house – your whole life depends on the use of water. Enter your details here, find out how much water you use very day, and get yourself some well needed perspective. The #icebucketchallenge may be crude in its means but, at its heart, is a very simple and awesome kind of humanity.