Thursday, September 4, 2014

By the numbers?

So. Back to the ALS ice bucket challenge one more time. Yes, I know I’ve written about this twice already but bear with me—I have more to say.

I’m seeing people post snarky poster photo dealies on Facebook that list the number deaths from ALS every year compared to the number who die from lack of access to clean water. No disrespect intended but so what? Is it a contest to find the cause with the greatest number of deaths? Is that how we should decide where we’ll put our charitable muscle or money to work?

Look, I get it that access to clean water is a huge issue around the world. I just don’t see the relationship between that and fund raising for ALS. What if I hadn’t poured my four cups of water, give or take a cup, over my head and donated $100 to ALS research? Would my not doing that have magically helped those living in drought-stricken areas? In fact, isn’t this an awfully lot like being told as a child that I should finish my dinner “because there are children starving in Africa?” How are these related?

Put it another way—what’s the price of a life? Was Spock right, and do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few . . . or the one? Must you have huge numbers of people who suffer from something in order for donating to that cause to somehow be worthy?

Two months before
Jordan was diagnosed
I donate primarily to two causes*. The first one is research for ALS. I do it because ALS has a face for me, the face of a man I never met. The second one is for research into finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. This kind of diabetes accounts for “only” about 5% of the total number of people with diabetes, and it too has a face—my older son. Neither illness gets nearly the funding for research that other diseases get; I will do what I can to help with both causes.

I don’t begrudge those who prefer to donate to causes like access to clean water around the world. Please do me the same courtesy.

*I periodically donate to a couple of other research causes but those are funded a lot better than these two, which is why I generally stick to the ones listed here. 


Claudia said...

There are so many things wrong in the world and so many good organizations helping to fix it. It's stupid to use one ailment to rag on another. Plenty to go around and we can't give to all of them. We have to pick and choose the causes with the greatest meaning to us. Ignore the dumb people.

Jeanne said...

Hear, hear. Also, you know better than most why I am so irritated when people complain that parts of the world lack much access to water. I get the 8-year-old's urge to say THEY CAN HAVE SOME OF MINE!!!