Okay, here's the thing.
I was totally going to write about revising, but I am tired of people judging other people when they don't know their stories.
For example, there is a lot of judging about the ALS ice-bucket challenge, where people are called out to give $100 to support efforts to negate ALS. Instead, they can dump ice water over their heads and give $10 instead, while calling out other people to do the challenge, thus spreading it all around social media.
And now there are a bunch of people saying that the challenge is:
1. Ridiculous (They use stronger words usually)
2. Doing nothing to raise money or awareness of ALS despite news reports to the contrary
3. Just a bunch of sheeple, which means people who are followers, people who are sheep, people who are doing something just because they think it's cool or because all their friends are doing it. Hashtag activism means nothing they say, because trends come and go.
So, yeah, basically something that involves caring and awareness is cool so now we have to deride it. The thing is that humans are followers and leaders. We are all sorts of things mushed into bodies and communities. That's the key. This challenge, even for the people who don't send $10 to ALS, builds community. People reach out to one another. They post. They think for a second. Maybe some don't. But a lot do.
If even one person thinks a little about ALS, or sends in $10, or inspires, or motivates? Isn't that better than nobody doing it? Maybe half of the people doing the ice bucket challenge aren't sending in money, maybe it's more than half. But, it is still raising awareness and money if it gets anyone to volunteer, to care, to donate.
And the other aspect of the derision that I find unhelpful is the concept that people are being called sheep for doing this one thing, this one potentially positive thing (despite its waste of water, a precious resource). How can a random viewer possibly judge another person's sheep status because they were involved in one social-media, celebrity-endorsed fundraiser?
So, I looked at my newsfeed on Facebook and scrolled down. The first ice bucket video I saw tonight was of a fire chief and his bonus daughter.
That fire chief? Hardly a sheep. This ice-bucket challenge? Hardly the hardest thing he's done for this community. He coaches kids' football. He helps raise funds for Dana Farber, his very job is about putting his life on the line for people when he fights fires, responds to accidents or mass casualty incidents. And those are only a few things I know about him.
His bonus daughter? She's still in high school, but she helps her mom raise money for cancer. She cares about kids, volunteers for things all the time, and has empathy up the wazoo.
They aren't sheep.
They are people who care.
I'm actually not sure the fire chief knows what a hashtag is; let alone hashtag activism.
But their activism isn't just about ALS. Their activism is a part of their lives. They don't yell it out on bullhorns. There are some things that they expend more energy on, but they give and they give and they give.
The next ice bucket challenge on my feed was another local guy, a Rotarian, carpenter, and real estate agent. A guy who loves the Marvel Universe and his community and who can strike a pose whenever the camera is nearby. I think he's maybe 30? 35? In the year I've known him, I've seen him dress up like Prince Charming to help raise money for a wheelchair project in Panama, spearhead a mini-golf tournament to help raise money for local health agencies, cash-out tourists eating lobsters at a seafood festival, feed bicyclists who were riding to raise money for another incurable disease.
But yeah. He's a sheep, right? A hashtag activist? Just giving up his nights and his Saturdays while scraping together a living because he's all in it for show? Hardly.
And these are just the big things those people do, the obvious volunteering. I'm not even talking about the countless times they smiled, or cared, or offered a ride, or a hug, or a job. These are the tiny moments of activism that never get shouted about. They just are.
That's the point. Don't judge someone's level of caring or action from one tiny video on the internet. Don't judge their intentions when you aren't in their brains. Instead, maybe search your own heart and be grateful that they did anything. Instead, maybe hope that they did more than that video or profile picture change or tweet. Or even better? Don't judge them at all. Instead realize that we all have our own levels of caring, of ability, of time.
Yes, it can be annoying to watch everyone you know dump ice over their heads. But here's another thing: You don't actually have to watch. You can ignore it if you want to. And, yes, you can even deride it and mock it and say that it isn't doing enough. That's your choice. However, I hope that you choose to look at people (with all their issues) with love instead of with snark. I hope that you choose to be an example with your own life rather than a naysayer about others.
Remember, we don't know everyone's stories, not all of the scenes and chapters. That's why we should be grateful for the things that try, the people that try, no matter how imperfect their execution, or how 'sheepish' it seems.
Because here's the final point. You're sort of right. None of us can ever do enough. But that should never be an excuse to not do anything, or judge others for what they can do and have done.
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