I lost the audience’s attention in about two minutes. Usually, as a speaker, I can keep it for a bit longer than that, but his audience folded their arms and checked their watches. On the long drive home, I pondered what I had done wrong. I was trying to get them to help me feed starving people and showed them photos of emaciated faces and distended bellies of children and adults, but they didn’t seem to care. I finally figured it out; I was giving them a problem, but the only solution I gave them was to donate money. They were in a poor area and had no money. They needed a different option; they wanted to do something practical. They cared very deeply; they just wanted another option. The recent Ice Bucket Challenge is evidence that people care, they just want other options.
My Facebook feed is a reminder that people want to do something practical to end suffering. More than just write a check to a charity, people want to do something about the problems of this world. We want new options.
Short videos are posted of people either self-dumping or having friends dump a bucketful, a trash-can-full, even a front-end-loader-bucket full of water over them. It’s the rage and I’ve been challenged, too. It’s a hundred and four degrees in Kansas these days so that water felt good.
We are so bombarded with horrible images of suffering, war, disease, pain, hunger, tragedy, and Justin Bieber being stupid, that we can be overwhelmed with life’s miseries. The Ice Bucket Challenge steps is an activity that gives me, the average guy, something fun, socially engaging, and practical that I can do to feel like I’m actually doing something to eliminate the disease.
Years ago, after I decided to engage in the fight against hunger, I faced the challenge of trying to get people passionate about the cause. On one of my trips to Nicaragua, I discovered a bag of food that had been packaged in the U.S. by volunteers. Finally! There was something practical people could do to fight hunger! I was fascinated so I called the founder of the organization –Lyle Mullins – and flew to West Virginia to watch my very first meal-packaging event. I was hooked. I asked him what I needed to do get set up and he told me to call Floyd Hammer with Outreach, Inc., in Iowa. Since then, I’ve watched literally hundreds of thousands of people do something practical and fun at meal-packagings to end hunger and they love it.
Every charitable organization in America wishes they had come up with the idea of dumping a bucket of cold water over someone’s head. People who work in charities sometimes feel like beggars asking for money from donors, but the Ice Bucket Challenge is proof that donors want more; they want to do something practical to make the world a better place.
Excuse me; I have to go clean up the mess I made.
What other ways of practical engagement have you seen or participated in that helped people make the world a better place?
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The photo used in the heading was purchased at istock.