Bucket-of-ice selfies may be cool but here's a more chilling appeal

The Rev Jane Sherwood

The Rev Jane Sherwood

First published in News

Lately on Facebook there has been a viral trend to nominate a friend who then has to film themselves having a bucket of ice thrown over them, then donate to charity. I have to confess it has been driving me slightly crazy.

While it may be a good way to raise money for different causes, it says a lot about the ‘selfie’ culture, where people feel the need to draw attention to themselves and their bravado, rather than just to quietly give some money to a particular need.

Also it says a lot about the reality of peer pressure, particularly among young people – ‘You must do this within 24 hours or you are not one of us’.

A rather chilling twist on the ice bucket challenge appeared on social media recently, where some Palestinians have posted photos of themselves pouring a bucket of rubble over their heads, to raise awareness of their despair.

This is a poignant reminder of the reality for many in the world who live in war-torn parts of the world suffering unthinkable daily hardship, cruelty and violence. Palestinians certainly have no access to iced water. All they have is the dust of the ground.

“In Gaza we don't have water and when we have water, we can't make ice since the electricity is off most of the time,” writes Gaza resident Abu Yazan, alongside a video he uploaded to Facebook. “So my cousin Hafiz, [my] nephew Khalid and I used remains of a destroyed house to participate in this challenge.”

Jesus had something to say about how we give in Matthew 6: 2-4: “When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets [or ice buckets!] as the hypocrites do... Instead do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so your giving may be in secret. Then your Father in heaven, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Perhaps the real challenge that faces us today is not to endure a drenching from a bucket laden with ice cubes, then watch the ‘likes’ for the video build up on Facebook , but to act in a way that draws attention away from ourselves towards the unseen people out there suffering persecution, torture, poverty and death.

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