By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
I’ve received several ALS “ice bucket challenges” in recent days, Save Jerseyans, and I don’t fault a single one of my friends out there in the social media digital ether for it. Thank you for trying to include me. Sincerely.
Please don’t think I’m unappreciative of what my fellow humans are trying to accomplish out there. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is an insidious neurodegenerative disease affecting everything from speech and swallowing to basic mobility. Experts estimate that 30,000 Americans suffer from the disease. It’s as fine a focus of #hashtagactivism as any.
But I can’t accept the challenge. I hope you’ll understand why.
It’s not because I’m afraid of cold water.
My concern is where the money might go. Hint: what KIND of research would be financed by my hypothetical promotional activity, either directly with my cash or through other donations made possible through my advocacy.
You need to understand where I’m coming from outside of the context of this viral phenomenon. Many of you are coming from the exact same place. At the core of my personal belief system is the notion that no life is intrinsically worth more than another life. We’re not born “equal” in the sense that we’re all able to run equally fast, or complete math problems equally well, or even love one another with same level of selfless intensity. We are born with an equal share of God’s perfect love and, on a related and highly-relevant note for this instant discussion, equal entitlement to natural rights. Life, liberty, and property… the building blocks of our American constitutionally-enshrined experiment.
So when I found this nugget on the ALS.org website, I had to seriously rethink my initial inclination to grab an ice bucket and dump it on my head for charity:
“Adult stem cell research is important and should be done alongside embryonic stem cell research as both will provide valuable insights. Only through exploration of all types of stem cell research will scientists find the most efficient and effective ways to treat diseases.” [Emphasis added.]
Yikes. How disappointing is that?
While 30,000 souls battle the cruel symptoms of ALS in this country at any given time, our nation also plays host to approximately 17 abortions for every 1,000 U.S. women on an annual basis.
My conscience is feeling more than a little strained at this point. How can I donate money, or ask YOU out there in Save Jersey Land to donate your hard-earned money during these tough economic times when plenty of cash-starved worthy charities are vying for our limited resources, when this particular organization thinks infanticide is a legitimate way to save other human beings?
I can’t. I won’t. That’d be sending the wrong message no matter how noble our intentions might be.
Yet given the challenges facing so many dealing with ALS, and my understandable desire not to be rude to the folks who mentioned me in their YouTube ice bucket videos, I might’ve still been able to look past this one particular organization’s regrettable ethics IF I hadn’t seen evidence that it was redirecting donated dollars towards ghoulish embryonic projects. Then I found a LifeNews.com article relaying how ALS.org gave big money – reportedly $500,000 – to an organization that has run a clinical trial with embryonic stem cells.
Sorry, ALS.org: Soylent Green is people.
Now, I don’t believe in throwing my hands up and checking out either. Heck no. ALS-afflicted citizens deserve our support. Other pro-life bloggers are researching ALS research alternatives to ALS.org and I encourage each of you to do so.
This is also an opportune time to do a gut check of sorts. We should all put the buckets down for 5 minutes and consider the effect that social media activism is having on our culture – and ourselves as actors in it. As a political blogger with plenty to say, I very much believe in this medium’s capacity for acting as a vehicle for good, yet I also recognize how instant-connectivity is a double-edged sword, making it much easier for a “herd mentality” to develop. Which is all fine and good when the herd is headed in the correct direction, right?
But peer pressure blows perspective out of the water as we race to belong without first stepping back and considering each and every dimension before clicking “like” or share. How many of you stopped and investigated HOW your money would be spent before emptying the ice cube trays? Exactly. You shouldn’t feel bad about it! That’s not my point. You should feel a little weird and more than a little prone towards caution in the future.
So don’t look at this as a call for inaction, Save Jerseyans. I’m asking you to be as active as ever and creative, too; what we’re looking for is a higher level of self-awareness the next time a Facebook buddy tags you with the best of intentions.