The Ice Bucket Challenge and the Cynic

Cynic: a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do; especially : a person who believes that people are selfish and are only interested in helping themselves

Pessimist: 1.an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome 2a.the doctrine that reality is essentially evil 2b.the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness in life

Hypocrite: a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs

It is so much easier to become a hypocrite when you are a Christian, than opposed to if you were, say, a Satanist. I battle my hypocritical tendencies constantly; analyzing what I say and do, trying to figure if they are in conflict with what I’ve said or done previously or at odds with the Christian life or expectations therein. I mean, it’s a constant battle between your self and who you truly are.

My friend, the Satanist, (I’ve told you about him, here, here and a little bit here) doesn’t  have to worry about being a hypocrite. I couldn’t guarantee the thought here, but it probably is a virtue to be hypocritical in the Satanist’s belief.

I enjoyed watching the classic television show The Addams Family, but was constantly confused by aspect of them enjoying the darker side of life while displaying attributes of loyalty, hospitality, friendship, patience; you know those things that are generally seen as positive or “lighter”. It was all so hypocritical and I couldn’t assimilate those conflicting behaviors in my young mind.

I still enjoy the “darker” things in life, such as reading horror novels or watching The Addams Family or listening to music that isn’t generally accepted by mainstream Christianity. I don’t think that makes me hypocritical, but some would disagree.

Which brings me to the point I have here. It all started with this whole “Ice Bucket Challenge.” In the early days of this summer I saw a few of these videos and it quickly reached a crescendo a few weeks ago. (Incidentally, I consider myself a sort of pop culture maven and will begin writing more analysis and thoughts here.) I found the videos fine and never really considered the typical/unpopular goofball such as myself to be challenged to do it. After all, these were cultural icons who were making a fool of themselves all for a good cause. Now don’t get me wrong, they aren’t fools for doing this, but allowing them to look the fool, being wet and cold and in some ways vulnerable, eventually brought about the idea of ALS to the forefront of international debate. It worked! Granted there are much more important causes to educate the world about; slavery, feeding the starving. But, that is just my opinion. Apparently this has raised over $40 million. These superstars are one upping each other on the creativity factor of which they can relate to the common man. This is now, officially, a cultural phenomenon. Even at my work’s social network site, they have a page dedicated to people dumping ice water all over themselves. Fortunately, I, nor my team, have been challenged yet because we are so far away from any corporate office that we are always forgotten. Always.

Then my brother challenged me. His boys dumped the bucket on his head and they had a lot of fun. I initially rejected the idea to do it, but thought that I could make some sort of statement and have my kids have fun with it at the same time. I wanted to say that who follows up with all these people who don’t accept the challenge. Is there some ALS Ice Bucket Police force making sure you get your donation in for not humiliating yourself. I saw the Super-Star as relating and us, and we, just humiliating ourselves. It needed to be more than just me dumping ice on my head. So, I did it and found myself forgetting all the things I wanted to say.

Sure, it was ridiculous and I knew that my participation in it would have the effect of nil or negative nil on the cause (that I necessarily didn’t care anything about), but my kids had fun and my wife even smiled about it. I posted it on that one site. I wasn’t going to keep it up long as I knew those I challenged would probably do nothing about it, (which was true) and it was just something that was a flash in the pan for me.

The next day my Satanic friend posts:

“I was going to ask someone what all this stuff about dumping water on people was about, but then, like an offensive Fbook post, I decided against it, as I don’t care. I reached this decision after concluding that humans are being led around like mindless sheep (as per usual), but probably never so bad as it is these days.”

Him and I agreed on one major point in High School: People Suck. This is what kept us together, our mutual feelings of how much better we were than everyone else. Nobody’s opinion mattered above our own. Since then, I believe I’ve grown the wiser in trying to understand people’s motivations and beliefs. Although there IS a lot of right actions with altruistic beginnings, people are still fallible and will make wrong choices even when they think they are right. I do believe we are all sheep. All of us. We have our own flock and do things for our flocks approval. He doesn’t realize the choices he makes are because of who he is, which is a series of experiences and related thoughts and actions he took because of them. He believes himself unique in his ideas and doesn’t realize that all those people agreeing with him are his flock and he is the mindless one seeking approval. I, wanting to answer, began typing something to this effect in the comments, but I didn’t want to start something that would never be finished. So I posted a general post regarding my thoughts on sheep and our sheeplike behavior. My Satanic friend then posts a huge rant about all these other problems in this world and how all these people think it is Obama’s fault, and how he never bashes religion, but makes scathing comments. It was basically our back and forth jibes at one another.

Then I see my brother-in-law going off on people who are dissing those who are taking the ice bucket challenge. And yet someone else as well. Who knew that dumping water on your head could cause such division and rants!? I deleted all the applicable posts and cemented the idea to get rid of my FB, that I’ve been toying with for a while.

My friend believes that being a mindless sheep is getting more prevalent these days, but he doesn’t consider division through this social media and snippets of news feeding the fire, as the main culprit for our increasing sheepiness. We need to read full articles. We need to consider differing opinions, (not meaning being so open-minded that we accept everything). We need to ask each other “Why?” in a sincere, inquisitive way. We need to stop being so offended and defensive. But, alas my pessimistic side believes that this will never get better, only worse.

After all this rigmarole, I posted this:

“Visited a youth group tonight that a friend is heading up and I enjoyed the discussion leading to seeking out Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), and how that ties into the purposes of our life. Like a lot of the churches around here, most of the kids are bused in and are there mostly to socialize. My eldest daughter came with me and told me after, that it is hard to believe that she could relate to these other young adults. She is shy around new people, much like me, and those kids are brash, loud and seemingly overconfident. I told her that their behavior is an indication that deep down they are probably scared and uncertain. I went on to explain that most of these kids probably don’t have many good role models or possibly parents or even people who care. We can’t believe things about people by just what they choose to reveal to the world. We can’t think we understand who they are by what they do among their peers. Then I went off on a rant about how sad this world has become because we believe things about others without knowing them, and feel our anger, resentment and/or violence is justified because of how much we suffered in the past or our people suffered hundreds of years ago. Then we assume we could control ourselves in that situation and suddenly realize that we have never been in their shoes so how can we understand. “Some men just want to watch the world burn,” goes off in my head. Maybe all people don’t want to be understood, at least by those who aren’t a part of their group. I see those kids, and I pray for them that they will gain knowledge of who they are, what gifts they’ve been given, and think about life, and the world and their purpose in it. That is where I am the optimist. I believe that you can reach those kids through love and connections of a transcendent nature, seeing that the world is beyond them. But then I see the world and how we aren’t getting any better, so what hope do they have when we can just sit back and watch it all come crashing down. My optimism wanes… but in their eyes you see some connections being made, ideas being sprung, and there is hope. Love your kids, find those who don’t have a mother or a father. Be those people who care, bring hope into their eyes. Change the future for them. We can provide hope with an outstretched hand. We can provide hope with laughter or a tear. I see nothing new about what is happening in this world, but those kids are new, and we can make a difference.”

In all this, I wonder about cynicism, pessimism, and hypocrites. Although in many ways I am a pessimist, I realize that I am not a cynic; thank goodness. But the majority of pessimists are turning to cynicism, and that is what is dividing us. Find out people’s motivations, make your world a little more closer. A little more friendly perhaps?

~Stranger

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Posted on August 23, 2014, in Pop Culture Scrutinizations and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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