Matt Damon finally accepted the ALS ice bucket challenge from friends Ben Affleck and Jimmy Kimmel, and added a dirty new twist. Damon has been one of the most notable figures to not respond to the challenge. He has finally found a way to pick up the gauntlet that satisfies his integrity. He doused himself in water straight from his toilet.
Monday, Aug. 25, Matt Damon performed the ice bucket challenge and delivered an important message by dumping toilet water on his head. In his video he claimed to have collected the water in his large red bucket from several toilets in his house. As he scooped water out of the bowl he reminded Americans that, lest they think it is disgusting, their toilet water is cleaner than the water most of the people in the world use every day. 800 million people do not have clean water to drink and 2.4 billion lack access to adequate water sanitation.
Damon co-founded water.org to help solve the crisis of unsanitary water. Its slogan is, “safe water and the dignity of a toilet for all.” According to the website, one billion people in the world still defecate in the open. Other facts listed focus on the disease and hardship caused by not having access to clean water. Women across the world spend 200 million hours each day collecting water for their families. Here in the United States the majority of women only need to walk a few steps and turn on the faucet. They rarely question the availability of clean, safe water in their homes. In many countries illness due to fecal matter in the water is still rampant. Again, with sanitation the U.S. has solved the problems of cholera and excessive diarrhea. These diseases killed many Americans during the 1800s; a fact that become apparent from reading Civil War death lists, but have since been nearly eradicated. Most shocking, every 21 seconds a child dies from a water-related illness. The lack of access to clean water undermines any sort of stability or growth for people in much of the world.
Knowing how precious a resource clean water is, Matt Damon felt it was wasteful to dump a bucket of it on his head. Others in California refused the challenge due to the prolonged drought that is wrecking havoc on California. Still others see the ice bucket challenge as a social media stunt. However, as of Monday the ALS association has received $79.7 million dollars from 1.7 million donors. More importantly, people are now aware of the devastating disease.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease that results in muscle atrophy and eventually the inability to breathe. Most patients die within three to five years of diagnosis. The ice bucket challenge has shed light on the illness as well as raised funds to assist patients with care, and to search for a cure. It is impossible to predict how long the campaign will continue until it runs out of steam and the charitable donations dry up but it has provided a much needed boost to the ALS Association.
Matt Damon wanted to do his part to support ALS funding and knowledge. He was ethically conflicted due to his work with clean water and sanitation. By dumping “unsanitary” water on himself he killed two birds with one stone. He kept the ice bucket chain going for ALS but also brought attention to the cause near and dear to his heart. Lack of access to clean water is a global crisis. The unavailability of sanitation and safe water kills more people than any war with weapons. The United Nations recently declared the Right to Water to be “indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.” Clean water improves health and leads to advancements in education and economic opportunity.
Damon passed the challenge on to George Clooney, Bono and Tom Brady. He did not mention the dirty toilet water, but he has upped the ante for the challenge. Matt Damon added a new twist by dumping toilet water on his head to raise awareness for clean drinking water along with ALS. Will water.org get a flood of donations as a result?
By: Rebecca Savastio