Dry Me a River
REANNE MACKENZIE is not convinced that a dryathlon is the best charitable feat we can muster…
January sucks. It is dark. It is cold. Christmas is over and it feels like forever until summer comes back. What is more, people are now being encouraged to give up alcohol and to be sponsored to do so in the name of charity.
An important caveat here is that I am not against charity. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe in people doing something challenging for sponsorship. There is a running theme in what I see as the commercialisation of charity. Each month has been wittily changed to make it into a charity or health event. There’s Stoptober, Movember and of course, Dry January during which people are encouraged to give up alcohol for a month and be “dry-athletes.”
There are many benefits to giving up alcohol, and I can completely understand wanting to start a new year by becoming healthier, being nicer to your body, and deciding to not drink a whole bottle of wine before Cindies every Wednesday.
However, I have a real issue when people expect to be sponsored for this. Giving up alcohol is not difficult. Even if you are a self-confessed booze-hound or love getting “sooooo smashed”, giving up alcohol (which makes you healthier, skinner, and richer) is not the sort of charitable challenge that deserves to be rewarded.
Do a triathlon, run a marathon, shave your head, cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats, do a tough mudder challenge: these are all worthy tasks that deserve sponsorship. If people are going to part with their cash they want to see some blood, sweat and tears. Better than that, why not donate your time to an old people’s home, or to a school for children with learning difficulties. Why should a dry-athlete be sponsored for doing something that is in their best interests? It would make much more sense for those giving up alcohol to donate the money they save to charity.
I know that selfless-altruism is an almost unobtainable goal. But Dry January is just so blatant in its motives. Giving up alcohol is not something you do because you are being genuinely charitable. You do it because you know you probably drink a bit too much and want to give your liver a break.
So go ahead and give up alcohol, or whatever it is you have too much of. Just don’t expect to be sponsored for it.