It started with a #neknomination [well, let’s be honest – it likely started with a drunk Australian feeling like this was something he thought was a good idea for more people to do?]
an online video’d drinking challenge game where you “film themselves drinking a pint of an alcoholic beverage, usually beer, in one gulp and upload the footage to the web” [wikipedia] and then nominate two other people to do the same, paying it forward so to speak [where “it” was a silly drinking game that has caused the death of up to four different people so far] with the resulting nomination needing to take place within 24 hours.
then it hit South Africa and, in particular, a guy named Brent Lindeque who started out his #neknomination driving in his car and then turned the whole thing on his head by driving up to a guy begging on the side of the road and passing out a sandwich and a cooldrink to the man. the challenge was transformed into RAKnominations and South Africa responded in a big way by filming videos of themselves doing Random Acts of Kindness and challenging others to do the same.
inspired by my mate Howard Fyvie who went and sang to a group of senior citizens and handed out cake and had polaroid pics snapped with them and then being nominated myself by Jono van Deventer who Howie had passed it on to [after he paid for some random lady’s shopping and then serenaded her in Spanish at her car] i endured a hectically crazy busy day trying desperately to make my #neknomination happen to no avail until at 11.15pm i stumbled upon an idea that might work, filmed it and got it edited and uploaded by 7.45 the following morning with minutes to spare.
in my #neknomination that eventually happened, i had a brief conversation with a mate of mine, Richard Bolland, who had expressed some hesitation, particularly to the random and once-off nature of these acts of kindness, seeing them as a great start, but really feeling like if they just happened and were walked away from that maybe they were not the most helpful thing and how do we encourage people who are stepping up and doing great acts, but challenge them to get more deeply and long term involved to be agents of long-term real change?
MAKING A DIFFERENCE vs SIMPLY MAKING A VIDEO…
this morning i awoke to find two that seemed to have longer term effects at least so it feels like we are getting closer:
Ashton Hayes joined in and his #neknomination stepped it up a gear, inviting the whole of South Africa to get involved in rebuilding the burnt-down roof of a house for a woman who looks after 14 children in a local township.
South African fast food chicken join Nandos joined the #neknomination train by renovating the kitchen and dining area at the Sithandiwe Disabled Day Care Centre just outside the Alexandra township.
My friend Dave Gale shares some of his hesitations with the whole RAKnomination vibe:
My main concern with the RAKnominations that have arisen as morphed versions of the drinking dare Neknominations is about motivation. I’m not objecting to them or wanting to belittle the effort that people have gone to, just questioning what lies behind and drives the actions.
It’s a reaction to a public dare, so it naturally has elements of pride, fear and guilt as motivating factors. People are not so much called to act as they are driven.
Granted, it does force you out of your comfort zone, make you reach into your wallet, challenge your creativity and cause you to look someone less resourced in the eye while you bless them. But then, most likely you’re gone, back into your world, apart from ‘theirs’. If it changes you, causes you to linger in ‘their’ world, to get to know them, begin to share resources between you (who says it has to be only one-way traffic?), reduce that economic isolation gap between you, it is a whole different world.
The filming of it and publishing that film adds another dimension. You need it to prove you really did do something and have earned the right to dare someone else to keep it going. I understand that, but it feels a bit chain-letterish. Chain-videoish? There’s a new word for you. Matthew 2 comes to mind.
It should not be about you or anyone else other than the people you feel God is calling you to bless. It’s about relationship. It’s about resources God as father has placed in your hands. It’s about living in a manner as close as possible to what you’d imagine God would like his Kingdom to operate like.
So, a question I am asking myself of late is: “What does this kingdom of God look like and what is the commander’s objective in this whole kingdom-building deal?”
Best I stop criticising what others are doing, no matter what motivates them, and look to my own heart and actions. Common Change for me provides an opportunity to begin changing my world, need by need. [where Common Change is the non-profit organisation i, brett, work for where groups of people share resources to empower people in their groups to walk alongside and assist their friends who are in need]
God bless Brett, and keep challenging us to question our motives and live this kingdom life to the full.
I asked my mate Richard to write some thoughts on this:
“This week I have been sick with the flu. If I didn’t know any better I would walk to the medicine cabinet, pick 2 or 3 random bottles/pills and swallow them in the hope that it would cure me of my illness. Luckily I am wiser than that and have been taught which medicine to take or to visit a doctor and get a medicine prescribed to me.
We often view the poor in the same way and attempt to solve their problems without any knowledge of the consequences of our actions. We give diarrhea tablets to people with a cough and wonder why they’re not getting better or we give a panado to someone who’s broken an arm. Sometimes we even get offended when people correct us and in return shout: “But I gave them medicine, surely it helps in some small way!”. We don’t realize that sometimes we can be doing more harm than good or not solving the problem at all.
I’m hoping that my metaphor is working here and we see that we need knowledge before giving and if we don’t have that knowledge we need to seek it out. The ‘oath to compassionate service’ has really helped me gain that knowledge before giving out the “medicine”: We should never do for others what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves. We should limit one-way giving to emergency situations. We should seek ways to empower through employment, lending, and investing. We should put the interests of the poor above my own self-interest even when it means setting aside my own agenda. We should listen closely to those we seek to help. My hope is that if we follow this oath we would do no harm to the people we are trying to help. “
Richard then referenced the first South African #neknomination video of the guy handing the food to the man on the corner:
The idea of basically handing out food to anyone who seems poor with absolutely no intention to build relationship or understanding. Its a good example of something being very good on the outside, but potentially damaging with no long term help. It’s such a grey area because it makes me feel good watching that video. But we’ve got to ask ourselves how much good it does.
i don’t think Dave or Richard or myself are trying to slam people who have taken part in #neknominations [well except the drinking game people – stop being STUPID – you might be fine at it, but somewhere along the line you are going to challenge someone who isn’t and they will try and up yours and another person will be seriously injured or worse!] or at least the RAKnomination ones… but what we are saying is examine the motivation of the videos and the effect. even with something as amazing as helping rebuild a roof or fixing up the kitchen for a home – stay in contact, build relationship, look for where that person can help you , share stories, get invested and do whatever you do for a longer period of time.
let’s face it, at Common Change, which Dave referenced, we have a saying which goes something like this: It’s not that the rich and the poor don’t like each other, it’s that they don’t know each other. Get to know someone, hear their story and then suddenly you are not faced with random homeless guy, but Peter who is your friend. I tend to want to help my friends and walk journeys with them. Then we will start to see real change.
let’s face it – i am extremely proud that South Africans took a stupid drinking game and added life to it – the acts of kindness have been great, BUT it would be even so much greater if we were able to shift the momentum that has been grown through the RAKnominations and transform it into longer term acts of change that will benefit individuals, families and even whole communities… instead of a 24 hour timeline for creating a video, what if people started committing themselves to get involved volunteering for six months at a place of need in the community… and what if that spread?
i VFSMnominate you South Africa, let’s show the world one more time, that we can lead the way…
[i just watched this clip today which seems to be a lot closer to how these things can look – evidence of relationship already plus also partnering with an organisation that has long-term involvement and knowledge of the community and is made up of people living in the community – more of this please: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MfpfEgJQ_s]
updated 21 Feb: Here is an incredible clip by Shane Vermooten which gets to the heart of what I’m speaking about in terms of inspiring to long-term change and transformation – come on: