It feels like every day there’s news about natural disasters and catastrophes causing upheaval, displacement and even worse, fatalities across the world. As we write this, Hurricane Irma, reportedly one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic is ripping through Caribbean islands, days after Hurricane Harvey caused mass devastation across Texas.

In the wake of the recent Hurricane Harvey, comedian and actor, Kevin Hart threw down the gauntlet to his fellow celebrities calling them out to show their sympathy by donating money to help victims. This challenge drew mixed responses among some big names. Do celebrities and those better off, have a moral obligation to publicly donate in cases of natural disasters?

After donating $25,000 to American Red Cross, Kevin took to Instagram to challenge the likes of Beyoncé, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to donate as much as they could to help Hurricane Harvey victims.

 

He said: “I’ve just been caught up to speed on everything that’s going on in Houston with Hurricane Harvey, and this s*** is unbelievable,” Hart declares in the video. “I think we’ve participated in a lot of challenges on the Internet — some meaningful, some meaningless, but we’ve all done ’em.”

 

“At this point, I’m going to start a real challenge. I’m challenging a lot of my celebrity friends to follow my lead in donating $25,000 to Hurricane Harvey — to the Red Cross. At this point, this a serious matter. I think that people are in bad shape and they need help.”

He called out a number of celebrities including Dwayne “The Rock” Chambers, Steve Harvey, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, Jay Z, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Jerry Seinfeld.

He added: “I think when you do it, you all should tag somebody else.”

While Kevin gained a lot of positive response from the likes of Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, DJ Khaled, the Kardashians and Chris Brown who were more than happy to take on his challenge and donate, others critiqued his approach.

Rapper Master P pointed out that by challenging his peers, Kevin is putting pressure on them, arguing that people are going to donate and help in ways that they can but shouldn’t be shamed into doing so.

“I’m blessed that Kevin Hart made a donation, but I feel like he don’t have to do that because it’s not necessary,” he said in a TMZ video. “It really don’t matter what it is as long as you’re giving from your heart so I don’t think you have to do that with other people, just let them give from their heart.”

Similarly, “The Rock” who accepted Kevin’s challenge stated in a video:

“Kevin Hart, you issued the Hurricane Harvey challenge. I appreciate you, brother. I just donated my $25,000 to the Red Cross, my companies are donating money,” he said. But he went on: “I’m not going to call out my celebrity friends. You guys already know what to do in terms of donating money.”

Of course, previous tragedies have seen celebrities come together, such as We Are The World 25 for Haiti during the country’s earthquake and Hurricane Katrina saw Jay Z and Diddy pledge $1 million to American Red Cross. No doubt, many others feel more comfortable about giving their contribution under the spotlight.

Celebrities have considerable influence on their fans and yes, their actions do have impact, but do they really have a moral obligation to publically donate when it comes to natural disasters?

We would argue, no. Shaming a person, directly or indirectly, into action is sending out the wrong message. Certainly, raising awareness of how to help is great, but publicly challenging someone to help is another thing. It’s all too easy to see the situation turn into a publicity stunt; We don’t know about you, but this would leave a bad taste, particularly in light of the seriousness of the tragedy.

We’re big fans of Kevin, and are sure his intentions were honorable, if nothing else, almost $1.5 million raised in eight days isn’t bad!

Our hearts and prayers are with all those who are suffering the effects of natural disasters.

 

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