Do you let yourself daydream about what you would have done had you held the $425 million Powerball ticket a couple weeks ago? I did. Not that I devoted a lot of RAM or my working hours to it, but, y’know, as I was falling asleep, or waiting at red lights, I’d let my mind wander.
It’s funny. Once upon a time, idle fantasies like that would run to things like opening up a sports bar, or buying a baseball team, or my own personal helicopter. But a funny thing happened this time. All my thoughts went a different direction — they went to my nephew who has cystic fibrosis, or to my good friend who has Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or to my daughter’s best friend, who has a very rare blood disorder. $425 million pays for a lot of research and/or medical bills.
I don’t tell you this to make myself look good — I think many of us dream of being in a position to do great things.
And, make no mistake, I still want to own a baseball team.
But the reality is that very few of us have unlimited resources to do great things. And, frankly, those who actually are in a position to do great things have been made to feel so guilty about their success and shame for their plenty over the last few years that, were I in that position, I would take my wealth and hide away, far from the eyes of men.
And it isn’t just wanting the massive resources to do good. The near collapse of the economy six years ago, and the ongoing struggle for it to gain any traction beyond stagnation, have left too many with such a small margin that it’s hard to even be in a position to help out in small ways. That kind of thing has an impact on our sense of community — in just the last two months, two of my daughter’s other friends have moved out of state because their parents had to go where a job was, there being none around here.
However, I was reminded the other night that it doesn’t take great resources to make a difference. And, strangely, that reminder came from children’s movie — which, like all good children’s movies, is not really a children’s movie. Buried in one of the songs in “The Prince of Egypt” (music and lyrics by the incomparable Stephen Schwartz) is this line:
“That’s why we share all we have with you, though there’s little to be found,
When all you have is nothing, there’s a lot to go around.”
It doesn’t take great resources to do GOOD things. It doesn’t take a fancy car to offer a neighbor’s child a ride home; or unlimited credit to help an elderly person get carry their groceries to their car; it doesn’t take a trip to Starbuck’s to bring a friend a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning.
We may not have the glut of disposable income that we’d become accustomed to for most of the last 30 years, and we’ve probably developed some bad habits that make it harder to deal with that. But I don’t think we should let that become an impediment to making the world a better place in very specific, small ways.
So if you, like me, are given to making a change during this season of Lent, try small things that make other people’s lives better in small ways. Because, as the song says:
“How do you measure the worth of a man? By what he builds or buys?
You can never see with your eyes on earth — look through Heaven’s eyes.”