Monday, November 06, 2006

If I Won the Lottery

I just completed the following assignment for my new class:

You just won the Sucker's Lottery, and will receive a payment of $100,000 a year for the next thirty years. The catch can only collect the money if you volunteer to work somewhere 40 hours a week. Where would you choose to work, and why?

This is what I wrote:

If I won a lottery that guaranteed me $100,000 a year for thirty years so long as I did "volunteer work" somewhere for forty hours a week, my wife and I would immediately move to Thailand and live extremely comfortably on that kind of money. There, if possible, I would work many of those forty hours per week publishing a website that explored the integration of philosophy, religion, science, and other disciplines in ways designed to entertain, enrich, uplift, and maybe even enlighten my readers as well as myself.

If it sounds presumptuous of me to imply that I could benefit anyone by "working" at writing articles on the Internet in place of more traditional labors, I would suggest that perhaps the best thing we can do for others, if we can afford to, is follow the late, great mythologist Joseph Campbell's advice and "follow your bliss." For when we are genuinely happy with our own lives by doing our best at what we love most and do best, we can inspire others to follow our example as fully as they are able. And if what we do best is communicate in speech or writing our passion for engagement with life, deep inquiry, and transcendent wisdom, that is proverbial icing on the cake. I believe that any volunteer work I might do should help others in some way, and I can think of no better way for me to help others than to do what I've just described.

However, I would also want to devote some of my forty hours per week to helping poor people in whatever ways I could. Perhaps I could teach English to adults and children or help distribute food, clothing, and other necessities to them. And If I had or acquired any other skills beyond the meager ones I possess now, I could teach or share them as well. I'm sure that between this and maintaining my website, I would have no trouble keeping busy for at least forty hours per week doing things that could make a positive difference, however modest, in this world. And I can think of nothing better to do with the rest of my life than that.

Now all I need to do is find a lottery and a way to win it that offers the same prize as the "sucker lottery" in this exercise.

What would YOU do if YOU won the lottery?

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