If I Had a Million Dollars

I’ve been thinking lately about what I would do if I suddenly had all the riches I hope to have someday. Reading Nibley’s “Approaching Zion” is powerfully condemning of wealth-seeking. But he does acknowledge the window left us by Jacob, who said that after we’ve obtained a hope in Christ, we’ll find riches if we seek them, and we’ll seek them to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc.

Well, I’ve always TOLD myself that’s why I want wealth — money can be leveraged for good or for evil, and the more money you have, the more leverage you have. I don’t think I’ll ever own a Dodge Viper or a Ferrari or anything like that, because I won’t be able to justify the expenditure — sure, it’s my money, but shouldn’t I find a way to share it with the disadvantaged? I’ve been given meals by people living in tin-and-cardboard homes. Could I really ignore their plight so I could have a really fun car?

That extends into a lot of purchases, and it gets difficult to find a firm line, so we consider stuff prayerfully. (Except with the recent purchase of a dining room table. It’s beautiful, it matches our imagined design perfectly, but it’s 10 times more expensive than a Costco-style dining set. I wasn’t thinking very well; it was definitely an impulse-buy. It bugs me to see it sometimes. But whatever.) The answers we felt kept us from splurging on a high-def plasma TV, for one thing.

(I’m not trying to trumpet my generosity, here — I’m NOT generous. But I do WANT to be generous.)

But back to having wealth. Clearly the answer to how-to-spend-this-windfall is not to tear down my barns and build bigger ones. (What’s the origin of the phrase windfall? I’m too lazy to switch windows and Google it.) But what would I do? If I’m serious about helping others, where would I put the money?

I’d probably pay off my house; getting out of debt seems perfectly all right. But I still have plenty left.

The answer is… tricky. I mean, I don’t have what I consider THE answer, but what I’ve been thinking is this — I need more than a million.

What I want to do is create uplifting, Gospel-value-centered entertainment. I’d like to preach the Gospel from the spotlight — not because I want the spotlight on me, but because it’s a vantage point of greater reach. (I DO want the spotlight on me — I have plenty of pride to eschew — but I’ve always wanted it so that I could have more leverage to help others. I’m pretty sure I’m being totally honest with myself when I say that.)

Now, perhaps entertainment seems of paltry importance when weighed against world hunger and poverty… and maybe it is… but consider: if the entertainment could teach people how to help stop world hunger and poverty, how valuable is it?

Teach a man to fish, or give him a fish… What I’m thinking of is more like setting up The Fishing Institute, where would-be fishing-teachers go to learn how to fish.

The problem with the give-a-fish/teach-to-fish phrase, I’ve noticed, is that while you’re teaching the man to fish, he might die of starvation. Some fish-giving has to happen.

I don’t think I can just start saving up for the day when I can produce my own pilot episode and hope it gets picked up — which would cost me roughly $1 million, say — because there are people who need fish now. (Man, I hate fish. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a long, unpleasant lifetime.)

I’m rambling, can you tell?

Like I said before, though — I don’t think I have an answer. Just the thought comes to me that what *I* want to achieve will require more money than I see coming in any one windfall, and in the meantime I need to keep giving to other charities as I see fit.

Maybe the answer is that what I achieve in terms of fish-education-or-donation is not really up to me.

In the meantime, however, I’m still gonna keep seeking riches. Maybe if I had a Ferrari and a HDTV I could entertain some well-to-do investors to discuss my Fishing Institute ideas….