First of all, I never wish ill to anyone on their good fortune. (I make a point of saying this, because I know a lot of people who seem unable to be happy even for family and friends who have something positive happen to them. To the contrary, I believe it best to make every effort to feel pleased for others, whether I know them or not. I don't find it hard to be happy for people, even strangers.)
But I have to say my first reaction to seeing a report on the Oregon Powerball winning family was a less-than-supportive-one. (smile) I'm going to explain why, but you all know how long-winded I am. So bear with me!
Marilyn mistressmarilyn and I have bought lottery tickets over the years, never spending very much -- and never really expecting to win, of course. We know the odds as well as anyone, but we've always called the expense buying a 'dream ticket.'
By that we mean for that period of time we have the lottery ticket in our hand -- right until we hear that a winner has been announced -- we can DREAM about winning all we want!
The first and foremost DREAM we both have always shared is one concerning the good we'd be able to do for others -- should we be lucky enough to win some big lottery sum.
In recent years as we've watched the financial struggles of the Portland Rose Festival Association, we've said how we'd happily bail out the PRFA -- and make sure they never needed to worry about going under again.
We've talked about several organizations dear to our hearts that we'd support, like the Friends of Vista House, the Friends of Champoeg Park and Oregon's Wildlife Safari. (These, and so many more.) Sure, we're already members of the places I just listed -- and already do what we can to be supportive -- but think how much more we could help out if we had the money!
We've talked about starting our own Foundation, which could provide for various charities and non-profits. We've thought how nice it might be to name it in honor of our deceased parents, two people who also cared a lot about sharing with others. Our Dad was the type of friend who'd give you the shirt off his back, even if it meant his own family went hungry. And Mom? When things got really bad trying to support her in the last year of her life, one of her largest regrets was being unable to send money to the various charities she'd always helped out.
Don't get me wrong. We also think how it could bail out our sister, Sue, who went through bankruptcy and is in desperate need of aid. We think of others close to us that we could provide for, too, like our cousin Linda and some of our dearest friends.
And, yeah, we think of those more frivilous ways we'd spend the money -- on traveling and fun. We'd love to pay off our bills and the house, of course. (Who wouldn't?) But these are never the first things on our list. Seriously.
For the record, we both champion volunteerism. We support those who need a voice -- like those elderly people reliant on a system that devalues them and makes it next to impossible for them to live meaningful lives. (The nursing homes in our city are a joke -- and quite expensive, to boot.)
We have some excellent local resources for the homeless, and have always tried to be supportive of these. We've seen it up close, with family and friends who've been in homeless shelters. And the amazing work of the Portland Transition School (for homeless children). We're animal lovers, so we've given a lot to various animal-related non-profits, too.
I could go on and on listing every group -- large and small -- that we've talked about helping. Most of these we've tried to give to in small ways, true. But we've discussed how much good a person could do with real money -- large sums. Those are big dreams -- good ones! They make me smile to write about them.
Hell, I love my house. I don't need a mansion to be happy. Or even new furniture and a refridgerator that actually works. (grin) It's okay if my bathroom is old, and currently without a shower curtain. It's fine if the car leaks water on our feet -- it still gets us where we need to go, after all! Plenty of people have to rely on public transportation, so I know when I'm well off. And we don't ever go hungry. We have more than our fair share of the good things in life, even if our bills are looming.
You know, I have a wonderful sister in Marilyn -- a person who VOLUNTEERED to take a 10% pay cut on her job in order to help out the non-profit she works for, and to be able to keep on one of the people who was going to be laid off. I'm proud of her. Yes, it means we'll have less money coming in every month to live on, but that's okay. She still has a good job that pays well. We'll be fine!
No, I don't think our lottery dreams are all that different from those of many people. But I guess I'm shocked by how often people win large sums of money and never make even a mention of the contributions they plan to make.
Yeah, it's fine that they'll get that sports car or new home. Good for them! But can't they even say they'll send some money to the victims of Hurricane Katrina? Or that they'll make a donation to some established and worthy charity?
All I'm saying is that in our house it's 'not all about me.' I'd just like to think that's true for everyone... Am I naive? Probably.
Oh well. We'll keep on buying lottery tickets every now and then. (When we can work it into the budget, of course. We're not crazy, after all!) And we'll keep on DREAMING about the good we could do.
And though the new winners of the largest single jackpot ever didn't mention anything like this, hopefully they'll manage to be generous.
I think I'll just believe that, for now.
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