The Common Good

You Don't Have to Win the Mega Millions to Be Mega-Generous

This past weekend, millions of Americans crossed their fingers and tuned into the Mega Millions drawing, hoping that they would beat the odds and strike it rich. At my office, a pool was formed; I was the only one who opted out. Although it is good to dream, I did not want to waste my money on the slim odds. After the money was collected for the tickets, we went around the lunch table, and chatted about how we would all spend our Mega Millions. Nearly everyone mentioned giving away a significant chunk to charity.Of course, this is only the right thing to do, when one has so much money (their thought processes went).

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
A sign displays the $640 Mega Millions jackpot at Liquorland on March 30 in California. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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This got me thinking ... Does it take $640 million to make a difference? What does it say about us, Americans, who live in the world's richest country – that we view radical generosity as a “rich person thing” for a later time?

In fact, the rich aren't quite as generous as we hope or think. Comparatively,those who earn less than $25,000 per year gave more of their income away than those making $75,000. Furthermore, this rickshaw driver in Bangladesh (who saved money for 30 years to build a hospital, on a $6/day wage) puts us all to shame.

As Christians we are called to radical generosity, of our time, money, and resources. And as American Christians – we have been given much, so much will be expected of us.

So I challenge you – and myself as well – to examine what goes in and out of our checkbooks each month. Let us not put off generosity for when we hit it “big” – because the fact is, if you out-earn that rickshaw driver, we already have.

I am an avid believer in the power of the multiplier effect. It only takes $20 to provide clean water, for example, for one person for one year. And I think we could all afford to chip in that much, somewhere in our monthly budgets. U.S. population (3 million) x $20 = clean water for about 12 million villages.

Appropriately, this week is Holy Week, when Christians all around the world recognize Christ's ultimate sacrifice. In light of that sacrifice, let us reflect upon what we need to sacrifice in our own lives, on the behalf of others.

Gloria Shin is a graphic designer, aspiring social entrepreneur, and citizen activist. Gloria went to the Maryland Institute (BFA, Graphic Design) and Eastern University (MA, International Development); spent time working as a Fair Trade Designer in Bangladesh; and runs a freelance design company, gloriashindesigns.com.

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