last night i watched 'secret millionaire' - a show that takes millionaires and sets them down in the midst of urban poverty to meet the people and see what life is like without the cushion of their money, and ends with the millionaire giving away "at least $100 000 of their own money". it was actually quite beautiful. the couple last night was sent to watts - one of the scariest neighborhoods in la. but the perspective shown of the community the rich couple moved into was not "woe is them" but rather one of a community that has pockets of folks that really look out for one another, because they have to. people who know each others names and stories. at the end the man gave $50 000 to 3 community run projects - one for at risk youth, one for women who lost family members to violence and one for women who are returning to life after prison. no doubt those gifts will go a long way to extend the reach and the ability of the organizations to help their community. and watching the emotion of both the giver and the recipient was moving. but in the end, the rich couple returns to their mansion, and the poor families are left in watts. and i was left wondering what the impact of this will be 3 months or 5 years from now. i wonder if the man in the mansion will slowly forget, sleeing with his guilt assauged - or was he truly transformed, and will be living with an eye toward how he can use his money to help?
i was left wishing i had the money to do something grand like that... but then i was reminded that writing a check is the easiest part. what would really be something would be if that rich couple went back every week to volunteer for one of those groups, or just to have dinner with friends they made there. and that's where we - the nonmillionairres of the world - have so much to give. our time, our attention, our listening, our labour, our love... if you've got money to spare, giving it is the easy part. giving yourself, on the other hand, that's a whole new ball game.
and the longer i thought about it, i had to admit that i exempt myself from various opportunities to "help" because i can't write the check. but i could offer something more valuable than money. myself.
i recommend 'secret millionaire' actually. i liked it. but don't get hung up on the money. at the risk of sounding cliche, "what the world needs now... is love... sweet love..."