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Life Lessons From the Lottery 

by | Oct 24, 2018 | Formation, Reflections, Systemic change

The lottery stakes are high

The stakes are certainly high on the eve of a drawing for a prize of 1.6 billion dollars. By the time you read this someone may have won!

You would have to live under a rock not to be aware of lottery mania. However, it is not surprising that people with lots of dreams, not to mention necessities, would be willing to risk two dollars on beating truly astronomical odds.

As high as the stakes are, the odds of winning are beyond daunting. The reality is that only a very small group of people benefit. In one sense buying a lottery ticket is as rational as paying $1,000 a day for a device to prevent you from being hit by lightning.

Dream about what a billion dollars would buy

A prize of this magnitude calls for a new scale of thinking even allowing for the gigantic taxes. For example, if you were really dedicated, and could hand out $20 bills at the rate of one per second, you could spend $1 billion dollars in 578 days or almost 2 years. Of course, with a mega mistake or bet you could lose it all in a second!

But given the mania, I have been thinking about what I would do if I won the lottery? As a Vincentian, I believe it would go a long way to feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, giving all children an education, etc.

Imagine what Vincent or Louise might do if they suddenly were gifted with the equivalent of 1.6 billion dollars!

What would you spend your winnings on? Go ahead… let yourself dream a bit.

Lottery lessons and societal changes

Are there any life lessons from the lottery?

Let’s move beyond lotteries to the engine behind lotteries. First, there is the power of a dream. People are moved to action by dreams of a better life. Secondly, there is the power of so many people contributing to something that gives them hope.

Isn’t that what systemic change is about? Many people with a dream working together to produce something against the odds that will improve everyone’s life? However, unlike lotteries, in systemic change, the result is not dependent on chance. The results are dependent on imagination and commitment. Systemic change benefits everyone.

The currency or drivers of systemic change

  • Do I look around me and dream of a better world for all?
  • Do I judge what I see in the light of the gospel, especially the words “whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters…”?
  • Do I spend any of my energy working to build a kingdom of truth, justice and love?


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