When I was tagged by Abbie yesterday, I thought the hardest question was the one that asked what I would do if I had a billion dollars. I actually couldn't think about that amount of money; in fact, a million dollars is difficult for me to think about.
When I was talking about this with my husband and daughter, they were equally stumped. There were certain needs we saw within our family that were not huge, but could be relieved, and give some people peace of mind. We all agreed that we had been silently wishing we could solve those little material problems for people we loved. There was very little we could think of for ourselves. We came up with a few charities we would like to support. Then we ran out of gas. The number billion was too big.
My daughter asked if we would stay in our current house. Good question. It needs work. It's on a busy street. On the other hand, it's plenty big enough, in a safe neighborhood, and, well, it's home. There are a lot of memories here. Moving isn't the first thing that pops into my mind.
Interestingly, Arduous blogged on the subject of happiness today, and I'm sure she was working on that article long before I got tagged. Her question was why Americans are not quite as happy as people in some other nations that have somewhat less than we do materially. I won't summarize the whole thing and the great discussion that followed. One thing that came out, though, was that many commenters were willing to give up wealth for time with family, especially raising children. I found this discussion so heartening. There is a lot of real unselfish behavior out there. Along with the stories I was hearing today about people helping out in the flood zones, I basically felt very hopeful about the human race in general, and American society in particular.
Then I read this quote:
"It is sad to see that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the joy of giving. We often live as if our happiness depended on having. But I don't know anyone who is really happy because of what he or she has. True joy, happiness and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others. A happy life is a life for others."
- Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved
I realized that giving was what we really wanted to be able to do. Others who were tagged for the game seemed to feel the same way. So what do you think? Are people generally greedy and selfish, or are they for the most part willing to step outside themselves, invest in relationships, and find joy in giving?