Lessons from the Lottery: The “root of all evil” runs pretty freaking deep.

January 14, 2016


At least he was honest…

The lottery has been trending, hasn’t it? No not the famous short story by Shirley Jackson. (If you haven’t read it you should.) Something about 1.5 billion dollars caught everyone’s attention. Biggest jackpot ever. A “call to action” if I ever saw one. Any direct marketer would salivate if he could generate the response that Powerball did. It made everyone and their brother a consumer. Unfortunately, offering two additional lines for $19.99 on your Family Plan just doesn’t have the same pull.

The fantasy of winning untold riches is at the crux of human desire. It drove countless throngs into the California wilderness looking for gold. A few found some. More died trying. Still, there was that chance…

is

The Golden Ticket. It could be in that very next chocolate bar. But you have to buy the chocolate bar. Or hundreds of them.

Or you can rob a bank. Why is it we root for bank robbers in the movies and romance them in our history books? Because it taps into that same fantasy: Getting rich. Now. Safe crackers and masked robbers titillate us to the point where we overlook the criminality of it. Jesse James is revered as a folk hero and not the viscious douchebag he undoubtedly was. It’s not right but it’s true.

line-up

“It’s my time.”

The dream to change one’s circumstances via riches is deeply human and more than a little sad. Obviously, if there’s a God in Heaven, He would prefer we not covet cash. Monetary enlightenment is an oxymoron. We are taught it is the root of all evil. That it corrupts. That the super rich are super assholes. Remember the “Occupy” movement? Down with the 1%.

And yet who didn’t buy a lottery ticket this week? I’m willing to bet millions of people who otherwise despise the 1% stood in line for a shot at becoming one. Perhaps these myriad hopefuls believe, upon winning hundreds of millions of dollars, that they would not become selfish snobs living only for pleasure and hedonism. One need only look at rock stars and pro athletes to see how that plays out. Sure, I’m generalizing (there are plenty of millionaires and billionaires who are great philanthropists) but you must concede the point: We are all willing to chance our integrity for the possibility of riches. It’s the American Dream.

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