Sharing Resources

monopoly moneyDo you remember playing Monopoly as a kid? The game started with the banker handing each player a pile of money to use through the course of the game. Those pale yellow hundred-dollar bills and bright orange five-hundreds represented an unimaginable amount of money to me – a fortune, ready-at-hand to buy property, houses, hotels and pay the fees that came up in the game.

A recent article in the Money and Career section of the Boston Globe featured a local executive whose fortune is a real one, not made of Monopoly dollars. It rings up at 17.2 billion dollars – a truly unimaginable amount of money. In an attempt to help readers grasp how much money 17.2 billion dollars is, the reporter itemized a list of the various things it could buy: 17 John Hancock towers, or all 30 of the NBA franchises, or 850 mansions on the scale of Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen’s new estate in California, or 81 Boeing 787 planes… and on and on.

I was appalled by the amount of resources in one person’s pocket (don’t get me started on the inequitable distribution of wealth in our country) and turned off by the traditional symbols of wealth the list contained. But my negativity shifted some when I saw that the reporter had at least included some more altruistic ways that the money could be used, including funding the MBTA for eight years or building seven Cape Wind projects.

This was much more exciting to me! I was inspired to think of all the philanthropic ways large amounts of money could help others: clean water and sufficient food for all, benefactor-level support for the arts and education, funding for hospitals and wellness centers… I enjoyed imagining the gift of being able to help others in a big way if I, too, had resources like the executive’s.

Well, you may not be surprised to hear that I don’t have resources anywhere near that! I won’t be funding any wellness centers any time soon. But another news story around the same time reminded me that money’s power to help and support others isn’t something only the super-rich get to experience.

This story was about a homeless man named Glen James. Mr. James found a backpack someone had left behind containing some $30, 000 in traveller’s checks. Though his destitute circumstances might have, in a way, justified his keeping the money he’d found, Glen James turned the backpack in to the police. He didn’t hesitate to do the right thing, and his honesty so moved people that he was both honored by the mayor and later rewarded with a fund that was set up online to collect money to help him change his life.

This fund was a miracle of small monetary contributions becoming a small fortune. A month after the fund was started, 6,434 people had donated upwards of $160,000. Some of the donations were only a few dollars each, the proverbial cost of a cup of coffee. But, these small amounts accumulated in a big way, and were life-changing for Glen James.

My husband and I jumped on the Glen James donation bandwagon, and it was a nice feeling to share some of our resources with this man who had done a good turn and could benefit from some goodness himself. It was an easy, satisfying donation to make.

Donating to good causes is a great thing to do, but many of us have periods in our lives when our available resources prohibit even a small financial donation. There are also times when financial support wouldn’t be the right way to help a cause we care about. What do we do then?

I’ve been experimenting with making donations of a different variety – energetic donations, in a sense – “donations” of silent blessings for the person or situation in need. Sometimes, there isn’t even an obvious need, but I’m inspired to send a little energy through my heart to someone I encounter. I call up qualities like: love, grace, peace, calmness, happiness, pleasure, humor, kindness and pass them on to my bank teller, family member, or the neighborhood child I meet. It’s a good practice with a bonus effect – silently communicating those qualities to others blesses me as well. As I think of grace, I also experience grace. Talk about a win-win!

While we may not each have a billion-dollar fortune, we do each have an unlimited energetic fortune we can share with each other. Let’s spread blessings like Monopoly money – freely received, freely given! Bless everything and everyone you encounter. We’ll all be the richer for it, I promise.

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