Worth More Than a Million Dollars 740.5

If you had the choice of winning $1 million in the lottery or saving a stranger’s life, which would you choose? I suspect many of you think you should say, “saving a life,” but what you are really thinking is how much better your life would be if you were rich.

If the test was which act improves the world most, sets an example most worth following, or is most noble, then the “save a life” option wins hands down. But what if the test was more self-centered: which is most likely to meaningfully improve your life? I think the answer is still: save the life.

Sure, you can do a lot with a million dollars, but for most people, doing something that is worthy has a greater and more lasting value than anything you can buy with money. In earlier times they would say a good name is the most valuable asset you can have. Is it really any different today?

Strangers may envy, but they don’t admire, a lottery winner. Friends and family may rejoice, but they aren’t proud of, the lottery winner. And no feeling of worthiness comes to the person who was lucky to hold a winning number.

Saving a life. That’s something special. That’s a form of immortality. And that’s what a dozen bystanders in Utah experienced when they engaged in a spontaneous act of spectacular humanity and courage as they lifted a blazing car to save a stranger.

There was a collision between a motorcycle and a car. Both vehicles caught fire and the cyclist slid under the car. Dozens of bystanders, mainly college students and construction workers, watched in horror. One man tried futilely to lift the car then five others ran to join him. Unable to budge the car they retreated and the flames grew. A woman looked under the car and reported the cyclist was still alive. The six rushed back soon joined by six others. Together a dozen strangers easily lifted the car, and 21-year-old Brandon Wright was dragged to safety. The diversity of the daring dozen — grad students in math from Lebanon and Ghana, construction workers and businessmen — adds to the symbolic significance of this act of unity and humanity.

The rescuers won the undying gratitude of Brandon and his family and, best of all, a lifelong title: heroes.

What’s a million dollars compared to that?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 8

  1. What about the question of ethics that is implied in your choice? Let’s say you had to choose, would you save the stranger who is right in front of you in immediate mortal danger, or would you take the million dollars and save thousands of people from starvation and/or disease?

  2. This is a very timely commentary, we have just seen on the news where several people risk their own lives to save a motorcyclist who was trapped under a car with the cycle burning.
    We saw the Good Samaritans working as a group to lift the car enough off the unconscious cycle rider to be pulled free from a curtain death if he was left under the car by another Good Samaritan.
    I don’t think this is a good comparison though. I would say most of us would like to win $1,000,000.00. The question then would be how we use this money. We can use the money for our own selfish pleasure, give it to close friends and relatives who don’t really need it, or we could give it to various organizations whose purpose whose goal is helping people survive, like feeding the poor who may die of starvation.
    We are who we are, if we would actually risk our life to save another person, wining the lottery would make no difference, we would help those in need. If we are able to save a person, but sit on the side lines because of being afraid of getting hurt, by winning the lottery, the money would be used for our own personal pleasure.

  3. At one time in my life, I’m sure the valor of saving someones life far exceeds winning the lottery. After December 16, 2010, I now choose the money. I was working in a car dealership when one of our customers had a massive heart attack. I rushed to him and tore open his shirt to perform CPR. I was licensed and had medical training in the past. After 7 minutes of CPR which included mouth to mouth, the paramedics came. He was “flatlined” and after several minutes,they got his blood pressure up and took him to hospital. The paramedic told the crowd that whoever gave this man CPR, that he saved his life. One of the paramedics told me to follow the ambulance and just to be safe, go to ER to have blood test to make sure that the victim wasn’t HIV or had hepatitis. I won’t go into detail, but the victim got sick and I continued to perform CPR and mouth to mouth. I got my blood tested after being in the ER for a couple of hours. The patient died a couple of days later. Long story, short, after a few weeks, I got phone calls and letters from the hospital demanading I pay 1400.00 ER fee, 150.00 doctors fee, and 100.00 lab fees. Since that day in December, my life has not been the smoothest of rides. I was let go from my job in March because of lack of production….never given a verbal warning or written warning after 3 years with company. I occurred every possible unexpected
    expense while out of work. My former company turned this event into a workman comps claim and as I write this letter today, I still get letters and voicemails from hospital asking me to pay my bill. My former company seems to be asleep at the wheel trying to resove this and now I wouldn’t be suprised if it affects my stellar financial rating. I am not at all wealthy but have always paid on time. All this from trying to help a person in need. My view of todays world is quite tarnished. Given the choice of a millon dollars or saving someones life, i’d take the million and try to do something good with it.

  4. Bob,
    I was sorry to read your misfortunes..You fail to explain why the hospital was billing you. Was the deaseased death the cause of your being fired?

  5. I attend a small high school in Texas… I just recently started going to church again and our minister there has been telling us lately “Treat others how you want to be treated.” If I were in the position that I could have $1 million or save a strangers life. I would definetly choose to save the strangers life. And if I had the opportunity to go back and choose again. I would still choose the strangers life. Because what if you were in that position? And a week after you chose the money, say a car fell on top of you and you were surrounded by flames? What if someone else chose the money instead of you?
    The satisfaction in my heart, knowing that I saved someone else’s life and did a selfless thing, to me is worth more than any amount of money.

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