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.