If I had a million dollars, I would…

How many of us have played the “if I had a million dollars” game?  You know the one where you imagine what it would be like to find yourself the lucky beneficiary of a sudden windfall of $1 million and then opine on the ways in which you would spend it?

Well, let’s up the ante a little bit here, shall we?

What if you had a billion dollars?  Or more?  Would that change anything?

Would you invest it?  Buy a big house, or two?  Travel?  Finally own that fleet of luxury sports cars?  Eat at the finest restaurants?

Would you be willing to give the majority of it away to charity?  Just simply give the bulk of it away without receiving anything in return?

That is exactly what billionaires and renowned philanthropists Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are asking the wealthiest people in the world to do by inviting them to take what they’ve called the “Giving Pledge.”

According to the Giving Pledge website, the pledge “is an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will.  The Giving Pledge is specifically focused on billionaires or those who would be billionaires if not for their giving.

“The idea takes its inspiration from efforts in the past and at present that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds. We are inspired by the example set by millions of people who give generously (and often at great personal sacrifice) to make the world a better place.

“Initially, the focus was on the wealthiest families and individuals in the United States. Since there have been enthusiastic responses to the Giving Pledge around the world, the pledge now includes people from a mix of countries around the world.”

To date, according to the website, there are 115 people who have publicly taken this pledge since the concept was first introduced in 2010.  See the list here.

So what holds these tycoons’ feet to the fire when it’s time to actually follow through with their hefty promises?  Nothing.  Participation in the program is entirely honor-based.

Sure, it may be less of a fiscal pinch for someone to give away $12 billion when they still have a nice comfy cushion of $8 billion in the bank for them to live luxuriously on.  But I felt compelled to recognize and talk about this handful of extremely wealthy and influential human beings who have chosen to declare themselves as active participants in creating positive change in our world.

Are their altruistic gestures dampened by the fact that, even after their significant contributions, they still remain in the powerful 1%, without any negligible or obvious sacrifice to be had?

Do we need to see some level of personal sacrifice or hardship in order to appreciate the efforts of another?  Or does this type of movement signify a start, a beginning, a step in the direction that so many of us have been yearning to see, the ultra rich letting go of a bulk of their empires to better the lives of someone else?

According to the Forbes website, in the current year, 2013, there are 1,342 billionaires in the world.  115 of them have stepped forward to voluntarily participate in the Giving Pledge.  Not a large number, but definitely something to notice.  What do you think it would take for the remaining 1,227 on this exclusive list of those who have billions, potentially more money than they could spend in one lifetime, to choose to give it away?

What do we have to change in our world to pierce through the illusion of “not enoughness” and to alter harmful ideas of superiority?   Are we demonstrating what we desire to see from others in our own life, through our own actions?   Are we each giving of ourselves financially, energetically, and physically as we move through each moment of our day-to-day affairs?

Perhaps today is the day for us all to make our own “giving pledge.”   What might that look like for you?

Are you willing to say yes to that invitation?

(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

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  • NannetteKennedy

    Before this moment, never had even heard of the Giving Pledge. Good article and I learned a thing or two : )

    • Thank you for being here, Nannette!

      • Nannette Rogers Kennedy

        You are welcome.

  • Betty W

    A movement that expresses what’s been in my heart for a long time, proving again that there are no original thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

  • Terri Lynn

    Thank you, Lisa, for bringing this to light. I never heard of this pledge before. It is a wonderful thing to be able to give so much to the world and these people are very generous. Hopefully more and more humans will realize that we are in this life together.
    I am ready to take the giving pledge and what that looks like for me is giving locally. I do not have billions to give globally but I can and do donate to the local food banks. No one on this planet should go hungry. I can and do pledge to give all I can to charitble funds and to support Humanity’s Team and the work they do.
    It does not take a few billionaire’s to change the planet but the billions to give but a small amount. We can be the chnage.

  • Karen G.

    I feel that the Giving Pledge, which just appeared on 60 Minutes this past weekend, is a example for all that change comes from the people on the ground. So maybe the billionaire group are more likely in their limos, but the idea is the same. The individual can be more creative, fluid, and unlimited than governments or big organizations. The more we ask government to provide, the more conditions are imposed, more protection to itself that needs to be built it. Have you ever noticed how focused on “Cover your A##” the world has become? So many agencies have had to build in so many protections that the core activities are lost? Health care is an example. Do you think medical charting describes exactly what occurred with a patient, or only those activities that could be defended in court? In summary, institutions are heavily burdened by our expectations, billionaires are more in touch with creating their own reality.

    • “billionaires are more in touch with creating their own reality.”

      I’m not sure this is true. You seem to think those with money are consciously creating. They know how to play the financial game, but are they more in touch with creating their reality? Financially maybe, but not necessarily with the rest of their life.

      • Karen G.

        Marko, What I think about billionaires is that they don’t keep money away from themselves because they see it as dirty or sinful or something like that. Do you know anyone who was raised on rewards coming in heaven, not on Earth? How could anyone who believes poverty is pure or noble ever achieve wealth? But couldn’t it be powerful force for good?
        Sadly, I feel a little less appreciation for Warren Buffett now than I did last week. His company has decided to close a local Heinz plant and put 750 people out of work, not to mention the impact on farmers and local equipment manufacturers. While I know everything happens for a reason, it’s taken a little of the shine off of his hero button with me.

        Every issue is complex. I thank you for sharing your opinion with me so that I can be informed by other perspectives. What I want for the world is that each person in it can have some portion of the ease, freedom and comfort that billionaires enjoy.

        • For me the key is appreciation. If you are poor, appreciation for what you have, no matter how little can allow it to increase. To see that every event & experience we have that we interpret as bad, can be experienced as good is another key.

          The bad we experience is difficult for the mind to accept because of past data, but it can be done with practice & spiritual understanding.

          Miles of smiles,

        • Stephen mills

          Can I come in here and make a comment .Warren Buffet just bought shares in Exon Mobile $3.5 billions worth.Exon mobile is possibly the worlds largest company with sales last year of over $40 billion !

          Now is Warren Buffet contributing to the common good ? Why does he not invest his money in solar panels or Hemp or something that would benefit humanity .Perhaps he does in other way’s .Perhaps all he cares about is adding to his billions by the shortest possible path .Profit at all cost but who am I to judge ?

          Profit is ok but how much is enough and when does responsibility come in to do wonderfull things with all that CANDY (money).

  • Well the real question might be how much is enough for any individual to make? That is, would society be better off it put limits on how much one could make as CwG asks?

    Should people have that much money & power? How much is enough?

    I too saw the 60 minutes segment on this. It puts a good light on what the ultra rich can do with their money. On a smaller level we can also give a percentage of money away that we have to also help out.

    What CwG brings out is, do we really want & desire to solve these problems for good? If we cure all disease, hunger & poverty etc. All these people who work for these organizations will be out of work. What if their purpose in life is to help others?

    What do we do when we reach a state of no longer needing help from others? Or, is that what gives meaning to our lives?


  • Erin

    See? These ‘big-buck peeps’ ARE parts of ‘US’! They are participating in the Changes afoot right along side each & every one. Nice to finally See!

    When the circles created of gives are complete & moving ‘mobiously’, well, ‘Heaven on Earth’ will Be, won’t It? And ‘purpose/meaning to Life’?…Continuance!…Gotta keep putting out the efforts that keep the grooves in the moves, right?

    I, personally, no longer have bucks to share, but I do have other stuff…Nice, Wisdom, Compassion, Patience…these are valuable & sharable, too…Music to many, with little matter of tone-deafness, lack of rhythm, or even legs to dance. Still parts needed for the Mobius Strip to be maintained. We All gots somethin’ to throw onto the flo’. 🙂

    Nice share, Lisa! It will be wonderful to See the list grow & become ‘Amazing in Motion’.