The Lottery Ticket

And a moral dilemma in that little brain of mine

Photo by Alejandro Garay on Unsplash

So I wake up on lottery day, with a weird idea wandering in my sleepy mind, as if speaking to me.

“Say you win the lottery today, would you give it all up, all the 154,000,000.00 euros, for no reason whatsoever?”

Silence

“OK, how about giving it up for a cause? What would it be?”

Children. Without a doubt.

The cause

Children are the most precious resource in this universe. They are the only hope this world has, and yet, they are so vulnerable and need so much attention and love, both of which are scarce, both of which are fading away.

So many children are suffering out there, so many children dying alone, hungry, miserable, out in the cold. Children do not have what it takes to fight back. They have their parents of course, but parents can only do so much when they have not eaten in days, when they have lost their job, their roof, their dignity. All they can do is love their children even more, hug them closer in the cold street they now call home, until the reaper comes for one or the other, and that’s about it.

Children are resilient, much more than you’d think. But resilience only comes in handy if the sole enemy they were facing was adversity. Children face more aggressive foes than adversity. They face preying scum who care little about them as poor little human beings, and more about the buck they can make on their backs. They will enslave them, sell them as cheap labor, or body parts, or both, or simply use them as shoot’em up material. It hurts reading this I guess. It sure hurt me writing it.

“So, back to our lottery. Would you give up your winnings for the sake of children?”

Yes! Most of it at least.

“Most of it?”

Yeah, you know, I might keep a little for the mortgage, and a little for retirement, and I would use a portion to set up a foundation to cater for the children in need. And then…

And then it dawned on me. I will never run out of good reasons to keep a stack of money aside, and the children can always have what is left. Which is nothing. And then I understood that this idea wandering in my mind was actually a call. A wake-up call. 

The wake-up call

What it says is that easy money rots you inside out. That you will not have enough wisdom and detachment to keep your head cool and your ethics intact. That every penny you keep to yourself would end up burning your soul, because as long as there are people looking for solace out there, as long as there are children sleeping in the streets, every penny you keep from the lottery winning would be a curse to you and your loved ones.

So no, I will not have it in me to give it away, but I am grateful I have enough brains to realize this much about myself. 

I know this idea might sound outright crazy to many if not most, and I sure know there is nothing wrong or unethical in winning lottery and enjoying it. It was a very personal wake-up call, tailor-made to that little brain of mine, and it made me take a very personal decision, which, of course, might or might not be right for everyone, but it sure feels right to me.

Ever since that day, I vowed to never buy lottery tickets again. I do not want to have to silence that little voice in my head, and I know I will have to if I ever win, even if the odds are extremely small.

A little prayer

Whenever I get tempted, I think of the children. And I say a little prayer. I ask God to grant me enough wisdom to stand by my choices, enough kindness to keep sharing with those in need, enough charity to keep a place in my heart for the children in need, enough gratitude for being alive, having a roof above my head and food on the table, and enough love to raise my children the way He would want me to.

And enough foolishness and liberty to still give up the lottery price should I ever stumble and buy a winning ticket, against all odds. 

And still, dear reader, if you happen to be holding to a lottery ticket right now, I hope it is the winning one. And I wish you all the wisdom and love in the world, regardless.

Let the board sound

Rabih

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

But are they?

Photo by John Bakator on Unsplash

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Unalienable right N°1

Life. Self-evident. Seriously?

How can the right to life be regarded as a self-evident truth without affordable healthcare? How can it be when the major stakeholders in the healthcare journey are private compagnies seeking profit? Is the conflict of interest not obvious?

Healthcare should not be a commercial activity subject to the laws of demand and supply. It should be organized by a neutral body, the state for instance, as it should be driven not by profit but by the common good.

And we are not even addressing the interpretation of the second amendment and its dire consequences on Life as an unalienable right, consequences which we have just witnessed again. Innocent children are paying the price of this anachronism of the 18th century which still holds its ground today, in spite of logic, in spite of faith, in spite of the god in whom the nation puts its faith, as George’s dollar bill seems to proclaim.

Or do we only trust Him with the markets self regulation and leave the rest to guns?

Unalienable right N°2

Liberty. Unalienable right. Right.

How can there be liberty in darkness? How can you be free without the light of an education you can afford? If your mind is constantly being kept in the dark, the only liberty you have is to fall for the gaslighting of big corporations and crooked politicians.

A fall, that’s exactly what it is.

You are free to choose exactly what other have already decided you should choose. And your choices will alienate your unalienable right to pursue happiness.

Unalienable right N°3

The pursuit of Happiness. Not yours, someone else’s.

In the dark, you will vote against Medicaid even if you cannot afford your medication, the dentist, or your cancer treatment.

You will vote for guns to protect the children whose lives will be taken away by this so-called remedy.

You will vote against unions and for the big corporations at the expense of your own rights to reasonable work hours, fair compensation and fair treatment.

You will believe that markets auto-regulate themselves, for the good of free entreprise, which, granted, is probably not an entirely false assumption, except markets do not “regulate” themselves as much as they “correct” themselves when a speculation-bred bubble bursts. That’s a much steeper process which leaves most people dying on the side of the road.

You will truly believe you are happy, living the American Dream one paycheck at a time, barely making ends meet, loosing your teeth and dragging your untreated and undiagnosed diabetes from your current hassle to the next one.

Enough with the socialism scarecrow

There si nothing inherently socialist in affordable healthcare, affordable high quality education and gun control. These do not undermine free entreprise and free markets. They do not hinder any rights.

Without them, the unalienable rights enumerated in the declaration of independence and supposedly upheld by the constitution will fall.

And this, my friends, should be self-evident.

Let the board sound

Rabih

There Are No Bad Choices

Your choices are as good as what you make of them

Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

The non-choices

First, let me set things straight with the title: some choices are obviously wrong. You can tell right away. You would be ashamed to even consider them. In this sense, they are not exactly choices.

Some others are a bit less obvious to figure out. For those, God, or the cosmic dice, or evolution, whatever you believe in, has provided us with an infallible compass. It is the inner voice telling you not to buy the Porsche. The one compelling you to study for the mid-terms instead of going out for drinks.

You can choose to ignore it, but you know you should not. Still you do sometimes and you hide behind rubbish like “You Only Live Once”. I know I have, many times over.

I’d like to argue these are not choices either. With a bit of inner listening, you can figure out what to do, and you end up realizing there was only one path to walk, and it did not involve a Porsche. Early enough or too late, that is the real question.

A sea of hesitation

Apart from the non-choices above, remains an ocean of hesitations. These are the real choices, the ones which have no true or false answer in general. Which job offer should I take? Who should I vote for? Do we go for a third child or do we stop at two? Medium or Vocal?

Standing on the crossroad, who’s to tell if left is better than right, especially not knowing where the roads lead? In many if not most situations, the road itself does not know where it leads. So, which is better?

Left or right?

Black or white?

Leave or stay?

In my opinion, adjectives like goodbadright or wrong and their superlatives do not apply to such choices. Good and bad are outcomes in this instance. They depend not on the choice itself, but on the course of actions one takes after the choice is made.

One has also to keep in mind that there are many dependencies to the choice which are out of one’s control. You take left. It is raining. Your car skids and ends up in a tree. Had you taken right, you could have avoided the accident. Or could you have? Whose to say? The road was slippery in both cases, and you might have ended up in an even worse situation. The fact is, you just do not know.

Warning, geek stuff ahead!

You see, the universe is governed by laws which simply prevent us from figuring out precisely what the future holds.

Here comes the geek part, brace yourselves!

Classical physics teach us that we can model the behavior of a system with a set of differential equations, which, given the right initial conditions, should allow us to predict the state of a system at any point in time. However, the devil is in the details. You need to figure out precise enough initial conditions, if you want your predictions to be accurate, for instance, the exact position and initial speed of the system you are trying to model.

Practically speaking, you could predict the exact position of an oscillating pendulum at future times for long enough. You would not be able to predict the path of a ball in a flowing river beyond a few seconds, and that is assuming tremendous calculation power to solve the differential equations behind the prediction.

It gets even more complicated when we move to less classical physics. Quantum mechanics teach us that it is not possible to know with arbitrary high certainty the position and speed of a particle at the same time. If you figure out its exact speed, you lose its position. This is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

Even weirder, the double-slit experiment, if you care to read about it, which shows the “fundamental limitation of the ability of the observer to predict experimental results”.

The choice

In a nutshell, no one can predict the precise outcome of a choice. The laws of the known universe will stand against such a prediction.

So how to make a choice? Well, if your inner voice is silent and you do not feel inclined towards one of the alternatives, heads or tails should be a good enough method. You cannot be wrong. Not when making a choice.

Not yet.

Your choice is as good as what you make of it.

Let the board sound

Rabih

Against the Tide

Hidden as the destination may be, your inner compass is constantly pointing to it

Photo by Cherise Evertz on Unsplash

The inner compass

North. South. East. West. Uptown. Downtown. Left. Right. Center. Liberal. Conservative. Socialist. Republican. Democrat.

It seems however you do not belong to any of the above. Your path is not solely defined by your belonging to a neighborhood, a party or a philosophy.

The thing is, your inner compass […]

You can read the full story on my medium page here.

Ideas Worth Sharing

Or how the lamest events can trigger the brightest ideas, or the lack thereof

Photo by Juan C. Palacios on Pexels.com

An apple once decided it was time for it to wander free from the branch holding it to an old apple tree in a garden somewhere in Kensington. Some lads walking by were witnesses to the incident.

The first lad thought: “Why does it actually fall to the ground?”

A lame idea at first sight, but one which gave birth to the laws of motion and the theory of universal gravitation, which now form the foundation of classical mechanics. The very idea which would allow sending three men to the moon 282 years later.

The other lad picked up the apple and ate it, then wrote a book about making a fortune by waiting for apples to fall from trees, and started selling his book to people who were in desperate need for a break, along with (expensive) courses on how to be whole again by watching apples fall from trees.

One of them made a fortune. The other one made a difference. A huge difference. We are still reaping the benefits.

If you have made it this far, why don’t you join me on a quest for gems in a sea of nonsense?

Let the board sound

Rabih

A Utopia Where Everyone’s a Winner

And the reason why no one has thought of it before

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How about a naïve but (hopefully) potent idea to shed some hope in the jungle which the corporate world has become today?

What if a major corporation pledged to give up half of its profits to charity in the broad sense, or to education or health services year in year out? Would it be too far fetched to reason that such a measure could boost its revenue and cut its tax rate enough to make up for the loss? That people are inherently good at heart and would choose it over its competitors?

It would take one big player to start playing this game and the next thing you know, everyone’s in on it and it becomes quite the norm, so much in fact that in time, not playing the game would be suicidal for any corporation.

And then it would be made into law, when every major player in the economy is onboarded. Part of the French constitution. A new amendment to the constitution of the United States. Not because it is the humane thing to do, that would be too naïve, but because it would be the most successful corporate growth strategy yet discovered, while saving the state and taxpayers billions, if we consider that universal healthcare or unemployment benefits for instance qualify for such a program. And even if they do not, then alcoholic anonymous would, and that still saves the state billions in damages and loss of life and limb.

Education would qualify too. Education is the last line of defense. When the rose hits the fan, a country must be prepared to lose everything but its education system. Without it, there is no rebuilding what would have been lost, without it, no future generations would hold.

It could be a system where everyone is a winner: households, corporations and states.

It is early morning, right before dawn. I’ve been on this article for a while now and the glass of wine is empty. Yes, we are in France and the article was not supposed to go the way it went, we got lost on the road and ended up in this weird place. Now that I am sobering up, I can see hundreds of reasons for this game not to work and I can see why it is beyond naïve.

But then again, was it only the wine? Why not after all?

One thing is for sure folks, don’t drink and write.

Let the board sound

Rabih