Monday, March 09, 2009

You bet your life, sharing works!

You bet you life DVD

The other day my husband Ian and I were watching old episodes of "You bet your life!" with Groucho Marx. The show really held up in humor over all the years since it originally piloted on television in 1949.

The premise of the show is rather simple. Groucho interviews his contestants and eventually asks them quiz questions where they can win varied amounts of prize money. When a couple wins the greatest amount of prize money, they have the choice to spin a wheel for a chance to greatly increase their winnings. In most cases, the couples that win the quiz part decide to keep what they have already won, instead of trying for the big money.

In contrast to the game shows of current day, if a contestant won $500.00, they would eagerly go after any opportunity to win more money. Today, the $500.00 dollars simply wouldn't be enough.

One other thing I noticed was the willingness to share that was displayed by the contestants on "You bet your life". Groucho asked a couple of contestants what they were going to do with their winnings, and one woman was going to forward her winnings to an orphanage in Korea and the gentleman was going to give a percentage to a family in need and some to a missionary cause of the day. I looked at my husband after hearing that and said, "Man, that would not be what people would do today!"

All this got me thinking on the idea of sharing, and how powerful it can be. In a day were individuality is so important, how could the act of sharing affect the world around us? If I were to go on a game show today and win the big money, what would I be inclined to do with it?

Last summer my daughter and I had a great opportunity to go to Pittsburgh and see Shane Claiborne and the traveling music/nomadic/community group Psalters. I'm greatly challenged by their words in regard to their call to end poverty by simply sharing what we already have. I suppose some of this challenge comes to me in light of the weariness of our economy in the US, as well as the underlying panic over financial and employment issues that are present in the hearts and lives of so many people nationwide and in my own community as well.

Some may say that the Psalters approach to life is too simplistic for our complex world, or maybe a little strange or counter cultural. I don't think that the Psalters philosophy would have seemed so counter cultural in the 1950's, when people could go on a game show with the intention of giving the money away. Today, we'd be more likely to buy something for ourselves. Just when did this switch from sharing to consumption occur in the world?

I don't have this all figured out, but the contrast over time in society's willingness to share is shocking. Contentment is a characteristic that is too seldom seen in the world today. If only we'd realize that contentment is never something that can be bought or won. Contentment is a gift, and one I better learn how to live with as well.

The group Psalters challenge me. The people who went on that game show in the 1950's and gave their winnings away challenge me too. Both groups of people had the gracious ability to be content in all circumstances, as I should. Yes, we need to be present and supportive for each other in all times, but in addition to this how could life's purposes shift in the perspective of contentment and sharing?

Phillipians 4:10-14
10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

“Share everything. Don't take things that aren't yours. Put things back where you found them.” -Robert Fulghum

“The "art of tea" is a spiritual force for us to share” -Alexandra Stoddard


Dianne said...

It is sad how we've moved towards accumulation and consumption, holding on to everything for dear life. What a tough and ultimately unhappy way to live. I appreciate your thoughts here.

Mel said...


It's taken me a long time to recognize more isn't necessarily 'better' ('cept for toys--I admit that!!), and possession is not a sign of 'wealth'.

And I really, really, REALLY needed to read this tonight.....which means I'm glad that outside stuff 'claimed' me so I was ready to hear...

Ty ty ty!