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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Benevolent Rich Man

I recently heard a great illustration that I wanted to pass along:

Suppose a rich man knew another extremely poor man who needed a series of surgeries in order to keep himself from dying from an otherwise terminal illness. The surgeries would cost the poor man a total of 10,000,000 dollars over time, but there would be no possibility of that ever happening for him. The rich man, being the benevolent man that he was, decided to offer the poor man the money needed for his surgery to be paid in full and applied at the right time in order to make the future surgeries a guarantee. The poor man realizes his need for the money and ecstatically accepts the money and is made well.

Now, suppose that the rich man not only offered the money to the one poor man in need, but he also offered the money to another poor man in the same financial situation, with the same disease. The only difference in this story is that while the first poor man accepts the gift from the benevolent rich man the second poor man declines the offer. Of course we know that the rich man is not lacking in any benevolence, but what can we say of the second poor man? What is the difference from the one to the other? They both need the money in order to survive, but only one recognizes that need while the other one doesn't. What is wrong with this picture? Is one completely stupid? Is he in denial? What makes the first poor man accept the offer over the other poor man? Is the first poor man smarter than the second? They're in the exact same situation with no advantage over the other, so what gives?

What do you suppose would be the answer?

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Dramatized Exegesis