The Lottery #illumedati 1

Hey everyone it’s Finance Fridays again. Today’s post might seem a little off topic, but today I want to talk about “The Lottery” — but perhaps not quite in the sense you might think for a Finance Fridays post.

The Lottery
Image by Alejandro Garay from Pixabay

The Lottery?

Yea. When I say Lottery, you might be thinking that I mean the Mega Millions or Powerball or something. In general, that is what most people think about when you hear the word “lottery” — it’s the idea that you get chosen and win something.

However, just to turn this notion on its head, while lottery has a positive connotation associated with it commonly (1a), but the word itself can actually be neutral (1b or 2).

Definition of lottery (from Merriam Webster)

1a: a drawing of lots in which prizes are distributed to the winners among persons buying a chance

b: a drawing of lots used to decide something

2: an event or affair whose outcome is or seems to be determined by chance

I am reminded about a short story I read when I was in middle school aptly titled “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.

Go ahead and give it a read if you haven’t already, but the TL;DR about it is that for this village the lottery was simply a selection process to randomly choose an individual to be stoned to death. In this short story the lottery “winner” is actually the loser.

There was a similar thing that occurred in an episode of Sliders, a show I used to watch a long time ago — that I really liked. The episode was called “Luck of the Draw“. It was actually almost a reverse lottery in that you every dollar you took out of the ATM was a ticket for “the lottery”. The more money you took out the higher your chance of being selected where you would be the one chosen to die. You were given a parade in your honor and your life was celebrated for the day and then you were killed off. It was almost like the worst type of loansharking — but was legal in that particular universe to control the population.


Anyways, the real purpose of this post is to kind of open your minds to things that we may take for granted. While the term “lottery” generally has a positive connotation associated with it, the term itself is inherently neutral.

So what’s the point of this? Well I think a lot of people in the world dream of winning the lottery. It sounds great doesn’t it? You get all this money and no need to worry about anything anymore. So of course, that is understandable. So I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

You’ve already won the lottery.

In fact, many of you have won it a few times.

Just the fact that you can sit and read this mean you won the most important race of your life… being the sperm to fertilize the egg. Even more important is that it hypothesized that it takes ~100 sperm just to penetrate the egg once you get there. However, you were the lucky one to fertilize it. Luck on luck.

If you were born in America or were able to grow up in America, you’ve already won the lottery. Just by being born here or growing up here, your chances for success are ridiculously better than people who are born in 3rd world countries.

If you grew up in safe household with good parents and went to school everyday, you also won the lottery. Many children aren’t as lucky. They either have parents that don’t want to or are unable to take care of their children. Or they are unable to stay in school for some reason and must drop out early. There are many, many reasons for not being able to go to and complete primary or secondary school.

If you were able to go to college, then that’s another lottery won. Many people don’t have the option to go to college. This number has decreased over the last 20 years, but there is still a lot of people who can’t go to college or achieve any form of higher education.

I see…

Of course, this is very difficult to understand as a child growing up. It’s not until you’re an adult, or even out working that you realize how lucky you are and how many lotteries you’ve already won.

The problem is how do you help your children to understand this? I remember my parents telling me everyday how lucky I was, but I never really understood it until I saw the rest of the world.

Ignorance is bliss.

However, now that I am a father to two beautiful children, it is now a problem that I wrestle with pretty much all the time. You want to give your children every opportunity you had (and more), but you also want them to not take things for granted.

How do you explain to a child that has access to clean water everywhere that there are kids just like her somewhere else that don’t?

I want them to understand how lucky they are, but I would also like to instill in them a mission to help those less fortunate. However, it’s difficult because when I try to explain to my 6 year old daughter, I am reminded of my own 6 year old self who just didn’t understand. I think that things like this need to be experienced with your own eyes to really understand. My colleague and I are going to look into maybe having our children help out at a soup kitchen (under our supervision of course).

To be honest, I haven’t done nearly as much as I want to help the less fortunate. However, once I can get these student loan shackles removed, I do plan to put effort and money into a cause I am passionate about helping.


The Lottery isn’t just all winners.

We forget that we’ve already won the lottery a few times already.

Give back when you can.

I try to, but haven’t done nearly as much as I want.

That said I do plan to do much more once I am a little more financially secure for the future.

Finance Fridays Sensei


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