For some reason, driving home from work tonight, I started thinking about that movie, The Box. Where a mysterious man comes to a house one day to inform this couple that they will receive one million dollars if they press the button contained inside the box. As a result of the pressing of the button, someone they don’t know somewhere else in the world will die.
They press the button.
And as it turns out, so does everyone. And even though they all regret doing it, it continues on and on for who knows how long. I don’t remember a lot of the movie, nor the short story on which they based it, but to me, it doesn’t really seem that difficult a choice to make.
I don’t care how destitute my financial situation is, nothing is going to make me knowingly end someone else’s life, stranger or not. And there is no amount of money that will make that okay for me. It can be a simple act to end one’s life, the press of a button, the push of a syringe, the pull of a trigger. Whatever the cause, the effect remains. And that’s what you have to live with.
The thing is, we do things every day that effect other people. We can be pretty awful to each other over silly things like money or image or other stuff that doesn’t really matter. We don’t have to do much to devastate someone else. Bullies know this. So do the bullied. What we say can matter a lot. What we do matters. We might not be going around killing each other, but a lot of us could probably do better. We could keep our mouths shut if all that’s going to come out is a complaint or a put down. Instead, we could open our mouths when we witness an injustice against someone else. We could open our mouths to tell people they’ve done something well, when they look beautiful. We could open our mouths to laugh with someone in their joy, to console someone in their sorrow.
I guess all this to say, I like to think I’d put people before money any day. If I could be set for life but have to give up a close friendship or cut myself off from a set of family members, I’d say, keep the money. I might not be able to go anywhere or buy anything I want, I have to be careful and plan my expenditures, but I have love. I have respect and love for myself and for the people who surround me. So, go ahead and give me the box. I might be imperfect in many ways, but there will never be enough dough to make me press that button.