What’s Happening Wednesday: Courage and Civility

Sometimes,I dream of winning the lottery. I think about the houses I would buy, and the vacations that I would be able to take. I think about the number of people I could help and wonder which one of my accountant friends I would hire, and which of my friends with securities licenses I would put in charge of my investments.

You have to actually play the lottery to win it, so I’m probably not going to win anytime soon. Besides, there are lots of TV shows about the bad things that happen to lottery winners after they cash in. Many fall in to calamity, losing all their money, filing for divorce, and even getting ill. Some feel like winning all that money as a curse.

I mention this because yesterday, after the world’s richest man came back from space, he announced that he is giving away $200 million dollarsas awards for Courage and Civility. The first two recipients are a world renowned chef and a CNN commentator.

These awards baffle me. I like Chef Jose Andres and Van Jones. I think they are both probably good people. They might even do great work with all that money. I also believe that courage is an honorable trait. Courage has been laudable since the beginning of human history. The Bible says to be strong and courageous and the phrase is often followed by a promise of providence and protection. I understand rewarding courage.

I do not understand awarding civility. We were taught that civility was the bare minimum. Being respectful certainly wasn’t worth $100 million dollars when I was younger. Have people been so rotten to each other these past few years that being civil is considered a laudable trait?

I actually wonder if these new awards Bezos is handing out is a critique on society in general. I’m wondering if he is saying that having such large sums of money opens you to such criticism that it becomes difficult to be civil. I’m wondering if he is saying that it’s difficult to be courageous and civil at the same time.

Here’s what I know. God honors the courage of the faithful. It might not get you a cash windfall. It might not earn you many earthly rewards at all. Joshua 1:9 says, “ 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” That’s worth more than $200 million dollars.

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