Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Secret Millionaire

Secret Millionaire.

One of my favourite programmes on TV presently is “Secret Millionaire”. This new breed of documentary (which originated in UK and first screened in 2006), has a simple plot. Take a person of immense financial privilege and place them incognito into a geographical area of extreme lack and disparity, where their privilege and networks mean nothing. Give them housing and a financial allowance the same as an unemployment beneficiary and let them find voluntary work in the community and you have a study of human nature, par excellence.

I can’t remember a single programme that hasn’t had me in tears, as we see the human spirit soar to the heights of “humanity” at its best. Whilst it is impossible to truly know the impact on the people involved, from a viewing perspective, it would be fair to say that the characters that appear to have been impacted the most are usually the millionaires. Each programme concludes with the core purpose of the series, (to give away some of their money to those they have found to be worthy recipients).

With each programme, the “secret millionaire” (youtube) makes some profoundly soul shaking discoveries about themselves and the world that they have become isolated from. It almost always re-connects them to their fellow man and inspires them to view their life from a new and empowered vantage point. It would be fair to say that those on the receiving end of these “secret millionaires” gifts, have their faith in mankind (and womankind) re-affirmed, as they are further resourced in their passion of serving their communities. It’s powerful, heartwarming and some of the most positive viewing I have seen in years. Is there spin involved? probably, but we get spin in negative TV as well. Why not for a few moments in time focus on something that builds rather than pulls down. Thats what Iv'e been thinking anyway.

So what can we learn from the series?

1. Giving is still one of the most endearing characteristics of mankind
Pre-occupation with our own needs is perhaps the single most disempowering act for our community. When we give, we change.

2. Serving someone else’s passion is a powerful way to personally connect with them.
The story is told of the chicken and the pig, whilst walking past a restaurant begin to talk about Bacon and Eggs and the chicken suggests they open a restaurant. The pig replies “Its fine for you, as you’d be involved but I would be committed.”

3. Open a person’s heart and you open up their vision (and cheque book)
Some people know the cost of everything but the value of nothing. True value is not in what comes to us, but what “flows through us” The principle of “sowing and reaping” is applicable in all areas of life.

4. You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a difference, but it helps to be generous
The story is told of a tourist lost in the centre of Dublin who asks a local resident for directions to Chancery Street. “Well if I was you”, said the local, “I wouldn’t start from here.” Truth is, we can only ever start from where we are now. It’s not what you need, but what you have, that counts.

5. Thank God for volunteers around the world.
Being pre-occupied is no excuse for serving outside of your own need. Millions of people world- wide gives of their time “freely” in pursuit of their fellow man. Even the lives of millionaires can change if we connect with the man in the street.