Who would you leave your fortune to, assuming you had one to leave? Bill Gates is urging fellow billionaires to divest themselves of the bulk of their cash before finally cashing in their chips—which will be a great benefit to foundations and charities—not to mention their children who won’t be burdened with unearned riches. Few of us will leave an estate large enough to cover the cost of stowing us underground let alone funding world-changing programs. Still, it’s nice to dream.
Churches are generally favored places for bequests. A colleague once speculated that should she win the lottery or gain some other unlikely windfall, she would donate half to her church. Being a Mormon, I figure I’ve already donated plenty to religion, so my imaginary fortune will subsidize a secular foundation.
I tend to favor literacy or literature programs like the Utah Humanities Council’s lending library for book groups and their Motheread/Fatheread program. As a reader, I harbor a fond belief that literature can change the world—that wide reading develops our imagination. I think the failure to imagine how other people think and feel allows human beings to treat fellow beings cruelly—and to commit or fail to prevent atrocities on groups of people we believe are not like us. Foreign films also allow us to see people of other cultures as more like than different from us. Yes, I would fund humanities programs because if we help human beings learn to value each other, we just might solve the rest of our problems.
Where would you put your money?