Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

Just make a wish

2012-11-24 15.15.56

Bright wishes are often difficult to reach.

Here’s an interesting twist to the old thought-provoking question about who in the world you would invite to dinner. Consider this:

“Remember those lovely genies who grant wishes? Well, you’re one and you’ve just been emancipated from your restrictive lamp. You can give your three wishes to whomever you want. Who do you give your three wishes to, and why?”

To be clear, this did not originate with me but was put out as a prompt for a blog idea. The more I think about it, the more difficult it gets.

You’ll notice right away that keeping a wish for yourself is not an option. Furthermore, you the genie would presumably have no input on how the wish was spent.

So, if you were selfish, you could grant a wish to someone who would take care of you. If it were me, I could give one to my wife. She loves me and wants to see me happy. Am I right? Good idea?

As a genie, however, you’ve seen this before where a well-meaning person totally botches his or her life and those of loved ones by making too greedy of a wish or one with too little foresight. Besides, that’s selfish with a capital S; it would be like winning a $1.4 billion lottery and keeping it all for yourself.

No, I’m thinking this granting of wishes must be made to people with altruistic hearts, people who want to do good things for the world.

Is that enough, to want to do good things?

Alas, I fear it is not. What’s the most popular joke about Miss Whatever pageants? Contestants are asked something similar to getting a wish or maybe what it is they want to work toward and the answer always ends with “world peace.”

(Sidebar: Did that cause you to remember a scene from Sandra Bullock’s movie, “Miss Congeniality”? Her character, Gracie Hart, is a rough FBI agent gone undercover as a pageant contestant. In the interview portion of the competition, William Shatner’s character asks, “What is the one most important thing our society needs?” Gracie responds, “That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.” The stunned crowd is silent, prompting her to add, “And world peace!” to ecstatic cheers.)

The lesson, of course, is a good heart isn’t enough to do great things because a wish must be more tangible than “world peace” in order to be effective. One must know what to do and be able to reasonably anticipate just how things can go wrong. Remember, you’re giving each person only one wish, so there won’t be the fallback of using a second wish to correct a mistake on the first wish.

Not easy, is it?

One person keeps coming to mind. Mother Teresa was someone who had deep, first-hand knowledge of suffering in this world and proved over a lifetime she was more concerned about addressing the needs of others than those of her own. But she’s gone now and I haven’t seen anyone step up and prove capable of taking her place.

World leaders are in positions to be familiar with what good can be done, but it’s downright scary to give so much power to a politician.

The bottom line is I am at a loss. Help me out. In whom should we entrust these wishes?

Something big is happening in the next JP Weiscarver book. Be the first to read the tantalizing excerpts by signing up for my newsletter. First issue coming before the groundhog makes his weather prediction.

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