The Gun Angel

You are home alone watching TV. A stranger comes to the door. He looks friendly enough, so you open the door to talk. He immediately pulls a gun on you, steps inside, and closes the door. He leads you to your living room and makes you sit down. He sits down too, and tells you that he is a hit man who usually kills pushers and other bad people who are his boss’ competition. So he does his job without remorse. But recently he had to kill a good person who was going to go to the police, and now he feels great guilt. To alleviate his guilt, he wants you to save 100 lives in the next six months and plant 1,000 trees, or get someone else to do these things. If you don’t, he or one of his buddies whom you would never recognize will kill you or someone you love.

He says that when he leaves, you’ll realize you have two choices: Either you can put all your energy into trying to protect yourself and your loved ones—but there is no way to protect yourself and them from a bullet that can come from anywhere at any time—or you can put your energy into achieving his demands.

Then he tells you facts about yourself: that you are a decent person who does such-and-such volunteer work. He also knows where you work, and that you are unhappy with your job. You feel terror as he describes the daily routine of someone you love. You complain that you can’t possibly do all he asks in just six months. But he says, “Learn. Ask people. Use the Internet.—Just find a way.” To make his final point, he places the barrel of his gun under your chin and forcefully pushes your chin up. As he heads for the door, he says, “And you’ve got to find a job that will make you happy.—Make that your third goal.”

After he leaves, you take a deep breath to calm yourself. You happen to look at the TV again. There’s an action drama on. Suddenly you realize that your life has become more dramatic and gripping than any TV show. You are the unwilling main character.

But for a month you are in denial. It all seemed so unreal. That is, until one day when you let your cat out and it returns drenched in cow’s blood. You know he’s out there, watching.

You begin to do research and find a tree-planting organization that plants six or more trees for a dollar. So 1,000 trees would cost only about $166 dollars. You start to feel some optimism, since that wasn’t too hard to do. You do more research and learn that children in poor countries often die for lack of inexpensive immunizations. Others need simple hydration formula for when they have severe diarrhea. These cost only a few dollars per child, which you donate. You then look for a new job, and after a couple of months of searching you find one you really like. Two months into your new job with friendlier people, you kick yourself for having put up with the job you hated for so many years.

Finally, the six months end, and nothing happens. Two more months go by. Just when you think you will never see him again, you wake up one morning to find him sitting on the edge of your bed with his gun in his hand. He makes you get up and show him the proof that you saved the lives and planted the trees. Fortunately, you have documentation from the charities you supported.

Once he is satisfied with your paperwork, he relaxes and says, “I lied when I told you I was a hit man. I’m actually an angel. I used to be the Angel of Death, and it was my job to take away people’s souls at the end of their lives.” He shakes his head sadly, saying, “You’ll never know how it feels to bear away all those children day after day. You’ll never witness what I saw: The unmitigated waste of thousands of lives, and the lacerated hearts of those left behind.” He looked down and paused. “It bothered me to know that other people, even decent people like you, could do so much more good with just a little more focus.” As he said focus he tapped the handle of his gun and winked.

After a pause, he continued. “I’m sorry that at first I made you feel fear and the hopelessness of being trapped in an awful situation. But extremely poor parents feel the same fear and hopelessness each and every day. You did a hundred times more good because your heart and yourbrainwere in it.” Having said that, he smiled radiantly and disappeared.

 

Commentary 1

Although the person in the story probably did a hundred times as much good as before, there’s a huge difference between saving a child’s life and providing him or her with the food, education and health needs of a lifetime. There’s an even greater jump between meeting one person’s needs and stabilizing a nation’s economy. In other words, it takes more effort than a few good donations to change the world. But even a few minutes of strategic thought and effort can dramatically boost the good that you do.

When you are inspired to perform some good deed, before you take action, ask yourself if you can act in a way that will help more people, or take less time and energy, or help in a more enduring way. When “good” people learn to do this, it will have an effect on the “mediocre” people and the “bad” people. Each upgrade over how you currently do good brings us closer to a peaceful, stable world.

 

Commentary 2

The protagonist experienced a quantum jump in his or her life. The angel supplied some ingredients, but I could argue that the person already had the resources and capacity to make the quantum jump. One way to use this story is to pretend that the Gun Angel visited you, and to throw yourself into the fantasy. Another way to use this story is to create the expectation in yourself that you will make or must make a quantum jump. Why? Because if Group Genie achieved good results at the start, then it would lead to so many more people being liberated from various forms of oppression and suffering, due to the increased funds and volunteer energy. In effect, it is the oppressed who have the gun aimed at them, so if you can connect with heir situation through empathy, you can create the equivalent of a “gun angel,” of course without the personal fear and anxiety.

 


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