Last Friday night was clear and cold in Seattle. My family and I climbed aboard a brightly decorated boat to join the parade that followed the brightly lit Christmas ship on its voyage along Lake Washington. The Christmas ship’s choir welcomed us with a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus. Twice during the voyage, the ship stopped and all the rest of us motored up close to listen as the choir sang Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree… Frosty the Snowman… Hark, the Herald Angels Sing… Silent Night. Beautiful! Inspiring! C-O-L-D!
At one point, the Christmas Ship, christened PEACE, passed by an ornately decorated mansion, so huge and bright it lit up the shoreline.
“That’s Bill Gates’ house,” my daughter told us.
Wow! Perfectly situated, I’d say.
Bill Gates is one of a kind. No, not because he’s among the richest men on earth. Not because he developed one of the most innovative and successful businesses ever. Bill Gates, along with his wife Melinda, is one of a kind because of the way he has handled his fantastic wealth.
I’ve often wondered what I would do if I suddenly had an extra million dollars or so. After I paid off debts and treated the family to a special vacation.. well, what then? Of course, that’s the kind of question for which we never really can foresee an answer. Well, it happened to Bill, but the extra came in billions. And what he and Melinda did with it was fund the most innovative and successful foundation in history. The Gateses endowed it to the tune of over $30 billion! Yep, that’s billion, with a B.
Bill and Melinda have persistently resisted allocating money based on how much recognition and applause it would bring them. Instead, they choose projects that provide the most bang for the buck. It’s impossible to understand the impact the Gates Foundation has had on health and education initiatives around the world.
Like Microsoft? Hate it? It doesn’t really matter. Bill Gates has shown us what can happen when the right person is entrusted with great wealth.
Merry Christmas, Bill Gates!
“Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.”