By John McNeil
A successful businessman is angry when he discovers his wife is giving away his money. An allegory based on the story of the Rich Young Ruler.
Brad - a successful businessman
Natalie - his wife
(Scene: the living room of Brad and Natalie's home. Brad is on his own, looking through a pile of bills.)
Brad: Cell phone ...right ... Internet provider ...yep... stock broker ... mmmm, I'll look at that later ... Visa... let's see (scans down) ... okay. (Pause) Hold on! (Looks again, puzzled.). TEAR Fund? What's that? (Picks up cell phone and dials) Hello, Colin? Brad here. The TEAR Fund. I don't recall you recommending that we invest in that. (Pause) We must have bought some shares in it, because it's on my Visa account. (Pause) Well, if you didn't, and I didn't, then who.....I'll call you back. (Calls) Tally!! (Pause) Natalie!!!
Natalie: (Enters, reading World Vision magazine or similar.) Mmmm!?
Brad: Tally, I've just seen our latest Visa account.
Natalie: (only half paying attention) Mmmm!
Brad: (Takes magazine out of her hand, thrusts Visa account into it.) Our Visa account!
Brad: Have you bought any shares in a TEAR Fund?
Natalie: No, silly.
Brad: One of us must have - it's here in black and white.
Natalie: You don't buy shares in TEAR Fund, you give them money.
Brad: You what!!
Natalie: TEAR Fund is not an investment fund.... well, it is, but not the way you think of it..... it's an aid agency. They help the poor and needy in Third World countries.
Brad: And...you...gave them (double checks Visa account, can't believe it) ... one thousand dollars!!
Natalie: They accept Visa cards now.
Brad: A thousand dollars! Tally! They could start a bank with that!
Natalie: Don't be silly, it's to provide education and clean water for village people in....
Brad: It's to line the pockets of corrupt African dictators!! They probably will start a bank with it. No...that's not the point. The point is, how come you've given away a thousand dollars of my money without asking me?
Natalie: You saw those pictures on TV! How could you not want to help?
Brad: I see lots of pictures on TV. We can't help them all.
Natalie: But you said we should give something!
Brad: I was thinking more like fifty dollars. (Looks down at Visa account.) I suppose I can only be thankful you didn't also give a thousand dollars to the.....CITY MISSION!! (Stunned) Tally, what in God's name is going on?
Natalie: (in small voice) We can afford it. (stronger) And you're right, it is in God's name.
Brad: Did your God tell you to bankrupt us? Natalie, what's this all about?
Natalie: There are millions out there starving, mothers who are so wasted they can't feed their babies, sick people who need only a few dollars of medicine to heal. Brad, we've got so much, and they've got so little. I couldn't face myself any more. And the Bible says there'll be no place in heaven if we don't help our needy brothers and sisters.
Brad: Let's unpack that muddle of ideas for a moment. Give me strength! First, it seems to me people wind up in that state for two reasons: acts of God, and the greed and corruption of man. If God inflicts these disasters on them, he can just as easily undo them. And even the poorest countries have their filthy rich. If they won't lend a hand, why should I? Second, we have a reasonable standard of living because I've worked hard to build us a future. Are you trying to tell me I've wasted my time?
Natalie: No, that's not ....
Brad: If the poor got off their backsides and did a decent day's work, they might have a better future, too. I don't see why I should throw my money away on people who aren't prepared to help themselves! And as for heaven....what's more important is what you make of life in the here and now. I am reaping the rewards of my hard work. I am not ashamed of it. Heaven was invented by the church to screw money out of people. It sows in fears to reap from the poor. It lays on a fear of hell so the poor will give up what little they have in the hope of a better life to come. Well, I'm not buying into it. I don't need heaven.
Natalie: (in tears) Don't you wonder what will happen to you when you die?
Brad: (Softens) Tally! I'm not a hard man. You know I've always tried to be ethical in the way I've done business. I've never knowingly ripped someone off. I've never taken something that wasn't mine. I pay my staff top dollar because I believe that's the way to get the best out of them. And you know what my driving motivation was? To provide for you properly - to give you a good life. I love you, Tally - I wanted you to have the best.
Natalie: (anguished) I know all that! You've been a wonderful husband, Brad. You don't know how envious my girlfriends are! But when it boils down, it's all irrelevant.
Natalie: Being good doesn't get us into heaven. The way we've earned our money doesn't.
Brad: (cynical) But giving it all away does!?
Natalie: Yes! No! Oh, how do I explain?
Brad: (Coldly) There's nothing to explain. I have a simple solution. Until you get over this mania of giving away what's not yours, I will put you on an allowance of $500 a month. Clothes, personal items, all come out of that. If you choose to give it away, that's your affair. But don't come to me for any more. When you can discuss this whole thing rationally again, we'll review it. Do I make myself clear?
Natalie: Do you have any objection to me going through my wardrobe and culling out what I don't need?
Brad: (About to object, but decides not to fight that battle). You can do whatever you like within the allowance. (Softens a little again) Come on. We've never had a disagreement before we couldn't work through. In the meantime, what's for dinner?
Natalie: (Picks up the magazine she was reading at the start). Do you see what it says here ...... World Vision is having a 40-hour famine to raise money for Mozambique flood victims. I thought maybe it would be good for us.....
Brad: (very firmly) Natalie, NO!
(Lights fast fade)
© Copyright John McNeil 2000
All rights reserved.
This play may be performed free of charge in any not-for-profit situation. However, in return the author would appreciate being notified of any performance. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 8024, New Zealand.