If you had 5 million dollars, how would you contribute it to the society?

If I had 5 million dollars, I would set up a home for dying people. In our world, people seem to be obsessed with the philosophy of vitality: we try every possible means to prolong our life, to praise youth and vitality. Look around us. An advertisement about a shampoo, like the one by Vivian, focuses on her youth, beauty and naturalness. The word "doctor" in Cantonese means "bringing one from death" or, literally, "curing one's life." Another remarkable example is from the advertisement about insurance. Even though it is closely related to death, the advertisement talks less about death, but more about possession and vitality. The word "death" is a taboo in the advertisement which is seldom conveyed to the customers of an insurance plan. All these examples show that people are shunning death.

The result of this shunning is that death is treated lightly and carelessly. And when people are sick or when people are dying, they seem frightened and do not know what to do when facing death. This sense of hopelessness is no doubt the outcome of our obsession with the philosophy of vitality and our ignorance of death. But, I sometimes wonder: Is not death part of our life and a valuable experience for everyone to cherish? Why should we be afraid of death anyway? So I think if we could have an environment in which the dying people can learn something about death culturally and religiously, people may have a more positive way to deal with the problem of life and death. And I also think that once people study, examine, understand and, finally, accept the fact of death, fear will probably disappear. What has been left at last is our concern, courage, and encouragement among people. This is the reason why I want to set up a home for the dying people if I had 5 million dollars.

by Thomas Shum