NYT vs. Powerball


What’s more common: exceptional writing or a winning lottery ticket?

The ambiance of a speech-laden day woos me into thinking exceptional writing is the winner. As I re-read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s address, my writer’s ear rejoices at his use of repetition and amplification (Margie Lawson teaches us it’s called anaphora). I not only read the words, but my thoughts slow, and I both see and hear him speak each line, hear the response of the crowd, and feel the swell of hope as if I had been there on that summer day in 1963.

Let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire,
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York,
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania,
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado,
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California…
But not only that…
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia,
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee,
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

Yet in fifty years’ time, how many examples of such exceptional, evocative, and provocative writing endure? How many passages can you quote from your favorite book? How many did you even feel like reading more than once?

Lottery drawings happen a couple times each week in more than fifteen major drawings around the globe, and hundreds of smaller ones. Not to mention the lower value (better odds) scratch-off ticket winners. One hundred twenty-seven Powerball winners have claimed payment in the last ten years. Fifteen of them were from Pennsylvania.

My fortune cookie at lunch read: The finest eloquence is that which gets things done. Instead of trying to write a powerful and inspirational piece for you today, I’m going to go buy a lottery ticket and split the winnings with you if we hit it big.


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