How much might you bid for a $20 bill? $1? $5? $10 maybe? Well, several years ago a business school professor says that she began her class by asking this very question. She tells the story of opening one class with the $20 auction. Many people participated early on, as the bidding approached $20 most dropped out of the bidding but two remained until the winning bidder settled for $54.
Amazingly the professor pulled out another $20 bill and immediately began a second auction. Same group, same rules, same auction. Having experienced the first auction and seen the results the bidding was even more frenetic. A large number of people began bidding and the amount rose rapidly beyond $20. Several people remained in the bidding as it passed 50, 60, $70. At $100 only two remained. The bidding accelerated. At $400 others in the class were shouting, swept up in the frenzy a few tried to be the voice of reason to no avail. $700, $1000 and then kept going until… going once, going twice… SOLD for $2000!
Now, we take a step back. Shake our heads, smirk, roll our eyes in surprise and … wonder WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!
And yet, this is a reflection of the culture, the values the world in which we live where hyper competition, scarcity and irrational fears goad us into perpetuating and participating in $20 auctions of all kinds.
Now – this is not new… in some ways it is the eternal struggle accentuated in the time we are currently moving through. For 4800 years the Judeo-Christian History is one in which people have struggled to make sense of this God of Love who calls us to love and be a blessing in blessing others. Over and Over again story after story we get it, we celebrate it, we live it… only to get swept up because in our hearts we are afraid we are we are not valued, loved, worthy, important, powerful, accepted, seen or heard.