Imagine you woke up this morning and you were the last person on the planet.
You’d feel lonely and terrified, but look at the bright side. You just inherited all the wealth in the world.
This is how the first episode of The Last Man On Earth begins. The 2015 post-apocalyptic comedy series stars Will Forte as Phil Miller, who discovers he might be the last person on the planet after a deadly plague strikes. A two-year road trip around the country searching for survivors turns up empty, but he seems to enjoy owning all the wealth in the world in the meantime.
Phil breaks into grocery stores and takes all the food he wants, whenever he wants. He blows through stop signs and fills up his gas for free. He even takes ancient mummy tombs and million-dollar pieces of art from museums, just because he can.
When he returns to Tucson, Arizona, he picks out a mansion to call his own. He pours Cheez Wiz into a glass of $10,000 wine, decorates his house with the Mona Lisa and the rug from the oval office, and lounges in Hugh Hefner’s pajamas. He lays in a giant margarita in a kiddie pool, drinking from a giant straw, and hoping someone will see the messages he left around the country about his location.
The last man on earth seems to be the richest man on earth, but it doesn’t last for long. The garbage men are gone, so there’s no one to take out his trash. The farmers are gone, so Phil doesn’t have any fresh produce to eat. The water isn’t running, so Phil has been using the swimming pool in his backyard as a giant toilet. The richest man on earth quickly tumbles into poverty.
The Last Man on Earth is an unexpected lesson on the nature of wealth. It shows that wealth isn’t just material; it’s completely dependent on the constant work and creativity of others. Wealth can grow under the right circumstances and shrink under the wrong ones. In a post-apocalyptic world, wealth is like a deflating balloon.
Many might think inheriting all the wealth in the world would equate to economic well being, but Phil’s character shows this isn’t the case. Luckily, we live in a world with seven billion other people with the capacity to create wealth, discover new ideas, invent new products, and start new businesses. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, the body of Christ is one body with many members. The economy is similar in this way, relying on the unique gifts and talents of billions of people for the flourishing of each individual.
It makes you appreciate the garbage men that take out your trash every Tuesday, doesn’t it?
*Originally published on the IFWE blog.