On my way to work, I tend to listen to WTOP or Hot 99.5's Kane Show. I like them for different reasons, but I appreciate the personalities on the Kane show for their authenticity. Often they bring up articles or situations and ask what people think. The answers are interesting and give you something to ponder.
Today, a topic recently addressed in our household came up and the answers were startling to me.
Situation: You go to the vending machine and find that something in the change cup is broken, so people's change is getting caught. If you jiggle it, the money falls down and you can go on your way. If you don't know it's broken, you may think your change is lost in the machine. So, let's say you know this:
Kane's argument was that it's bad karma to take what isn't yours and everyone teased him about it. They said if it's only a little change, what's the big deal. The callers seemed to agree. The only caveat being, you might tell someone the machine was broken. Might.
I was, frankly, appalled.
Does no one look at things from the other side of the fence? We've all been there. We've been the person whose drink or snack doesn't come out of the machine - the next person gets to enjoy two on our dime. Sometimes, it's your last dime or your only meal that day. Perhaps it's one more negative event in your life or worse, the one that sends you over the edge that day. Maybe you report your lost change or food, or even go back hoping to find it.
I'm pleased to say in our building you'll often see a can or bag sitting atop the machine waiting for its lost owner. Sometimes there will be a dime and a nickel perched on the edge for someone to come back and claim. I think that's awesome. I personally think that's the right choice.
It's not always convenient or even "fair" to do the right thing. We are all human and will sometimes fail to do the right thing, even with the best of intentions - but generally speaking teaching our future generations learning by our actions is an important thing. My stepson and I discussed the above situation. He, like many of the callers, didn't see the problem with taking the change. It's not stealing, right?
Wrong. If that isn't your money, it's not your money. Taking it from the machine when you know it was someone else's, regardless of knowing WHO it belonged to, is stealing. If you start taking the small stuff, you lose that sense of personal accountability and it gets easier to take the big stuff.
When you ask yourself how whole industries could be ok taking advantage of other people (see: mortgage, insurance, wall street, etc.) - this is how it begins. A sense that you are entitled to whatever you can get, regardless of how you got it.
What happened to honor? Where did the pride in doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing go?
This topic will come up in later posts, I assure you, because entitlement in general is so pervasive in our society that it intrudes everywhere. It's something we need to be aware of while making a conscious choice to erode it. You have rights, that's true - but your rights don't get to supercede that of everyone else.
Of course, this is my opinion... discuss amongst yourselves (or in comments).