Something that’s been bothering me lately.
Stealing. Thieves. I want to yell and scream at people who take without regard for the well-being of others. I really want to yell at them. One thing that brought it up was in my accounting class where we did an ethics assignment. The circumstances were given where an item or service was offered, but not all the information was disclosed. The professor asked the class “Is it ok to advertise something without disclosing the final cost? Or the increased subscription rate? or hidden fees? or flaws?” Most of the class – about 60% or so – said it was fine. They said Buyer Beware! and that it falls upon the person buying the product to educate himself. “What if it was an old lady who can’t read the paper where it says ‘promotional rate only?'” she asked. The people shrugged their shoulders. Who cares. Not my problem.
I suddenly remembered why I left the business department back in the day. And I wanted to slap them – these people who are trying to become the future CEO’s of Enron and Home Depot.
I posted an item on craigslist for sale. I was soon contacted by a guy who wanted to buy it and have it shipped to a friend in Africa. I told him it would be massively expensive (158 dollars) just for shipping. But he said he wanted it and quickly emailed saying he’d paid. I then got a message from paypal that said I had received payment. I ran down to the post office and sent off the package. When I got back home I went to my paypal account to transfer the needed funds into my checking account. Lo, and behold, no money.
I ran back down to the post office and retrieved my package and a check for the amount of shipping. I had already emailed the guy and said the item had been shipped. He emailed again and asked for the confirmation number. I told him that it hadn’t been sent because payment hadn’t been received yet or hadn’t cleared. He told me that paypal would give me the money as soon as shipping was confirmed. I checked the paypal email and found that it originated from a server other than paypal.com. I even internic’ed it to see who the owner was – still not paypal.
The guy emailed again and said how urgent it was to send this item (a broken projector!) to africa. I told him I couldn’t afford to send it unless I got paid the shipping.
I don’t understand why somebody would go through so much effort to steal something that was already broken – and force the victim to pay 158 dollars at the same time.
At the applebees I used to work at we had to open a new box of silverware every month simply because so many people took it. Why would a person do that?
A rap star on a show I once saw left his multi-million dollar home and went downtown to pick up his welfare check and food-stamps. Why? “Because,” he said, “if people are going to give away money, I’ll take some.” Never-mind the actual need of those for whom the program was intended. Never-mind that by taking what he doesn’t need somebody else doesn’t have the help they require.
People break into homes and take things that aren’t theirs. People are robbed on the street.
There are people who really believe you have to take what you can take and leave nothing for anybody else. People who can’t believe that sharing anything ever is an option. The idea that there’s enough for everybody is completely unreasonable to them. These are the people who want to get but never to give. When these people see somebody else succeed they think it makes them a failure. When they see somebody else who is rich, these people think only of the money the rich are preventing them from having. It’s a doctrine of self and greed and scarcity. Stranger still, they always have a reason to justify it.
I used to download music illegally. I had excuses. First because I didn’t know, then because I didn’t think it was illegal despite what they were saying in the news. Then the old fallback “It doesn’t hurt anybody.” But eventually I had to look at myself and recognize that I was stealing. Even though I was taking something that could be replicated infinitely, I didn’t have the permission of the person who made it. So I went through and deleted all my stuff.
Even having done that much, I still worry that stealing, and this mindset, is something that I could easily fall prey to. I think that’s what makes me so mad when I see others do it. I tend to get maddest when I see flaws in others that I have in myself. Am I the only one? I doubt it.
I guess my point is that there’s never a good reason to steal in our society. It’s this kind of mindset – that of taking everything you can – that sours our outlook and cankers our souls. It leads to the person who files lawsuits for every slight. It has already taken us into a society where a car and home must be locked all the time, insurance rates are inflated, and there’s no trust between strangers.
I’ve done what I can to keep from taking from others. I want to have the attitude where a person could come to me and, rather than steal from me to get what he wants, he could ask for what he needs and I would give it to him. I’m not to that point yet. I’m still suspicious of my neighbors and mistrusting of strangers, but I’m trying.
And I’m back in the business program. Not because it’s gotten any better, or the people any more ethical, but because I have decided to work for something better than what we would have if we let those unethical, self-centered, greedy thieves lead the people.