Honesty is Still the Best Policy

When I was 7-years-old, I stole a piece of Bazooka bubble gum  while at our neighborhood store, Littleman’s Market. The gum was sitting near the checkout counter, just calling my name. So I put one in my pocket. Bazooka gum with comicOn the walk home with my dad, I retrieved the gum and popped it in my mouth. I was smacking away, like 7-year-olds do, when my dad asked me where I got it. “At the store,” I calmly answered. “Did you pay for it?” I could tell by his voice he wasn’t happy with me and I shook my head in reply.

We immediately headed back to the market. I don’t remember Dad saying much, making me imagine what was in store once we got there. Back in the lobby, Dad asked to speak to the manager and told me to explain to him (in front of everyone in the lobby!) what I’d just done. Then he paid a penny for the gum and we left.shameEven at age 7, I was humiliated, horrified that I’d been a bad girl. And to this day I remember that feeling. But mostly what I recall is that Dad seemed disappointed in me. It was a huge lesson learned because I never stole another thing in my life.

Thanks Dad

Thanks Dad

It’s said that honesty is the best policy but I’m not so sure everyone got that memo. Sometimes it seems this particular quality doesn’t appear to be prevalent today. Or maybe the media simply tends to focus on the negative. Who knows?

But it seems we’re constantly hearing about college students cheating on their exams, employees stealing from employers, people lying on resumes. The list goes on. cheatingAnd from what I hear about dating sights, I’d be very suspicious of a photo of a fella claiming to be a 6’2” doctor with thick black hair and ocean blue eyes who loves puppies and taking walks on the beach.

From what I hear from friends who frequent those sights, often who they actually meet doesn’t resemble that description in the slightest. I don’t get it. Don’t people realize their lies will be discovered when they do, in fact, meet? online datingSometimes we’re pleasantly surprised by people’s honest actions. That’s sort of disturbing to me, if you want to know the truth. Shouldn’t it be the norm to be honest? Why does it make the evening news when someone does the right thing and return lost money, for instance?

I read the other day about 3 young roommates who bought a $20 sofa at a thrift shop and discovered, after sitting on a rather lumpy cushion, that they were actually sitting on $40,000 in cash stashed inside the couch. A lot of people would say that was a pretty decent return on a sofa that cost them $20.

Honest roommates

Honest roommates

But here’s the catch: The roommates returned the money. Now don’t get me wrong; they briefly considered what they could buy with that much loot, but unanimously came to the conclusion that, no, it wasn’t their money; they didn’t earn it and had no right to keep it. As admirable as that was, I couldn’t help thinking it was the only correct answer and shouldn’t everyone feel that way? As it turned out, it happened to be the life savings of an elderly woman whose family wasn’t aware of her hidden treasure and donated the sofa she slept on after buying her a bed. Whoa! Close one

But I’m sad to say I wonder how many people would have kept the money and not felt the slightest tinge of regret, remorse or obligation to do the right thingBut then sometimes people do something honorable when they have every reason not to. Take the homeless man in New York who found money on the street – twice. And returned it. Twice.

Now that’s what I call honorable.

What integrity looks like

What integrity looks like

Here’s a guy who has nothing but what’s in his shopping cart yet it never occurred to him to keep the $250 and $485, respectively.

I wonder if having a conscience is a matter of genetics, environmental influences, or a learned behavior? In my case I believe it was learned. My parents taught me right from wrong and it stuck. Simple as that.Anyway, like Martin Luther King, I too have a dream: That someday our society will get to the point where a person who does the right thing isn’t a novelty that makes headlines.

Wouldn’t it be great if an incident of someone NOT returning lost money made the evening news because of it’s rarity? Hey, anything’s possible, right? I, for one, still



2 thoughts on “Honesty is Still the Best Policy

  1. Bravo Janet, Well said! Why are we losing the practice of doing the right thing? Maybe they didn’t have parents that taught them how to do the right thing like some of us did. Thanks to all those moms and dads who did the right thing.

  2. Mandy, I think back then we feared repercussions from our parents. But today it doesn’t seem like many kids are held accountable for their actions. Parents always want to put the blame on anyone but their kid. With so many of our friends being teachers, we hear it all the time, don’t we?

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