Some time ago I talked about the man who found two hundred and forty thousand dollars. It had dropped out of an armored truck – and he returned it, intact, to its rightful owners. He was paid a return of ten thousand dollars for his prompt honesty and given a job. He had been out of work at the time he found the money. This made his honesty all the more remarkable.
After this event, another news story about this man appeared on the front pages of the country’s newspapers. It quoted him saying he wished he had never found the money. From the time the news story broke, he and his family had been continually annoyed. People told them what a fool he was for returning the money.
He has received hundreds of telephone calls, some of them obscene, telling him how wrong he was.
His children had been unmercifully badgered at school, with the other children calling them stupid – and so on.
He has let all of this bother him. Emerson wrote about this sort of thing. While I don’t have his essay handy, it tells
We don’t go far enough in teaching our children why it is essential to be honest.
Teachers tell them in church, in Sunday school, in the classroom. We tell them at home that “honesty is the best policy.” Which is fine – but doesn’t go far enough. We frequently don’t tell them why “honesty is the best policy.” The reason more parents and teachers don’t get this across is that too many don’t know why.
The best way I’ve found to get this across is to use the parallel of the boomerang. Everybody knows what a boomerang is. Most people have been hit in the head with the one to which I’m referring. It frequently hits them so hard and painful; they don’t recognize it.
Performing a dishonest act is like throwing a boomerang – the worse the act, the bigger the boomerang!
While no one knows how far it will travel before returning, it must return to deliver its painful blow to the back of the head.
These immature nonentities, who waste everybody’s time and attention by criticizing an honest man, are nothing. They are unimportant in the world. They go through life wading in the shadows of their ignorance and wondering why they never find their feet on solid ground, or see the light of joy and truth and happiness. Fortunately, they are gradually fading out. In the meantime, you should ignore them, pity the
Thackeray wrote: “The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it, in turn, will look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion.”