Thursday, February 7, 2008

Speaking of Bars

Do you have bars? I am not talking about the drinking establishments or those little things on your cell phone. I am talking about those bars that we all have that represent our goals or Ideals that we set for ourselves. They are those things that we strive for as compared to where we are right now. Some would say “I am exactly where I want to be” but I am sure if these people were honest with themselves, they would see that there is always room for improvement.

Recently a certain President (I am not saying names here because I want to keep this non political) said that we are making headway in the war. In the perspective he used he was right. A few days later one of the candidates referred to that statement and said: That’s only compared to where we were last year. We have lowered the bar so low that any little progress is acceptable. I had to agree with that and it made me think about bars, and our little lines between right and wrong.

Each of us has bars or goals that we strive for in our lives. Yours may be set high or low but remember, they determine just how far you will go. If we set out to run a race and your goal is to beat a 10 minute mile, it is doubtful that we will achieve a 5 minute mile. If a 10 minute mile is acceptable to you then you are happy if you ran the race in 9.59 minutes. However a person who finished right next to you may not be satisfied because he was trying for a 9 minute mile.

On our quest to reach these life goals, we have lots of little lines that guide us. They are like the lines along the edge of a road. We know we must not cross those lines on our race to the finish line in order to stay on track. These little lines are the lines between right and wrong. Each of us has these lines as well and they are based on our upbringing and shaped by our environment. For example let’s look at stealing.

God Says that we shouldn’t steal. Our laws say we shouldn’t steal. Even if you are not a religious person, you probably believe that stealing is wrong. Most people do so the problem here is not with the “value” it is with the interpretation of what constitutes stealing or where we each of us puts that line. Humans have the ability to not only distinguish between right and wrong but analize a situation and make our own judgment. Since most of us believe that stealing is wrong let’s see where you place your line.

Is it Not true that Not giving back is the same as stealing? Wow I should have been a lawyer. :) Is finding money and keeping it stealing? The saying “Finders keepers” is on the same page where it is stated “Life is fair”. I know who made both of those statements but I will save that for another post. Let’s just say that “Page” doesn’t exist. Life isn’t fair and finders should not be keepers. Here is a test. (Now maybe you will pay attention in class)

You find 20 dollars in a parking lot. Is it yours?

You find the same 20 dollars but there is a young lady standing near it searching through her purse that probably dropped it. Is it still yours?

You see the young lady drop the 20 dollars. Do you still keep it?

You see this lady is driving a Mercedes is covered in jewelry and has a purse full of money and you are flat broke. Do you keep it?

What if she just cursed you out because you took her parking space? Would you still approach her again and tell her she dropped some money?

Most people have a breaking point. A point in our minds where we justify keeping the money. We rationalize that we “deserve” this money more than someone else and should keep it. We position our line so that we are still on the good side. So here is one last example to think about.

What if there were numerous things stacked against this person. What if there were so many reasons for you to keep the money that you could easily rationalize keeping it. But What if someone was watching? What if someone saw her drop that money and saw you pick it up. They probably won’t say anything but they did see it. Would you then do the right thing and give it back? No “what if” about it. Someone did see it. He’s waiting for you to make the right choice.

I will leave you with a story.

Some years ago, we took the boys to Disneyland. During the day, we made our way down to Main Street to watch the parade. We got there early and took a seat on the curb right up front. I got some great pictures of the characters as well as the boys enjoying the parade. After it was over we headed out to get something to eat. Suddenly, I realized that I no longer had my camera. I had left it on the curb when I got up. I rushed back to where we had been sitting but as I figured my camera along with the pictures from that day were gone. I was sick to my stomach as it was an expensive camera but more so because of the pictures that were lost.

After we ate, we were walking down Main Street again and I spied the Lost and Found sign. I really thought it was a waste of time but I dropped in anyway just to ask. I told the man at the counter that I had lost a camera and he asked a bunch of questions about what kind it was and where I lost it. Then he said he would go back and look. After a few moments he returned with my camera. I asked who had returned it so that I could write and thank them but he said the man didn’t want to leave his name. That’s ok God knows who he is.

Now if you are saying that a camera is different than 20 dollars I have to tell you that you flunked the test.(caught you with your guard down)But don’t worry you can take it again. In fact you can take this test over and over and over again. Good luck.

Have a wonderful day.

PS don’t worry it is an "Open Book" test.


Kathy said...


Kati said...

Great post, Greg. What my parents (devout christians as they are) taught me, and I have tried to teach my daughter, about the $20 question is this: If you can honestly say that you've made a true attempt (or multiple) to find the true owner of the $20, and one cannot be found, then you are free to keep the money. If you've made no attempt to find the owner, or if you were dishonest about it in any way, then it's no better than stealing money from somebody else. There comes a point, though, where it is truly impossible to do the most perfect right thing (as busy intersection & you find a crumpled muddy piece of money in the gutter, who does it belong to?) but you should always try to do what is right within the boundaries you've been given.

That said, I would hope that if I wound up keeping the $20 because I'm unable to find the owner, I wouldn't go blow it on frivolous junk, but instead use it on something needed (toward the grocery budget, or a small extra-payment on a credit-card bill), or even give it to somebody less fortunate than myself. (A grocery gift-card for a homeless person, for example.) These options would be doing the MOST right thing, in an imperfect situation.

Kim S in SC said...

This very day a check written to me and signed fell out of my purse when I grabbed something out of it. A young teenager at my school, who many may look at and think "thug" called out to me and returned my $50 check! It made me so happy, not so much about the check, but about the boy who was labeled as a trouble-maker.

Wanda said...

Wouldn't it be interesting if everyone who had taken "$20" would double it in the offering plate at church next Sunday.

Greg, this was so good and throught provoking...Yes, we may all have to start calling you Preacher Greg!!
Amen and Amen!!
LOL Wanda

Mom23QTs said...

Am I about to become a preachers daughter? LOL Great post Dad! I have a religious post coming out today, I hope you reading. VERY much looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Love ya!

Celticspirit said...

Great story Greg about your camera. It's obvious that the person who returned it only wanted you to get it back and did not need any recognition. Awesome.

Celticspirit said...

Great story Greg about your camera. It's obvious that the person who returned it only wanted you to get it back and did not need any recognition. Awesome.

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