"Do not steal." ~Exodus 20:15
Most, if not all, of us have done it at some point in our lives ~ pocketed a candy bar, swiped a few bucks from mom's purse, stole the credit for something we didn't do. For some it became an addiction. For others, it was a bit of a rush. Some did it on a dare. Others to prove something. Whatever the reason, it seems to be a common thread in humanity, with a rare exception here and there.
Okay, I will make this personal. I can share from both sides of the fence. I know how it feels to have something stolen from me. I've also played the role of "thief". I'll get the more embarrassing one over with first.
I was a freshman in college (old enough to know better), living 200 miles from my hometown. My two room-mates and I wanted a Christmas tree for our little apartment. Our month long break wouldn't begin until one week before Christmas. The more we talked about it, the more determined we grew. We had to get a tree. With no extra cash to spare, we waited until late at night and drove around our sleepy college town, looking for something that would pass as a Christmas tree. Finally we found a sweet little pine tree recently planted in someone's yard. We jumped out of the car and managed to yank that little tree right out of the ground. To make matters worse, we headed to a local diner, knowing they had decorations dangling throughout. While enjoying our midnight ice cream, we managed to load up our purses with tinsel and ornaments.
I'd like to blame our long study sessions on our complete lapse in morality. But that would be heaping a lie onto a theft. Whatever possessed me to do something so wrong? Stupidity comes to mind. Selfishness seems fitting as well. Oh, and wanting my room-mates to like me certainly tops the list. I still feel a wave of regret when I remember that night. But I think that's a good thing ~ it means I have a conscience.
Being on the other end isn't any fun either. I had my wallet stolen a few years ago. In the process, the thief took my money, my "identity", and countless hours trying to deal with dozens of fraudulent activities from that one episode. Until I became a victim myself, I didn't really understand the personal injury it inflicts. There is a feeling of being violated that doesn't go away. You feel a bit less safe and secure. You don't sleep as well as you used to. You're less trusting of others...more suspicious of those you don't know. "Carefree" gets replaced by "cautious". All because someone took something from you.
Recently, my in-laws had a hefty sum of money stolen by someone claiming to be their grandson. He told them he'd been arrested in Canada and needed money to get out of jail. Playing on my in-laws' emotions, he convinced them to wire money for his bail. Wanting to help their grandson out, they fell for what's been dubbed the "Grandparent Scam".
Having stood on both sides of the fence, I can see why "Do not steal" has earned its place among the Ten Commandments. Don't steal! We'll all sleep much better if we honor this eighth Commandment, as individuals and as a society. And I can't help but wonder how some can sleep at all ~ like those who prey on the elderly.
And to the people who woke to discover their little pine tree was missing, my sincerest apologies! You too, little diner. There. I feel much better.
"You can lie, cheat and steal. But you will finish last. An honest, kind and loving person always wins in the long run." ~Author Unknown
"The only thing worth stealing is a kiss from a sleeping child."
"If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need."