I used to steal.
Years ago, when I worked for a clothing store, one of my coworkers convinced me that stealing from the company was my right. Here’s how he justified the act:
“You see, Shah. What we do is not stealing because, first, this company marks up the resale values of all the clothing by 100% and makes a lot of money. So, stealing a few items here and there will not hurt them at all. Second, these people expect us to steal because they only pay us minimum wage. “
Does the above logic justify stealing?
It sure satisfied me. I became an expert in ripping off the store. I went to work wearing my old clothes, chose whatever I wanted off the rack, and in opportune time walked into the dressing room, and changed to my new outfit. At the end of my shift, I walked out of the store wearing brand new shirts, pants and coats without having to spend a penny.
I was convinced I was entitled to the merchandise. It was my right to have the new clothing, however, at the same time, I had no obligation to the company that had employed me.
I felt like Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor – ME.
In those days, the majority of my coworkers did not share my entitlement attitude. But, these days things are quite different.
Today, the Josephson Institute of Ethics released the findings of the first-ever large-scale study of the relationship between high school attitudes and behavior, and later adult conduct.
“The report showed that during 2008, 64% cheated on an exam, 42% lied to save money, and 30% stole something from a store. This new study reveals a close connection between youthful attitudes and behavior and continuing patterns of dishonesty as young people enter the adult world. The survey found that current age and attitudes about the need to cheat and actual high school cheating are significant predictors of lying and cheating across a wide range of adult situations.”
Why the change?
First, let me tell you what changed me and then offer you my opinion for the above question.
As soon as I became a follower of Christ, an inner-voice convicted me of my flawed logic. Nobody lectured me on it. I didn’t hear a “fire and brimstone” message on what happens to thieves. I simply knew I was guilty of stealing. So, I quit. I stopped cheating, lying and stealing to bring honor to my Lord.
What does my conversion have to do with 30% of high school students stealing from stores? If you look at the Ten Commandments, much of it has to do with the wellbeing of the community. I believe the farther our nation gets from God, the more entitlement-minded we become. The more one feels he deserves to have something he hasn’t earned, the more cheating, lying and stealing will take place – acts that eventually will pull communities apart from one another.