Last week I stole a book.
July 29, 2013
Last Friday, as I was leaving the Path Train, coming to work, I noticed a hard cover book under one of the benches. I was just about the last person to leave the train. I looked at the title and concluded that it was definitely a book that I would read and be happy to own. I took it, put in my briefcase and walked away.
There were most likely some witnesses that could (or still can) attest to my theft.
I can fanaticize headlines saying “Ethics officer of a reputable PR firm caught stealing or “Ethics Blogger? A hypocrite!”
Let’s consider theft.
What does stealing mean? I think that taking something that is not yours is a good definition. The book was definitely not mine, so my action of taking it could qualify in the eyes of many, and probably in your eyes as well, as theft.
But what does “taking” mean. The definition is more complex and opens the door to many possibilities of “what ifs”.
What if I happen to know who was the owner of the book?
What if my intention was to return it to its rightful owner?
It was and I did.
The book was a New York Public Library book!
Appearances can be deceiving and that is why we are not to judge.
As British comedian and musician Billy Connolly once said: “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!”