** For those of you enjoying my series “To Have and To Hold,” have no fear, more chapters still to come. But today I traveled down a different avenue . . .
I’m sure most of us can remember when we first passed our driver’s test and received our driver’s license. Teen years have their unique set of crazy memories as we plowed through milestone after milestone, but one of the biggest, if not the biggest, for us kids in America is that rite of passage into the driving community. Why?
Because that translates immediately into FREEDOM!
Freedom from our homes, from our parents, from the doldrums.
We have gone mobile, and we can visit friends, head off to the movies, or just show off and cruise around town. And this usually means going on a real date with someone too.
Provided we have gas. And a car, of course. And that means money, we have to have money.
This provides an incentive for work, because we have to pay for everything associated with our ride’s upkeep, or at least those of us who were not spoiled did. We had to work for these things. But it’s totally worth it. This is a big step towards breaking entirely free into our independent existence where we make our own rules.
I do whatever I want now! My home. My car. My rules. Right? At least so far as those rules don’t run too far astray from the rest of society’s rules.
And now that I’m on the other end of the living spectrum, in retirement, I find this sense of freedom has been revitalized. That mini-limo of mine is no longer associated with that commute to the dreaded workplace. I’m freely traveling again. Even more free than before because I have time!
Nestled in my cockpit, I am flying down the highway. Way beyond the city limits. With the music cranked up! State-to-state! Ocean-to-ocean! 😊
So, I have to say, things were a bit off this week when my car was in the shop. It’s a strange feeling when you look out in the drive and your chariot no longer awaits.
At over 200,000 miles, the Prius finally needed a new battery pack. Talk about milestones.
Well one thing that I discovered upon my car’s return was that things were, . . . well they were, . . . well – missing. Something wasn’t right. Missing? Things? Where’s my stuff??
All of those little objects that sit eternally in the periphery of our vision. The little things we add to personalize our drive-space. And the utilitarian objects we pack away in the event of a breakdown. Matches, a candle, some snack food, a water bottle. Maybe a bobble-head on the dash for fun.
What the HELL happened???!!!
Were the not-so-buried artifacts in my car unearthed by some amateur archeologist??? Moved or rearranged to allow for the repair work? Well, not exactly. It seems somebody got it in their head that it was fine to steal cash and other items from my car while it was being repaired.
Meter money is one thing, that doesn’t add up to all that much. But this person had a selective taste for my sunglasses, a wine bottle opener, and a carved-stone figurine – my inanimate travel companion.
I’ve had many a conversation with the Owl perched next to my armrest.
Well shit, what is it that clicks in people’s brains that makes them think that theft is perfectly acceptable? What makes them think they are owed something they didn’t work for? What makes them rationalize away the fact that this is criminal behavior?
I used to teach an ethics class for the juvenile officers in my state, and I would briefly delve into three branches of the moral tree – absolute and relative morality or ethics. And nihilism. Without dusting off the books and going back to college for sixteen weeks of training, it plays out like this.
If you believe in there being a right and wrong, in universal and immutable principles, good versus evil, then you take an absolute or relative view of what actions are in each category and if that category changes given the context of the action. So, for example, the absolutist would tell you that killing another person is wrong, period. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, you simply don’t take another human life.
Whereas the relativist would say that killing someone in sell-defense, or during war, a different context, is perfectly acceptable. The choice becomes good or evil, right or wrong, based upon the context in which the action is taken.
The nihilist would simply say there is no right or wrong, that any and all value systems are baseless. And perhaps, that there is no purpose to life at all.
I really don’t know any nihilists, do you?
I would say most people are relativists. They use the power of rationalization to condone all of their actions as being morally right, or if not morally “right,” at least morally “justified.”
So how do you justify stealing?
Now people will rationalize stealing from organizations or companies or government because these are big, faceless entities. They are not “people.” They have lots of stuff and can surely spare that box of paperclips, or the post-it notes and ink pens, or even a few thousand dollars if you are the county clerk and millions roll through the municipal coffers each year. These entities have insurance to cover such losses too.
Or someone in desperate times might rationalize stealing a loaf of bread if they, or if their children, were starving and they didn’t have the means to buy food. I can even get on board with that one. Hell, I’d buy them more than a loaf of bread.
But what about stealing from other individuals? What about us ordinary hard-working people? How does someone justify stealing from people just like themselves? Is it a relative comparison like, well this guy can afford his car repair, so it’s ok for me to steal $50 worth of his stuff?
I mean, what gives?
Is this just another off-shoot of the capitalistic, materialistic society we live in? Getting ahead by any means is acceptable as long as you’re getting ahead? That relative thought process that people use to justify cheating on college exams and lying on their resumes?
Well, just remember. It’s that time of year when packages start disappearing from people’s front porches too. So keep your guard up. There is no shortage of moral relativists running around.
It seems that even the most responsible of people, when placed in the right circumstances, can justify just about any self-serving evil.
As for the thief that stole from me this week, at some point in time I believe all things that go around come around. That person’s time for the scales to be made equal is out there on the horizon. And they probably won’t see it coming . . .
Photo: My chariot! This 12 year-old car has carried me through some great adventures. Including surviving the climb up a very muddy mountain road during the rain. This pic captures that portion of the road that the Prius was wearing afterwards. 🙂
The repair work this week was expensive, and it will take me a bit to pay it off. I’m not wealthy so any loss is loss.
I had another incident of looting a number of years back that followed an accident. I had to leave my truck on another person’s property until the tow truck got there. I even paid the asshole “rent” for doing so, and while I couldn’t prove it, that guy looted my truck and stole even more stuff than this latest thief. Makes one wonder if other cultures had it right in the days of old when they cut the hands off of thieves.
People’s attitudes seem to be shifting more and more to the dark side right now. Be careful out there.