Posted December 27, 2007
Honesty, the Blest Policy
A team of Reader’s Digest editors staged a country-wide test of honesty by “losing” 120 wallets in public places in twelve U.S. cities. Each wallet contained $50 in cash along with a name, local address, and phone number; coupons; notes; and family photos. Surveillance teams noted behavior patterns of each “lucky” finder. Surprisingly, two out of three of the wallets were returned intact to the “owner.” Some finders even refused the offer of a $50 reward.
Two conclusions were derived from the experiment: First, even dishonest people have a functioning conscience. The furtive glances and attempts at concealment observed in the dishonest finders indicated that they knew they were doing wrong. “A sense of shame is not a bad moral compass,” wrote General Colin Powell.
The second conclusion: The conscience is refined primarily by moral training in one’s childhood. Most of the honest finders, when interviewed, said that their desire to do the morally right thing had been instilled in them early in life by their parents. “Train a child in the way he should go,” says God’s word, “and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prv 22:6).
In the blunt words of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, “One always knows the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” Yet, those who seek God’s help are promised sufficient strength to resist temptation (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
“One-Minute Meditations for Busy People”