The other day we took a trip to the local Babies R Us to purchase a BOB stroller. All told, we spent 2 plus hours and nearly 400$. Thoroughly exhausting. As a I was unloading the cart, I noticed a bottle of water. The water, unpurchased, was screaming “ethical test, ethical test”. It felt like one of those interview scenarios where we are tested for character. The little voice in my head told me that “no good deed goes un punished”. “Go in there and something bad is going to happen. You’re going to trip and get hurt, or the store clerk is going to have you arrested for shoplifting.” I made the choice to go in and pay the 2$ for the water. Funny enough, we had to make another trip the next day and they were giving away dozens of free bottles of water. Of course, it was never about the water. Here are 3 reasons why I returned the water, and why you should t0o:
1. Integrity. Integrity is all about how you act when no one is looking. No doubt, I could’ve left without paying. I was tired and ready to go home. No one would have blamed me for not walking back in, waiting in line and paying for the water. I spent well over 300$ and the water was over priced. That’s not the point. When we expect to be dealt with as a professional, with honesty and integrity, the buck stops with “I”! Act the way you want others to act. Practice makes perfect. The more we practice social integrity, the better we will be when faced more complex ethical situations. Remember Enron?
2. I am a recovering hypocrite. As a practicing Catholic, I pray for guidance and the grace to be Christlike. Since God isn’t planning on having me walk on water and raise people from the dead anytime soon (although, how awesome would that be), this means I need to act Christlike in more earthly ways. God gives us these little opportunities to remind us that he is listening. He answers our prayers in his own, humorous ways. My heart grows a little stronger knowing that I did the right thing. I did not fall back on hypocrisy by failing to act. I am better knowing that I will act with integrity and maybe won’t falter when faced with opportunities much larger and with much higher implications than a 2$ bottle of water. Remember to be careful what you ask God for.
3. I am Dad, hear me roar. How can we expect others to do the right thing when we choose to the wrong thing. These moments are great opportunities to teach our kids what “good” looks like. We talk the talk, we must also walk the walk. As the man of the house, Dad is the leader. For most of you out there, life is very busy. I am no exception. I have great plans to teach my kids how to be good little Christians. We pray, we do sacraments, and we go to church on Sundays. Of course, what’s the point of those things? Check a box? No! The point is to act like Christ when we are not in the safe and sterile environment of the church or a Bible bed time story. Me taking back the water is the first step. The next victory is watching my kids take back the water. Remember the “teachable moments”.
Share with me your “watershed moment”. Did you act with integrity? I think the statute of limitations on shoplifting is 7 years and you do have the right to remain silent…
Rocco De Leo