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The Diamond Rule?

Matthew Harrison

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I recently read an article about a taxi driver in New York who returned several diamond rings to a customer who had forgotten them in the cab.
Two things stood out for me in this story: the first was the fact that the article noted the customer only gave the driver a 30 cent tip. The reporter implied that because a small tip was given, the cabbie would be justified in taking the misplaced diamond rings. Huh? What kind of logic is that? This completely disregards the concept of moral absolutes and welcomes wishy-washy, self-imagined codes to help determine if an action is right or wrong. It’s preposterous to suggest that because someone may not have been as generous as they could have been, that the so-called victim is justified to extract revenge. In fact, it doesn’t seem as preposterous as it seems childlike and immature; a way of thinking you would find on a playground among four-year-olds.
The other thing that stood out for me is the fact that in most stories that involve a stranger who finds a sum of money or a precious personal item and returns it to the rightful owner, there is the tone disbelief to the article. It’s as if the story says “And can you believe that this guy didn’t take the money?! He returned it to its owner!! He’s either crazy, or he’s a hero!” Then, of course, the author of the article usually crowns the ‘do-gooder’ a hero and an outstanding citizen!
It’s a sad comment on the world around us when someone is applauded for doing what should be natural for all of us to do. Yes, it is noble that the taxi driver went to the trouble of tracking down his fare to return her diamonds; but are we so removed from our values – not just Christian, but values which are written on the human heart – that when someone does what should be expected of him we are taken aback in awe? That is the real news story. Do we expect so little of our neighbour today that doing something right is considered monumental? And how have I contributed to this kind of mentality?
Questions we can contemplate the next time a we crown another hero.

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