I am sure that everyone has heard the phrase “see a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck”, but does this little phrase actually mean anything bigger?
If, for example, you were to find £50 or £100 on the street would the same thing apply? I found £100 on the street a few months back and there was no one on the street, and so I waited to see if anyone came back looking for it. After around an hour of waiting, I decided to move on – but now I had a new dilemma. Was I meant to keep the money for myself, hand it in to the police or perhaps donate it to a charity or person in need?
Keeping the money myself seemed a little selfish, although I was in dire need of cash at the time. Handing it to the police seemed a little useless as most people would assume that once the money was gone it was gone and it would never get reported and eventually be pocketed by a policeman. Donating seemed like a good, true and honest thing to do – however, the money still wasn’t mine to donate.
As you read this I’m sure some of you are thinking “put the money in your pocket and run” and others are shouting “it’s not yours, leave it alone” – whatever your stand point I’m sure you can see my dilemma.
I’ll explain my decision later.
On the other hand, I have less of an issue if I find a packet of cigarettes dropped on the floor of a pub. If I’d seen them being dropped I would return them but if I just happened upon them, they’d be mine. Wrong? Possibly. Truthful? Yes. However, this could obviously put down to an addiction driven reaction. How about if you find a scarf on the pavement? Or a pair of leather gloves? Now most people leave them on the fence or wall so that they may be reclaimed…but they very rarely are.
Does it change the morality of the situation if the person who finds something is desperate? If a man is struggling to feed his children and steals a loaf of bread – do you judge him as a petty shoplifter or as a man left with no options?
The other question that this bring to mind is whether we should be concerned with who the item or money belonged to. If the bread was stolen from a large corporation, a supermarket, this affects their profit margin almost invisibly. If the bread was stolen from the hands of another man struggling or from an elderly lady then the view changes.
What did I decide to do when I found the money…I split my choices. £20 for charity, £20 to a homeless man, £20 to a friend in need, £20 for myself and £20 left on the street for someone else to have some random luck…and to see if other people battle the same dilemma I did.
At the end of the day, if it doesn’t belong to you, you probably shouldn’t take it…but sometimes we just instinctively react rather thinking of the legal and moral consequences.