Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Doing the right thing

Friday June 19th #18

Today I want to talk to you about doing the right thing. And this is going to be a difficult thing for you to get your little head around because sometimes it's not clear what the right thing to do is and sometimes it seems more tempting and even more rewarding to do the wrong thing.

I have spent the last two days in London. On the train down one of my colleagues left his kindle on the train.

(A kindle is an electronic book and whether that's right or wrong is something I might talk about later. Your mum is a big fan of kindles. I prefer books. Kindles might have overtaken books by the time you read this which would be a terrible shame.)

Kindles aren't too expensive, equally they're not the type of thing you want to lose. When we were ready to leave London, my colleague decided to check at the station and see if anyone had been kind enough to hand his in.

To his amazement, they had. And this is a lovely and important thing. It restored his faith, a little, in people and it was a pleasant reminder, in a world where often people are dishonest, that there are some good people left.

I must have had but of a habit of putting things in my pocket when I was little. Apparently I once walked out of the doctors will a little yellow man in my pocket. He's one of the strangest little toys I had. He only just looks like a man and he is tiny. My mum didn't make me take him back because he wasn't even a proper toy. 

I think your grandma regretted her decision though. I spent half my time playing with him and half my time losing him. I had a toy box which is probably yours by now, my granddad made it. And my mum once found me upside down in it with my legs hanging out. I was probably trying to find my little yellow man. (Of course, I still have him.  Eventually I found a toy car he could fit in and I kept him in there so I wouldn’t lose him).

When I was at Mrs Pollard's nursery school, I saw a toy car that I liked, so once again I put it in my pocket and took it home. I think I did know that stealing was wrong but I didn't see it as stealing as I'd watched that car and nobody played with it and it didn't really belong to anyone as far as I could tell.  The way I think I saw it was that nobody lived at the nursery so no one really owned the toys which were there.

I don't think I hid it from my mum and when she saw it, to my horror, she made me take it back the next day. This was a hard lesson. I didn't see why I shouldn't have that car and I didn't think I was doing any harm. But it was the wrong thing to do and I returned the car.

At some point later, my mum did buy me the same car. Maybe that was to reward me for doing the right thing and taking it back. I don't know. I still have that car which one day I will show you.

Now life does have its ways of teaching us lessons we don't always want to learn. When I was at university one of my friends was walking down the street and he saw a cyclist ride past. As they rode they dropped some money. He picked it up, thought for a moment about calling the cyclist, then changed his mind and put the sixty pounds in his pocket.

You might not believe me but this is a true story. A couple of weeks later he was out and he lost his wallet. He had sixty pounds in his wallet and he never found it and no one returned it to him.

I have mentioned karma to you before and this might be karma or it might just be coincidence. The truth of the matter is that it's always important to do the right thing. It might seem wrong at the time, it might seem like you're getting something for nothing, you might gain something that you really really want and find it difficult to part with. None of that matters.

If you lost or misplaced something you would hope that someone was good and decent enough to return it. You should also do the same thing. Always treat people how you would expect to be treated and always try to help out. You don't know the impact of someone losing something and not having it returned could have on their lives. Equally returning it will make them feel a little better about the world, just like my colleague. And it's these little acts which happen occasionally, which make this life that you now have, so very very special.