A Practice in Forgiveness
A Practice in Forgiveness
A humanist perspective
By Kathy Mcdermant
I like to think of myself as at least a somewhat decent woman. I care about others feelings, I recycle even when no one is looking, and if I see that someone’s shoes are untied, I tell them. I even run a column not so humbly titled “A humanist perspective”. My priority is indeed people, at least that is what I like to think. The truest test of character comes in the face of adversity, everything else is just for show.
Today my cell phone was stolen. I know right? Honestly a cell phone is an unnecessary commodity. I don’t need it; it isn’t going to save my life, if I am hungry I cannot eat it. The problem is not that the device was essential to me, it is not even that I cannot afford a new one. If we break things down to their simplest form, the problem is that someone else has something that I want.
Yes the phone was mine, yes I paid for it, and yes, I do have the right to expect no one to take it from me. But I am not entitled to it. Did you know that the computing power in an IPhone is greater than that of the equipment’s that launched the first rocket? Of course you did, you probably looked it up on your IPhone. How could anyone possibly make a valid argument that I need something like that? They can’t. I do not need my IPhone, and I suspect that no one else does either.
Reasonable enough right? The IPhone is without question a practice in over indulgence, and in a world where there are a very limited number of resources to go around, there simply is no room for such things. So you’re probably proud of me right now. “Wow,” you say to yourself, “that Kathy sure handles things well. She has a level head and can indeed handle the heat of the kitchen”. Well you’re wrong, and perhaps mildly schizophrenic.
I did not handle myself with dignity or any sort of basic decency really. Instead I borrowed a friend’s phone, and I called my number over, and over, and over again. I dialed that number until I got tired of dialing that number, and then I dialed it some more, until finally I could take no more of it. So I did what any child of the digital age would do. I started texting. “I lost my phone, if you have found it please return it to the lost and found, thank you.” Reasonable enough. After all, I had left it on a chair in the library; it wasn’t entirely fair of me to assume that it had been taken. I had checked the lost and found without success, but that didn’t mean anything. Why at that very moment someone could have been scouring the campus, desperately trying to find the lost and found so that they could return the phone I had misplaced.
But they weren’t. I knew it, they knew it, and if the government is squandering our money on cell tracking half as well as they used to, Obama knew it too. I knew that my phone was stolen when its new owner answered one of my many phone calls, and then hung up. Bold isn’t it? So I sort of threatened them…. “Return my phone to the lost and found and I will forget all about it….that is the only way that I will forget all about it…” And that’s the best that I could come up with.
Oddly enough the threat of me remembering how I don’t have a cell phone did nothing to retrieve it for me. So I tried again. This time a tried a nicer approach. “I’m sorry that I have to be this way. I’m not trying to get you in trouble; I just want my phone back. God Bless.”…..hahaha. Yeah. That didn’t work either. So I gave up. No response, no phone, and in my mind, no justice.
So what’s the take away here? Well the way I see it, there were two victims today. Obviously I am one of them, but you’ve already heard all about that. The other is the young sir or madam that helped themselves to my phone. If you all are like me you are probably at your computers right now thinking to yourselves that you could never steal someone else’s phone, or steal anything for that matter. I couldn’t either, in fact I can hardly fathom it. SO think of what the life of the person who can must be like. Something is missing for them. Maybe its money, maybe it’s a strong moral compass (perhaps an absent parental unit) or maybe even just a general lack of guidance. Whatever it is, they have made an unusual decision, and one that reflects a difficult living circumstance. Something is missing, that is why they had to take more. And whatever it might be that they are looking for, I can tell you this, it will be much harder to find than a new phone.