Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
I returned from a business trip a week ago. As I was unpacking my suitcase, I pulled out a pair of pants. I had some change in the pockets and it spilled out on to the floor. The signature clink and clank of pocket change hitting a hard surface echoed throughout my house.
Suddenly I was surrounded by little urchins pouncing upon the loose booty as if this bit of pocket change is all that stood between them and death by starvation. Greedy little hands plucked up the pennies, nickels, and dimes. But the quarters, the quarters were worth fighting for. Two of my kids tried to grab the same quarter at the same time and it started a mini-brawl. I pulled them apart only to have the waterworks and desperate cries for justice to ensue.
I sat them down on the couch and said, "What the heck is going on? Why are you scrounging and fighting over change?"
"Dad! We already emptied the couch and the coins in Mom's car! We need the money!!"
"Why do you need the money?" I asked.
"It is for the American Cancer society for school. Each day we bring in these boxes filled with all the change we can find."
I took that in for a moment and said "I think it is great that you want to support the American Cancer Society, but that doesn't mean you can just take money that doesn't belong to you. That change is my money and you are taking it without asking. Maybe you didn't think of it that way, but what you are doing is stealing. Stealing is a sin."
"But we have to Dad!! It is for school!!"
"Collecting money is fine, but you can't take my money or anyone's money without asking. Period."
"But Dad! The other classes are ahead of us!! We need to catch up!! Can we have the money Dad? Pleeeeaaasssseeee?"
"Okay, you can have it."
A few minutes later my wife walked in the room and I said to my wife, "Honey, I think it is great that the kids want to support the American Cancer Society, but did you know they are robbing us blind?"
"Oh yes. They have stolen every loose coin in the house this week. But this has nothing to do with stopping cancer."
"Oh? Why are they so gung-ho?"
"The school gave the winning class quite the incentive."
"What? A field trip or a day off?"
"No. Something much better. The winning class gets to play in a pool filled with Jell-O. Some evil genius at the school is teaching our children to steal so they can play in a pool of jell-o."
"Wow. That's brilliant. Maybe we should tell them that heaven is one giant pool of Jell-O."
"But that would be lying!"
"I don't know that! The Bible says 'no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.' That could totally be Jell-O."
"Kids!!! Come here!!"