This weekend, in Burlington, Vt., with friends, we faced a moral dilemma. It boiled down to the telling of a white lie which, if successful, would have allowed us to collect on something for which we had legitimately paid. Without the lie, we would have been up poop creek without a picnic. I won't go into the details, but you'll have to take my word that there were no nefarious intentions.
In our conversation, one person said, "My mother always said that if you have to ask whether or not something is wrong, you probably already know the answer." This seems like good logic when applied to some situations: On the sidewalk in front of her house, you find your neighbor's two-caret engagement ring, which you know she recently lost. Should you return it? Not even a dilemma. Right? Come on, people.
But what if you buy a used car and, several months later, discover a bag with $5,000 cash tucked inside the wheel well. Do you return it to the previous owner? What if you bought it from a smarmy used-car dealership?
And finally, what if you find a plastic shopping bag stuffed with $5,000 cash on the sidewalk outside of a store in which you just saw a fabulous pair of shoes on sale in exactly your size, but you just spent your last penny on a donation to Greenpeace. The answer, I believe, is obvious. Right?
The picnic, by the way, was splendid. Definitely worth a touch of moral turpitude.