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The Word on the Week

Just the Ticket

The age-old dilemma of what to do when you find something valuable got some publicity this week when a winning lottery ticket was left behind in the shop where it was sold. “Finders keepers, Losers weepers!” – is the children’s version of morality but would it become the adult’s version also if the ticket is worth €350,000? To be honest or not to be honest is the question. Of course to be dishonest and keep the ticket would involve lying but the escalation of wrongdoing did not seem to enter into the thinking of those interviewed by the journalist as to what they would do. The majority said they would keep the ticket. They reasoned that the Lotto was all about luck and they were lucky to find the ticket. In answer to the question, “What would you give to the owner of the ticket?” the answer varied from €500 to half the prize money! Of those who would return the ticket, superstition played a large part in their motivation. “It wouldn’t be lucky to keep it.” One claimed his conscience wouldn’t let him keep it. “I’d be guilt ridden for the rest of my life.” Another inadvertently illustrated the elasticity of his conscience by asking for his name to be withheld as he was working and signing on the dole! His justification when told that he was stealing? “That’s different, it’s not my fault the Government made the mess they did!” It is perhaps unfair to use this episode as a litmus test of national morality! Those who excused dishonesty on the basis that we are talking about a Lottery, which itself has been described as “stealing by mutual consent” could be said to have a point! With 3 of the 10 commandments in tatters the Bible is unlikely to give its blessing to the shenanigans. However it is more likely to commend the Indian immigrant who, when interviewed, said his soul wouldn’t let him keep it. There would not have been a story if the shop assistant who found the ticket hadn’t been honest and tracked down the owner and returned it to him. Perhaps like the Indian he too had regard for his soul…as Jesus said “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? As St Peter put it referring to Jesus: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Follow Jesus.