Does A Locked Bicycle Make An Honest Person Honest?

Will A Locked Bicycle Make an Honest Person Honest?

zzz2I remember many years ago having a discussion with a dormmate about how one would define honesty and integrity.

Before I talk too much about honesty, I’d like to definite it. According to Wikipedia, Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc.

Our debate focused on true examples of honesty and dishonesty. As an example of my definition of honesty, I thought a locked bicycle would keep an honest person honest. This was something I read or heard growing up and still being young and naïve, regurgitated that statement without strong critical thinking.

zzz1My friend across the hall adamantly opposed my logic. His thesis was that if one is truly honest, it should make no difference whether a bicycle is locked or unsecured. If you are honest, you don’t touch someone else’s personal property regardless of the situation (unless of course you’re bringing it to the lost and found or trying to find the true owner). Besides bicycles, this approach could apply to unclaimed backpacks, various technology hardware, lost purses or wallets.

In retrospect, I’m aligned to his thesis that an honest person will not usurp someone else’s property whether it’s secure or not. Being 19 at the time, I wasn’t completely ready to deeply internalize and objectively evaluate his viewpoint on honesty.

Today, I may walk by an unsecured expensive bicycle in a park and think to myself, where is the owner, I could just pedal away on that beauty! That could be the first thing that comes to mind, I could grab this item without any criminal repercussions. If that thought comes to mind, I’d reckon it’s the ID taking control as Freud stated, the ID being the primitive and instinctual part of one’s mind.

zzz4Of course, when someone acts upon their devious or unlawful thoughts, it’s lacking integrity if not honesty. Never showing up on the police beat doesn’t mean one is honest, it perhaps means they’re good at their craft or have not yet been caught. I can’t speak for others but I wonder how many upstanding citizens have a quick snapshot about grabbing something of value that’s not theirs. After pushing aside the ID and engaging in rational thought, realize taking something that does not belong to you is not of moral character and would lack integrity, truthfulness and straightforwardness.

Again, I lock my bike or car or secure my wallet (especially in high petty theft places) not to protect myself against the honest individuals, but to protect against the dishonest.