Sunday, July 20, 2008

How To Teach Honesty

When Patricio was 11, he went to the store with two of his friends. One of them, Michael, put a candy bar in his pocket. “Grab one Patricio, c’mon. And we’ll take off!” Patricio looked at Michael and remembered ...

When he was six he visited a homeless shelter with his mother, where she volunteered as a cook twice a week. Patricio's first visit was scary and he stayed close to his mother. “Who are these people? he asked. “They are people and they need our help. We are the kind of peopl who help others,” she told him.

When he was eight he went to a neighborhood meeting and watched as his father stood up and spoke on behalf of a halfway house that wanted to move into the neighborhood. “We all have struggles in our lives,” his father had said, the only neighbor not in opposition. “We have to do what is right not just for us but for our community.”

On the way home Patricio asked his father why he had supported something so unpopular. “Because we do what we think is right in this family, not just what is popular. That’s the kind of people we are.”

A few months later Patricio went to the supermarket with his mother. When they got to the check stand she asked that some of the food be put into a separate bag. On the way home his mother drove down a street Patricio didn’t recognize. She stopped at a home and took one bag of groceries to the door, then came back to the car.

“Why did you have to give food to those people?” he asked. “I didn’t have to Patricio  they are a family that has had a difficult time. We can afford to help them. That’s the kind of people we are.”

His family had limits on how far Patricio was allowed to go on his bike. Yet, Patricio rode downtown one day when he wasn’t supposed to. What he didn’t know was that a family friend had seen him. At dinner his father asked what he had done that day. “Not much,” Patricio answered. When asked about whether he went downtown, Patricio lied. His father didn’t become angry, he just looked as his son, puzzled.

“ Patricio,” he asked, “are we the kind of people who lie?” Patricio felt his face get hot. “No Dad,” he said.

Now, in the store, Patricio was with his two friends feeling the pressure to steal the candy.
“I don’t even want one,” Patricio finally said. “Besides, I don’t steal. That’s not the kind of people we are.”

No comments: