Sunday, November 8, 2009


Asteya- Non-Stealing. How do we steal things? Let us count the ways: we steal people's time when we demand too much of their attention, we steal people's energy when we burden them with too many of our problems. We steal extra packets of sugar and napkins from the diner, more than we intend to use at the moment, believing we have the right to do so since we just bought a cup of coffee. We steal food from the world when we pack our plates with more food than we can actually eat at the buffet. We steal water when we leave the faucet running, and energy when we leave the lights on. We steal more than our fair share of oil when we crank the heat on a cold day without putting on a sweater first. We steal fresh air from others when we leave our cars running to jump out for a quick errand. None of these examples are going to hold up in a court of law, as they are not even considered misdemeanors, never mind felonies. What they really are are examples of mindlessness. When we are not paying attention, we are apt to "steal" in some way, to show lack of consideration or even demonstrate a sense of entitlement that is not really ours for the taking. We are all guilty of this from time to time.
Have you ever been to a dinner party where one person did all the talking all evening? It grows tiresome. It robs the host of the opportunity to talk to each guest . It robs the guests of the pleasure of conversing with one another. And it robs us all of our energy as we struggle to stay focused on a talker we have all grown quite tired of.
My latest offense was taking my cousin's dog for a walk at a local park and discovering a dispenser for free doggy poop bags. I thought, "what a great idea!" and got so excited I took five of them to keep in my truck, just in case I need them on future outings! Poop Bags! I stole poop bags to take with me wherever I go with this dog, even though they were provided by the kind, tax-paying residents of my town to keep that particular park clean. Not some other park, somewhere else, some other time! Will I be hung on the town green for this offense? Probably not. But the point is, if everyone helped themselves to as many poop bags as they wanted whenever they chose, there would be none left for that big, giant pile left behind by someone's beloved canine. And we all know what that means: someone is going to step in it!
So if you are still stealing bubble gum and lollipops from the corner store, stop already and move up to the next level. Pay attention.

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