Becoming Our Best

"A MORAL QUANDARY"


Recently I was on a plane flight across the country. As we arrived at the airport, I noticed an expensive pen lying on the floor ahead of me between the seat and side of the plane. I asked the people sitting in that row if they had lost a pen. "No" was the reply. Now what?

One part of me wanted to be sure to return the pen to its proper owner. Another part of me wanted to make sure that, if the proper owner didn't identify the pen, I would get it. So, I called the airline and asked if someone had lost a pen. The agent explained that the procedure was that I should just send the pen to them, with the flight number, and, if someone identified the pen, it would be returned to them. I asked what happened if no one identified it. In that case, the airline keeps the pen.

I explained to the agent that I would be happy to give them my name and telephone number; and if someone identified the pen, I would return it to the person or the airline. "Not possible" was the reply. Next, I found a telephone number in the airline's system for lost and found and called it. "The mailbox for lost items is full" was the recorded response.

This situation has caused a certain amount of reflection and discussion among those I've described it to. Stop for a moment and think about what you would do, if you'd found the pen.

Here are some thoughts about how to discern the best answer:

Talk with friends, co-workers or relatives to get their ideas about what to do.

Pray, reflect or meditate as a way to discern your appropriate response.

Ask yourself what you'd want to happen if you were the person who lost the pen.

Look at the situation as if it were 5 years from today. What looks like the best course of action from that vantage point?

Just so you know, the responses from my friends, relatives and co-workers ranged from, "Oh just take the pen. People lose things like that all the time and simply give them up as gone forever.", to "Send the pen to the airline like they asked", to "Give the pen to a worthy charity to be sold at auction".

If you are inclined to, please give me your thoughts about what to do.

Author: Bruce Johnsen Management Consultant:
824 Munras Ave Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940
831-373-5969
bruce@brucejohnsen.com

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