Often, for the sake of our own convenience we forget about our basic responsibilities to ourselves as well as to others. We betray our honesty, integrity and self-respect. "The Honesty Box" is an inspiring experience about adhering to principles in the face of excuses and temptations.
While driving through the countryside in Western Australia, we came across an interesting signage at the entrance to a park. Painted on a cheerfully decorated box were the words 'HONESTY BOX', followed by the entrance fees per vehicle, adult and child, etc. There was no one manning the entrance to the park which was very neatly groomed. The park was situated off the main road, in a quiet and wooded location. Of course, one can ignore the HONESTY BOX and drive through without paying, and nobody would have noticed. But he would have failed the honesty test. In fact, he would have failed more than just the honesty test.
Recently, John told me about an incident that took place in a multi-storey car park. After parking his car, he realized that the two cars on either side of the lot were parked too close and he had difficulty getting out of his car. He decided to park elsewhere and while turning a tight corner he accidentally hit one of the two cars. The damage was severe and it was an expensive car: a Mercedes Benz.
At that moment, his immediate thoughts were that he should take responsibility for the damage. On the other hand, he could evade responsibility and drive away. After all, nobody saw what happened and it would save him the time, money and a lot of hassle. And to justify the evasion, he could have consoled himself that it was just tough luck for the Benz as accidents such as this are part and parcel of driving. It happens all the time. When he was at the receiving end of similar accidents in the past, no one ever owned up. So, driving away would be perfectly "fine". He had to make a decision quickly in case someone else shows up. To drive away was obviously the easier choice. On the other hand, it may save him time and money, but on the other, it would cost him a lot more - his honesty, his integrity and most important of all, his self-respect!
He placed his phone number on the windscreen of the Benz. Sure enough, a lady called soon after. John was prepared to face the wrath of the owner but instead, he found himself apologizing to a lady who was obviously grateful for the note. She was far from fuming, and was polite and thankful for his honesty. She didnít expect anyone to own up for an accident like this. Eventually, the repairs to the Benz and his own car cost John $1000.
Though poorer by a thousand dollars, John was beaming with pride. He was obviously happy with himself that he did not betray his honesty, integrity and self-respect for the sake of convenience. The account touched me as much as it did the lady. The HONESTY BOX is our honesty, integrity and self-respect. They are universal and priceless virtues and should not be casually disregarded or exchanged for something else, least of all for the sake of our own convenience. When people lose their HONESTY BOX, they in fact lose a lot more than they will ever know.
I write this article with pride because I know John very well. He is a dear friend of mine. He is also my brother.