A Petty Thief Inside Me

Dr. Michael LaitmanQuestion: Let’s say that an adult steals something. The usual approach is moralizing and intimidation: “Thou shall not steal! It’s bad, you’ll get arrested.” How can we work with that in an integral system of upbringing?

Answer: We organize a trial. The only question is: Who is under trial?

We shouldn’t hide the fact that each of us has a hidden impulse to steal. Each of us has taken something, has stolen something somewhere, at some point. And even if someone denies that, it simply means that the person is lying to himself and to others, or possibly isn’t even noticing it, which happens often.

“From where do we get this quality? Is it useful or harmful? What does it actually mean, “stealing”? Is it mine or someone else’s? Maybe this isn’t someone else’s?” Initially it is necessary to discern all these primary states and positions based on an absolutely objective picture without emphasizing anyone or anything, abstractly: What are these categories of “stealing,” “honesty,” and so on?

After that we analyze a specific incident, also without relating to any particular person because this could happen to anyone. We require each of the participants to place himself in the shoes of the culprit, to feel it through, to defend himself, to accuse himself, and so on.

We all live through this incident together. These are the conditions that were set up for us, and that is why we need to learn from this example. We should even be grateful to our friend for this act, which we experience as if we committed it ourselves.

Since we are all integrally connected within one system, in one group, we should then ask ourselves: “How could we have brought our friend to such a state?” This means that society is to blame. A person is a reflection of the environment in which he lives. It turns out that quite possibly he isn’t at fault at all! The problem is in us! In other words, any such occasion could help us clarify a lot of problems, to review our values and relationships.

In the end we should come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as individual wrongdoing or individual good, kind acts: All of that is merely a consequence of the influence of the environment. Thus, everyone should be under trial.

If we come to that point, everyone would feel that this petty thief lives inside each of us, and so he manifests in some of us, perhaps in the most impressionable individual. Can you imagine what kind of a field opens up for clarifications and analyses?

However, we must exit this state with only one conclusion: Everyone is to blame! If it’s a group, a society, or a class in which everyone is interconnected and undergoing the process of integral unification, everyone is at fault. There is no such thing that some one person is better or worse: It is all of us who are either better or worse.

Grades have no place here. You cannot give individual grades in such a society because you’re grading the society itself and not an individual.

Question: Does that mean that after the discussion I have to return whatever I stole, or is it sufficient to just come to realization?

Answer: You personally do not need to do anything. This is decided by everyone. You need to clarify everything collectively, and if it’s necessary to pay for the stolen items, then everyone pays together. If we come to a conclusion that everyone is to blame for this action, that means that everyone is responsible for it.
From a “Talk on Integral Education” #5, 12/13/11

Related Material:
Reflections On Ethics
An Incident On The Street
Reaching Agreement Above All Contradictions

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