What if you don’t get caught?
I recently witnessed a bit of an argument about ethics. It happened on that great champion of ethical thought and behavior, Facebook, the same place where you can view videos of screaming goats as well as stoned people who just got their wisdom teeth yanked.
You know the Facebook I’m talking about, right?
Anyway…someone posted a link to a website where you can stream films that are currently being shown in theaters, and specifically, an animated children’s film that is very popular right now. Another person responded that it was illegal to do this, that those movies had not yet been released for home viewing and that this constituted theft.
The argument to that was that folks who utilize that site don’t actually download the movies to their computers; they just watch them while streaming. Therefore the person actually doing something prosecutable was the owner of the site, and the people just watching weren’t doing anything wrong.
Someone else mentioned that a lot of pop-ups occur while watching the movies on that site. Porn pop-ups. The original poster said she dealt with that by keeping the screen maximized so that the pop-ups would land behind the movie screen and her small child wouldn’t be able to see them. It was pointed out to her that the site was likely downloading viruses and spyware onto the computers that click on the links to see those movies free.
None of these arguments seemed to make much of an impact.
I’ve thought about it many times today. Some folks judge the ethics of a situation by “who will it hurt?” or “will I get caught?” Our culture seems to encourage this.
I can’t get past “who will it dishonor?”
If I do a certain thing, will I dishonor the person God made to be, even if I’m not quite that person yet?
Will I dishonor the lawgivers of the land, who make laws to protect those who would otherwise be cheated or harmed in some way?
Will I dishonor those who think the best of me?
Will I dishonor God?
I don’t know if the answers are the same for everybody. The part of me that leans toward black-and-white thinking wants to declare that there is RIGHT and there is WRONG and there’s nothing in between, so throw those lawbreakers in jail! But the full Kodachrome heart of me knows it’s better to whisper grace…and purpose to live my own life in a way that calls up those around me to be their best self at all times and spurs them to live in honor in such a way that all things dishonorable will bring unbearable discomfort.
I don’t want a harvest of thievery or questionable ethics in my life. No weedy corners or swampy ditches.
I want to sow honor so that I can reap honor.
Broad, glorious fields of it.