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Success Harmony Newsletter
"THE HONEST FRUIT STAND"
the news media ensures that we feel afraid of our world. Every day, we
see a report of a new bombing in Iraq, another slaying of an innocent
kidnapped child, or another little old lady getting robbed of her life
savings by an unscrupulous financial advisor. It's no wonder that many
of us respond by living behind gates, having unlisted phone numbers, and
preferring that our children play mind-numbing video games indoors than
venture out to play hopscotch or tag on neighborhood streets.
In this type
of environment, it warms my heart when I see someone steadfastly refusing
to give in to the mass mistrust. I just came across an example of this
in the Catskill Mountains in New York, not too far from our house in the
mountains. The house is in the middle of nowhere, which is great for views
but a little challenging for buying groceries and other necessities. So,
when I came across a new fruit and vegetable stand, I was quite excited.
That is, until I became confused when I stopped by in the middle of the
day but could not find anyone serving the stand. After looking around
for another while, I saw a "self-serve" sign. I assumed that
this meant that I should load up with the veggies I wanted, and that eventually
someone showed up. I started putting these lovely organic vegetables and
fruits in the bags provided by the stand, and then I stopped dead in my
tracks as my eyes fell on a cash box. It was an old, beat up metal box
with a piggie-bank-like slot in the middle which was unmistakably meant
for cash. There was a metal lock on the box but the box itself didn't
really seem fastened to anything. After what seemed like an eternity during
which my brain was trying to place this event within its experience of
the world, I finally understood. This fruit stand really was as self-serve
as you could get. You pick what you want. You weigh what you got. You
calculate what you should pay, based on the prices written on the boxes.
And then, you put in the metal box the amount that you calculated. Easy.
this much trust put in me, I did as I was asked. I ensured I put in the
exact amount I owed and I drove off. I had a big smile on my face for
the rest of the day, feeling very happy that there was someone left in
this world willing to place a bet that, when push comes to shove, most
humans will take the honest path. During one of my later visits to the
stand, I actually ran into the girl who owns the stand and I asked her
how this honor system has been working out for her. She said that most
people pay what they should. And, she shrugged her shoulders, if someone
really needs the food so badly and can't afford to pay, oh well. She was
unwilling to change her systems just because some people wouldn't play
stand has made me think of how much trust I have in the world around me.
I don't know that I would be willing to leave out all of my possessions
on a street corner just yet (after all, I still wear the "don't you
trust nobody" scars from growing up in a country where leaving a
car unattended for 10 minutes meant that it would likely be stripped of
windshield wipers and hubcaps by the time you got back). But I am doing
some things a little differently. Maybe locking the car is unnecessary
when I am in the country and really have nothing worth stealing inside
anyway. Maybe leaving for 15 minutes to go to a store while the cleaning
lady is in the house doesn't automatically mean she will clean out all
the drawers in the meantime. So far, I am experimenting with this concept,
but I like the results. Somehow, in some small way, I even feel closer
to the people around me, strangers and all. And I'm thinking that maybe
we don't all need to give in to cutting each other off in life because
we fear what that tiny minority of malicious people may do to us.
me of the John Lennon "Imagine" song. It may sound rather idealistic
and even naïve. But what a neat concept to imagine that perhaps we
would be willing to let our children play on the streets again rather
than hide them in our home fortresses for fear that someone will do something
bad to them. What an incredible idea that the number of people who are
good and honest really may outnumber the goofs who think violence solves
the world's problems or those who cause grief in workplaces when they
send out computer viruses or bogus you-know-what medication offers. I
remember it said about the Nazi atrocities that the problem wasn't just
the evil people doing bad things, but the many regular people doing nothing
good. Maybe that's how we can make a difference. By allowing ourselves
to trust others just a little more than the news media tell us we should,
by becoming the regular people who take action to do good and expect good,
maybe we can again make this world the place where keys become unnecessary
and streets are again safe and fun for all of us to play in.
make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."
Sir Winston Churchill
"If we had no winter,
the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of
adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
"Half our fears are baseless;
the other half discreditable."