Saying Goodbye to the Past

Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cities
Brendan Pringle, First Place
Grade 11, High School Division

Although a senescent, tarnished moped may not seem like an object of value, my family considered our 1980 moped a member of the family. To my father, it symbolized the beginning of a newfound freedom and the advent of a brand-new lifestyle. After marriage, my parents took weekly trips on the Puch to enjoy the freshness of their youth. With the arrival of six beautiful children, the moped changed its function to suit family life. One of the most vivid moments of my childhood involved sitting in front of my dad on the worn leather cushion, grasping the rusty handle, the wind pounding against my shirt as we accelerated into the distance. Every Sunday afternoon, my dad would take turns with each of us for a thrilling ride around the block. I recall every single one of my siblings waiting in almost desperate anticipation for their turn to “go for a ride with Daddy on the moped”. These memories ended abruptly on one cold, Sunday night, as the moped was torn permanently from our lives. The thief of the Puch failed in all facts of the 4-Way Test, as he/she committed a crime far beyond material possessions, stealing hours of delight and exhilaration from my whole family, and a gleaming symbol of the past.
This criminal gazed over the first and most crucial question of the 4-Way Test—”Is it the truth?”, or in other words, “Is it true that I deserve to take possession of this bike?” An old moped is not required to sustain the life of a person in any way. It is only made for occasional rides, not to permanently take the place of a vehicle. Therefore, it was an act of personal desire and excessive gain, not necessity. Secondly, stealing is never the truth under any circumstances. Lying is ominously present in the act of theft, as one is directly deceived by the criminal in his wrongful accruement of a possession.
Beyond this, the thief neglected to acknowledge the unfairness of the theft. This crime was unfair to every single person in my family. Both my mother and father lost a bike that was reminiscent of their glory days, including the abundance of free time that they once had to themselves. My siblings and I felt as though our Sunday afternoon would never be the same again. We could not easily overcome the loss of excitement that we had looked forward to every weekend. Additionally, it is unfair that the criminal was not caught for the sake of society. In understanding the psychology of a thief, one could truthfully say that the thief will repeat his offense. Therefore, the concept of fairness was virtually nonexistent throughout the whole crime.
This crime did not build good will and better friendships. My whole family experienced the loss of something special to them, a major impasse to the creation of a basic fraternal relationship. Every single one of us rued the act of injustice committed against us, and was bitter about this loss, including my six-year old brother. This crime did not distance my family, but the presence and further utilization of this special vehicle would have veritably created an even closer bond between my sister, brothers, and parents. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, a symbol of brotherly love had been tragically taken in silence, leaving us with utter resentment.
As a result, the criminal did not benefit from the action. Correction was not provided to change his moral state. In contrast, I have used the 4-Way Test in recent years to reflect upon this incident in a new light. It would be untrue and unfair for the thief if I did not express forgiveness. Also, resentment toward the thief would not be beneficial to anyone, and moreover, would impede the establishment of good will and better friendships.
In today’s society, criminal justice is meant to treat the psychological issues of a criminal in using the principles of Adlerian therapy on a minute scale. In punishing individuals with a fee or through directed counseling, they are more inclined to change their ways. However, in the case of an anonymous criminal, lessons are skipped and change is impossible. Usage of the Rotary Club motto, “Service Above Self’ was implausible due to the concealed nature of the crime. The 4-Way test, if utilized in the decision-making process, can ultimately prevent crime in premature sense.

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