Tag Archive | "temptation"

Pandora’s Story: The Consequences of Curiosity

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Some things are best left unsaid or undone.  I think we have all had the experience of innocently saying or doing something, only to discover that we have opened the door to repercussions that were totally unanticipated.  This is the reason why it is said that a lawyer in a courtroom should never ask a question of a witness without knowing its answer in advance.  Sometimes, however, because of curiosity, ego, or other reasons, we delve into territory best left unexplored and pay dearly for it as a result.

It is the nature of humankind to be curious.  And, throughout the ages, thinkers and writers have both observed and attempted to explain human behavior.  Although today usually employed with a negative connotation, the term “myth” is actually an attempt to explain a universal truth.  And so, the ancient Greeks told the story of Pandora to illustrate the downside of curiosity and entrance of evil into the world.

According to Greek legend, Pandora was the first woman on earth.  Created by the gods on Mount Olympus, she was the embodiment of an intricate plan by the Olympians to punish mankind for the acceptance of the gift of fire that was stolen from the gods by the Titan Prometheus (who represents foresight).  Although warned by Prometheus, his brother Epimetheus (who represents hindsight) takes Pandora as his mate. 

Similar to the Old Testament Garden of Eden, earth at the time of Epimetheus and Pandora was a natural delight with bountiful vegetation and a temperate climate.  And, as was the case with Eve, Pandora is confronted with temptation – in this instance, in the form of a securely-tied box that Hermes, messenger of the god Zeus – the mythical Father of gods and men, leaves for safekeeping in the home of Epimetheus and Pandora with the explicit instruction to leave unopened.  Of course, Pandora’s curiosity will not be denied and so, she opens the box only to have all diseases, sorrows, and other ills unleashed upon the world.

It seems that – whether in myth or sacred scripture – women have always gotten men into trouble.  Perhaps, the fact that men – for the most part – wrote these stories has colored them.  Yet, the stories themselves are meant to convey lessons.  The lesson that I glean from Pandora’s story is that we must be patient and deliberative in satisfying our curiosities and taking actions in unfamiliar territories.  Like Prometheus, we must perform the due diligence necessary to gain the knowledge that will enable us to project and measure the consequences of our actions.  By doing so, we can avoid being sorry in hindsight, as Epimetheus learned in a most painful way. 

The Bounds of Honesty

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Although no one may have been present to catch you, I am sure there was a time when, as a child, you may have filched a few flowers from the garden of your elderly next-door neighbor.  A relatively harmless petty crime, it was nonetheless dishonest.   Lets face it; if someone cheats or steals something from you, you become irate at this underhanded behavior.  But, how often do you push the envelope by doing something similar?  Have you committed other, larger acts of subterfuge as you matured into adulthood?  If so, what was the nature and frequency of your thefts?


Have you ever ordered a decent meal in a restaurant, eaten half of it, and then pretended to find a hair in it, thus rendering it inedible and tainted?  Have you made a fuss and demanded a second, different meal just so that you could enjoy some variety without paying for two separate meals, or perhaps get a credit for your dinner?   If so, you were underhanded because nothing was wrong with the food and nothing was ever paid out of your pocket.


What about all the stories you hear about people who need a fabulous outfit for a special occasion, who go out and buy something that they can’t really afford?  The kicker is that they wear the clothing once, just for the special function, tuck the price tag into the garment, and then return it to the retailer after having worn it.  Shouldn’t these cheaters feel guilty?


Perhaps a cashier neglects to ring up an item at the checkout counter.   If you realize this, do you speak up or do you grin secretly, thinking you have gotten something for nothing and rationalizing that the store’s loss is the cashier’s fault, as she should have paid more attention to what she was doing?


Remember those counterfeit bills and/or foreign coins that wound up in your wallet or purse through no fault of your own?  You received them as change when you made an honest transaction and never noticed, at the point of purchase, that they were not legal tender in this country.   You felt duped, so you attempted to pass them on in order to return the “favor” to someone else — usually a harried cashier who has a long line of customers and may not notice you giving her illegal currency.


How about if someone dropped some money unaware?  Would you be a Good Samaritan and alert that person, or would you wait with your eye on the prize, and like a vulture, swoop down for the kill by pocketing that money?  We hear so many stories about people finding large amounts of money or jewelry, only to turn them in to the proper authorities.  In such a situation, what would your choice be?  Would you think, “found money” and assume that the owner was stupid for having been careless with it, or would you be honest, knowing that it does not belong to you and that the person who lost it is probably a hard working stiff, just like you?


Did a household item ever break on you after its warranty had expired?  Did you then purchase a brand new appliance, the exact same model in fact, only to place the broken item into the box and return it to the store for a full refund?  If so, you received a new, fully-functioning appliance or some ill-gotten cash.  Or, are you one of those people who take advantage of the policies of certain retail chains where you are allowed to return makeup you decide you do not like?  Did you use the makeup a few times before returning it?  And did you consider that in demanding your money back, you have swindled the store?


Did you ever try to exact revenge for high gas prices by pulling a stunt at the pumps?  Have you ever accused the gas attendant of making a mistake, blaming him for pumping more than the amount you’d asked and then refusing to pay for the “overage?”  Did you take advantage of someone not fluent in English to do such a thing, someone who may be earning minimum wage?


In my life, I have had many experiences similar to those questioned in this article.  In particular, I lost my wallet on two separate occasions and had two distinct outcomes.


The first time, I was out Christmas shopping and in my usual holiday stress, left my wallet on the counter and walked away.  Unfortunately, I did  not notice it was missing until the next morning when I returned to the mall to finish up my shopping.   Frantically, I retraced my steps in my mind and determined to return to the place where I had made my last purchase.  Sure enough, the cashier had kept my wallet for me safely, assuming that I would return to claim it!   I was so relieved and grateful to find everything intact; not a penny was missing!


The second time, my wallet must have accidentally fallen out of my pocket.  I was doing my wash in a Laundromat and reached for my wallet to get some quarters, only to find it was gone.   Realizing that this must have happened no more than five minutes prior, I rushed outside to see if I had dropped the wallet on the ground; when no wallet appeared, I then ransacked my car, all to no avail.  Immediately, I alerted the police, filing a report with them as my credit cards, license, and some cash had disappeared along with that wallet.  As the police were taking my information, they received a call that my wallet had been turned in at the police station in the next town.  When I retrieved it, all the cash was gone but everything else was there.  I am almost certain that the same person who took the cash turned in the wallet, because all of this took place pretty quickly!  So my thought was, “Why be a good citizen one minute and in the blink of an eye, turn into a thief?”


We all need to realize that, in the long run, we — the consumers — pay one way or another for these petty crimes.  To offset loss, or shrinkage as we say in the retail industry, prices must rise.  Every consumer then absorbs these higher costs.  With Washington juggling  semantics by calling this economy a “recession” when we know it’s deeper than that, with banks engaging in shady business practices getting government bail-outs, with taxpayers eating the costs, do we really want to contribute to the ripping off of the American consumer when we ourselves are consumers?


So, who do you want to be:  A Wiley Coyote, a sneaky snake, a slippery eel, or an Honest Abe?


Perhaps your answer can be found in the following Biblical verse that speaks of giving and actually infers stealing:


“Give and it will be given to you.
Good measure, pressed down, shaken together,
And running over will be put into your lap.
For with the same measure that you use,
It will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38 

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