Robbing robs the robber

Stealing and karma

I saw this sign at a store in New York City a few weeks ago, reminded me of a beautiful lesson. When you steal, you have to justify what you’ve done to yourself, even if you don’t feel the need to answer to anyone else.

In stealing you have two options for how you assess your actions:

  • Denigrate yourself – thinking less of yourself only increases the likelihood you will steal again. Low self esteem leads to decreased will power (self-control) meaning you’re less likely to stop yourself in the future.
  • Denigrate the person you stole from – you have to find something you perceive that they’ve done wrong to justify your actions and maintain a positive image of yourself. This will likely perpetuate your behavior. A great example of this is pirating movies. Most people justify digital theft by suggesting companies charge too much, or that it’s not stealing because it’s not a physical product, or that companies have plenty of profits and should share some.

Either way, I doubt you find either option appealing, and thus robbing robs the robber too.