Events right up here in Kingston and down there in New York City last week illustrated some things about honesty, and its related virtue, integrity.
Did you hear about the homeless guy who found a wallet full of cash and turned it in to the police? Of course you did — a feel-good story like that doesn’t stay contained for long, nor should it. The wallet-finding man, faced with a temptation that would challenge even the most rectitude-filled among us, showed an exceptional amount of integrity in his selfless act and deserves all the praise the community can heap upon him. I hope he gets a little or a lot of something as a reward; this is not something everyone, including people who are normally just fine viz. ethics would have done. It reminds me of a story once a friend told me about finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk of a local village. She was tempted to just pocket it, but feared that it was perhaps some mother’s only money for the week to feed her child, or some similar tragic scenario. So she brought it to the local constabulary and reported the discovery. The desk person lauded her for her honesty and then asked, “What if it had been a $100 bill?”
“If it had been a $100 bill, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
So double good for Junior. $485 is a lot of dough to pass up. The last time I was reminded of the story I just told was when I found a $20 bill on the snowy ground during a winter’s walk at Vanderbilt’s. I am somewhat ashamed, in the face of this recent event, to admit that I merely thought Fortune had smiled upon me and led me to the windfall. I kept it with remarkably little guilt and a shameful amount of joy.
But fate/karma has a way of balancing itself out, dontcha know. A week later I am buying lightbulbs at the Home Depot, and after I swiped the debit card, I opted to get $30 cash back. As I am wont to do, especially during a busy day of errands, I was distracted by something or another, or just overwhelmed by trying to think five steps ahead. I walked out of the store sans the $30. Two errands later, I realized my mistake and thought about going back to the Home Depot to plead my case, but figured it wouldn’t do any good and anyway, that’s what I get for gleefully taking $20 that wasn’t mine. Wrote Mencken, “Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.”
Speaking of stinging, can you imagine the sting of humiliation that poor woman is feeling, having to deal with her husband’s sexting being revealed a second time. Huma Abedin is some sort of saint to stick with Anthony Weiner. Anthony Weiner has demonstrated the distinction between honesty and integrity. Yes, he was honest when he first started running for mayor in saying more naughty things might emerge, but he showed precious little integrity in generating more naughty things after he had already been caught and forced to resign. Yeah, it’s ultimately between his wife and himself and yeah, the New York City mayoral race is not the Kingston Times’ concern, really. But honesty, integrity and character do count for something in a universal sense and since we are in the outermost orbit of the Gotham sun, I suppose it’s fair comment. Does this all mean Weiner should not be mayor? Hard (or perhaps it’s safer to say “difficult”) to say for sure, but it does tend to indicate bad judgment and a relishing on Weiner’s part of pursuing and keeping dark secrets. Say what you will about Bloomberg — he’s stuffy, imperious, laughably bad at Spanish, a plutocrat’s plutocrat — but it’s hard to imagine him in this spot. And still, what Spitzer did was worse: a married man sexting up a woman who is not your wife is immoral, but not illegal, and prostitution almost always involves the exploitation of women.
So where does Ulster County legislators saying they work 20 days a month fit in? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect right alongside the dude who says he’s got a bridge in Brooklyn he wants to sell you.