I was in Byron Bay for a writers festival this past week. Driving around near Uki I stopped on the side of the road to have a look at a creek. As I walked back to the car I found a wallet on the ground. It was a strange place to have lost a wallet and I headed back to the creek to have another look, thinking that the owner might have come to a watery demise. He wasn’t there, thankfully, so I headed into Uki to see if I could get some reception to contact him through the Whitepages. I don’t know why I had my laptop with me, but thankfully I did and was able to google the directions to his home .(I don’t have an internet phone) as his phone number wasn’t listed. I drove to his house and gave him the wallet back. He was most surprised as he didn’t even know he’d lost it. He told me it must have fallen out of his pocket when he stopped for a wee break. As a reward he gave me the money inside the wallet: $90, which was very generous.
That night as I was reading a book by Clive Hamilton (The Freedom Paradox), which is very broadly about living an ethical existence. I came across this on page 198:
“The girl who finds a wallet containing a large sum of money and hands it intact…. will probably be rewarded with praise….and gratitude of the rightful owner, perhaps taking the form of one or more of the bank notes in question…The girl does [this] because she believes it is the right thing to do.”
It kind of freaked me out! He could have used a number of examples to demonstrate his point and could have used “boy” rather than “girl”. Did I ever mention I don’t believe in coincidences? Well, that example demonstrates exactly why I don’t believe in them!
Doing good isn’t something I am able to question. I am driven to always do what is right. I didn’t expect the owner to hand over the bank notes. I tried to refuse, but he insisted and at that point, accepting them became the right thing to do. I’m not perfect by any means and sometimes I get it wrong, but I think that all of us have a core of humanity that guides us to do good.
Incidentally, Clive Hamilton calls this core The Noumenon and posits that the only way to truly be free is to live a moral existence, where doing good is the order of the day.