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Is it stealing if no one sees you and you aren't caught?

The Sentinel-Record owns a paid parking lot across from the Hot Springs Convention Center. It is clearly marked and the rates are very reasonable but you would be surprised at the number of people who do not pay when they park in the lot. I check the parking lot from time to time and find several folks who think it is OK to take some free parking.

People know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and most folks do their best to land on the right side of things. Where it gets tricky is that we have standards that we hold for ourselves and different standards for others. I think we tend to judge other people a lot more harshly than we do ourselves.

According to Michael R. Cunningham, a professor of psychology at the University of Louisville, such discrimination stems from the difference in perception of self as compared to others: "We evaluate other people based upon their behavior; we evaluate ourselves based upon our intentions." This makes it easier for us to overlook our own poor behavior and blame others when they do the exact same thing.

We tell ourselves that doing the wrong thing is OK because "Everyone else was doing it" or "I'm not hurting anybody" or "Who cares? It's only $5." These thoughts ease our guilt and make it seem in our minds that what we are doing isn't wrong.

Today's world seems to have rapidly changing standards for right and wrong. Things that have become commonplace in today's society would have been appalling to us just a few years ago. Take cursing for instance. Folks seem to cuss a lot more and in a lot of public situations that they didn't in the past. I must admit I fall into this category more often than I would like.

Road rage is another thing that has changed fairly recently in our society. Folks drive very aggressively and honk and flip people off who are just trying to get from point A to point B like they are.

And don't even get me started on social media. The comments and posts that people think are OK and justifiable make me cringe sometimes. Some of the things that are posted on our newspaper's various social platforms are stunning and downright rude from time to time.

What can you do? People are going to do what they want to do, I guess.

But here at The Sentinel-Record we are taking a few small steps to help folks focus on doing the right thing. We are having new signage posted in our paid parking lot. These signs will clearly state all the necessary details in regards to paying for parking. We will increase our video monitoring of the parking lot. We have also contracted with a local towing company to help us move the nonpaying folks out of our lot.

I would imagine when someone comes back to their car and finds that it has been towed away that will be one concrete thing that they won't be able to rationalize away. Their actions will have real-world consequences.

However, the downside will be the towing of their car will also result in more cussing in public. It could even generate some road rage when they get their car back. I would also assume that there will be some pretty ugly social media posts too.

Honesty means one thing to some folks and something totally different to other folks. Ultimately it is up to you.

"Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching." - C.S. Lewis

Editorial on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: Parking our integrity

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