Stop thinking you can to steal something simply because you covet it. What makes you think you’re entitled?! How dare you!!
These thoughts have been a broken record in my head this last week as I struggle to come to terms with the theft of my very old, and very precious native King Orchid. A plant I’ve had for many years. Some heartless person reached over my garden wall and took the orchid for their own – as if they deserved it, as if they were entitled.
What is the mindset of a thief?
It hasn’t helped that I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. But as I attempt to make sense of the theft, I can see two things:
It was probably not an opportunistic act. The orchid was suspended inside the wall and not visible from the outside. So perhaps it was planned? Even worse, by someone who had been inside my courtyard? Whatever the case, it made me heartsick.
That person stole something that was precious to me: my faith in human nature. Oh, it’s not gone forever but it will take some restorative work to get it back. That thief violated my space, my haven. I’ve had to rearrange other items for their security. I hate the fact that this was necessary.
But, as I’ve found in the past, the universe has ways of putting things into perspective for me, albeit in brutal ways.
Just minutes after my distressing discovery, I encountered a person in the lane which abuts my garden wall. We spoke about the orchid theft and a growing despair for societal woes. She told me of death threats from her partner, of being thrown down stairs, of having been escorted by police to a safe house with her children. I was reminded of our disgraceful statistics: one woman is killed by her partner every week in Australia (ref.)
Suddenly, my concerns over a plant theft seemed infinitesimal. Later, when I mused on the two issues, I lamented the rogue nature of some members of our society. From small misdemeanours, to despicable crimes against fellow human beings.
How to make sense of it?
J.K. Rowling’s poem is cautionary, for I think the act of stealing from others has a mirror image. For in turn, something precious is taken from the thief – a sense of decency, replaced by a diminished humanity. And it affects all of us. This applies whether the stolen items are objects like plants, but especially to despicable acts of domestic violence, where the theft involves another’s dignity, security and self worth and sometimes, even a life.
“Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.”
― J.K. Rowling,