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Truth Shall Set You Free
Not Smart for a Genius
The Old Adage About Truth
The old adage “The truth shall set you free” may be true when applied within biblical guidelines. But in other situations it doesn’t always hold water. My siblings and I are witnesses to the fact.
During our teen years way back when, my younger brother, Mike, was known to fracture a few rules now and again. Therefore the following events weren’t a surprise to us.
Mike was born legally blind. He had never seen any other way except in shadows and thought his sight was normal, in spite of the many falls, tumbles and collisions he underwent. However his handicap was offset somewhat by a genius level IQ.
He was about 13 years old when the following took place. Mike and I had found a way to enter our school on weekends when it was closed. It was a neat place to play. There was the gymnasium where we could play basketball and jump on the trampoline. And it was just the knowledge we weren’t supposed to be there which heightened the experience.
Curiosity Killed The Cat
However, one Saturday Mike was exploring the hallways while I was on the trampoline. He came to the teachers’ lounge and found someone hadn’t locked the door. Curiosity about what amenities teachers enjoyed got the better of him so he entered the sacred quarters. After snooping around a while he was preparing to leave when he spied a ladies’ purse. Inside he found $200 in cash, a teachers’ entire paycheck, and the teachers’ Identification. Of course, he pocketed the money.
Mike immediately ran to find me and tell of our good fortune. I strongly suggested he put it back, but he wasn’t having any of that. Later at home, he tried to split the loot with me. I guess he wanted an accomplice. I didn’t want any part of it, but eventually he convinced me since the deed had already been done there was no reason not to take half. Hey! I was only 14!
We held on to the money for a week or so and one day I saw the teacher the money had been taken from. She seemed tired, wore out, hungry and deeply depressed. The sight struck deeply into my heart and I felt pangs of guilt. What was I to do? Should I tell? I was in a quandary.
Later that evening, I decided I didn’t want any part of the deal and gave the money back to Mike. By now, Mike also had misgivings. So to cleanse his soul he brought our older brother and sister into the mix. Mike gave them the money. After hearing his confession, they decided since the crime had already been committed, to divide the cash between them. They also didn’t spend any at that time.
Not long afterwards we moved to dad’s small southern hometown while he went off to fight in Viet Nam. In those days military personnel made a lot less money. And since we were now not living in base housing finances were tight. We didn’t know it at the time, but at school we were on the discounted lunch program, which was to become our downfall.
Since the scene of the crime was now far away and so much time had passed, my older siblings decided it was OK to spend some of the money. Their first purchases were made at the school snack bar where they bought a lot of expensive treats. In such a really small community everybody knew we were on the discounted lunch program. Why then were we able to buy sweets, yet not able to afford regular lunch prices? The question was soon posed to our mother who wondered the same thing. Mom launched an investigation into the matter where we finally told the truth. The cash, minus only $40.00 was turned over to mom. She covered the missing amount and sent the teacher a check in care of the school with her apologies.
Mom understood the temptations we were under, but that didn’t excuse the fact we had been dishonest and were guilty. Mike was guilty, by committing the crime and the rest of us by having knowledge of the offense but not disclosing it.
To this day, I remember the pitiful sight of a teacher shuffling tiredly up to the school entrance. It still affects me the same way. Although the truth had eventually been told, I will never be free of that memory.