Guidance on Stealing

 

Asteya

The subject of theft is very prominent in the news these days. Vandals and thieves pay little respect to the owners of property. However society cannot function smoothly and properly if there is no respect for the ownership of belongings. This has to be recognised by everybody. What is mine is mine, what is yours is yours.

Many people feel it is all right to steal from the state, or from an establishment, especially if it is large. They steal cutlery from railway station restaurants; they steal pencils from the office. They steal photocopies for their own private business using the company machine. Then they are furious when someone steals their car radio, or worse, breaks into their house. That makes them feel not just angry, but also vulnerable.

Stealing of any sort is wrong. It affects the thief who has to live with the knowledge of what he has done. Often people who steal experience a great deal or fear and guilt afterwards. However, it is too easy to be judgmental towards those who do the stealing. One needs to ask why it is done and to attempt to deal with the problem in a humane and caring way. Have those who have been stealing done it out of sheer devilment? Was it envy that lead them to steal? Have they done it because the only way they will get enough food for their families is by theft? Have they stolen in order to better themselves because society has forgotten them and they feel it is the only way to improve their lot?

Why has society reached this state of affairs? It is through neglecting all the disciplines, the Yamas and Niyamas, that society has become what it is today. The problem requires caring solutions, not more police and more padlocks. This is not to excuse stealing, but to explain it in terms that can be understood in a modern context. Things are rarely simply black and white. There are grey areas, but, as a rule, we should avoid stealing.