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It is commanded: Thou shalt not steal.

The thief, by stealth or gun, can steal anything, and everything, depriving the victim of material goods, treasured possessions, even peace of mind, and trust beyond the reach of the thief. The inner resources, the inner strengths, the feeling of self-worth that enables the victim to surmount the loss and remain whole.

But what if the thefts are committed by ourselves upon ourselves? Like robbing the body of vitality and physical well-being be neglect or over-indulgence.

Despoiling the mind with drink and drugs. Indulging in self-gratifications that deplete mind, body, and soul, and destroy one’s sense of personal value and worth.

Denying oneself the satisfaction of accomplishment by chasing after mirages instead of realities.

And where shall we find our inner strengths and resources if we allow them to wither along the way?

If we victimize ourselves are we less the thief than the stranger who steals our gold?

O Lord, there is no greater wisdom than that embodied in your commandments, but may we add another: Thou shalt not commit theft upon thine own self.


I don’t know if I can offer any commentary on what my grandmother wrote, besides admitting to the unequivocal theft upon myself. I’m not sure I chase “mirages,” but I certainly deny myself the satisfaction of accomplishment and squash my inner strengths and resources by habitually discrediting the quality of my work. Then again, maybe my dissatisfaction with my work stems from having to crank it out so quickly.

In my mind, what’s produced quickly can’t possibly carry the save gravitas as something mulled over for days, weeks or months. But, today’s work environment dictates a few do the work once done by many, at an accelerated pace, fueled by the speed of email, convenience of remote conference (and video) calls, and efficiency of PCs and devices.

Perhaps the real thief of inner strength, resources, and self-worth is technology. Like drink and drugs, it doesn’t discriminate or have pity. It lures in its victims, intoxicating them with power and entertainment. Consider the enticement of online games, social networks, videos, dating, and even pornography.

Thirty years ago, when my grandmother typed this invocation on a typewriter, she never could have imagined the bits and bytes of electronics could one day become more insidious and intoxicating than any theft one could commit upon themselves.