THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, Deuteronomy 5:10. Tanakh Version, JPS.
One would think of this commandment as self evident in creating a civilized society. No such luck. Stealing has been a problem since humanity began. In ways large and small there are people who can always justify “taking” what they want or think they “need.” Is it a new pen, change from the cash drawer, shop lifting, or embezzling from the boss that tempts you? Would you get a thrill out of breaking and entering? Would you do it because you “deserve” more things or because “everybody else does it?”
Cain’s anger and choice to steal his brother’s flocks led directly to murder. How many murders today are the result of first deciding to steal?
Reading recently about the woman chosen to head ObamaCare in Colorado who has been indicted for embezzling massive amounts from a federal housing program in Wyoming leaves me scratching my head. It’s simply startling what people think they have a right to, and what they will do for financial gain. Some of them get away with their predations for many years and seem to never get caught. Some in the Government are known by Department heads to be padding accounts, double-dipping, and getting paid for personal travel for years and yet they receive no punishment at all when they are finally publicly exposed. They may even get promoted or simply transferred.
How much of the public debt has accrued because of theft and malfeasance all down the line? There is mind numbing malfeasance and outright theft by elected and appointed officials, and administrators within the bureaucracy, and recipients of government contracts and programs. Virtually penniless elected officials become millionaires, if not billionaires, and no one says a word.
In the end stealing leads not just to dishonor, fines or jail time for the thief, it also leads to a gradual breaking down of inhibitions in all who are willing to steal for their own gain. If the man at the top is willing to lie, cheat and steal, then the restraints that inhibit such behavior in others below him weaken and gross immorality occurs.
I have often wondered about Adolph Hitler’s underlings. If there had been no Hitler, would Eichmann, for instance, have been just a faceless bureaucrat all his days? Would the men who carelessly murdered and maimed their fellow citizens in the name of the state have been the animals they were? The same questions could be asked in any bureaucracy that falls into lawlessness. The old saying that, “A fish rots from the head down” is only the truth.
The public loss of confidence in the honesty and integrity of members of the government is another symptom of rot at the top. The corruption may take time to filter through society, but filtered or not, it does continue to taint all down the line and becomes public knowledge. TRUTH will out and eventually shine through to those who have open eyes to see and ears to hear. Many eyes and ears are beginning to open. Every honest citizen has begun to wonder if there is anyone at all in government worthy of trust.
God Himself has told His people not to steal. He knows how sin weakens us and always leads to greater sinning. Theft makes slaves of us all.