04/29/05 — Righting a wrong: Surprising act makes amends for past misdeeds

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Righting a wrong: Surprising act makes amends for past misdeeds

The test of a man is what he does when no one is watching and when no one will ever know that the good deed just accomplished was his.

This is not a story about a man doing a good deed. It is about one making things right.

But nonetheless, his story is worth telling, just so you will know that there is still reason to believe that people are basically good.

The Goldsboro News-Argus recently got a couple of money orders in the mail from a man who offered his name, but nothing else. The money orders were restitution for a newspaper rack he stole six years ago. The payments came separately, likely because it takes a while for some people to pry a couple hundred dollars loose from their budgets these days. They were each accompanied by short notes, and ended with an apology for the wrong done.

Now, the reality is this man is a criminal. Stealing a newspaper machine is a crime, a pretty significant one at that. The act that he is apologizing, for he should never have done in the first place.

But what makes this story so intriguing is this is also a crime he had gotten away with. The News-Argus has no record of a prosecution during the year he writes he stole the rack, so the restitution was not court-ordered. The newspaper knows of no one who has confessed and made payment arrangements. In fact, we have no idea even who he is.

Sometimes people decide that to move on with their lives, they have to clear up loose ends. They have to right wrongs and make apologies to those they have injured in the past.

That must be what this man is doing — cleaning house.

So, while we cannot condone the crime itself, it makes us think a bit about how a simple act of accountability can turn a life around and set it back on a positive path.

And it illustrates just how infrequently people make the choice of responsibility over silence.

You have to respect someone who has the courage to take that step.

Published in Editorials on April 29, 2005 11:00 AM