Published on October 18, 1962
Americans are good at inventing protective words and phrases.
For example, let’s examine “Midnight Auto Supply.” If someone says, “I stole this spotlight off a parked car,” he is a thief. But if he says, “The spotlight? Ah, I picked it up at the Midnight Auto Supply,” he is just “shady.”
Americans, barring Estes and Beck, seldom steal anything. We may “swipe” something now and then, but we wouldn’t think of stealing.
We never take without permission; we always “borrow.” And we don’t lie though we tell “a grey shade of the truth” now and then.
The one major thing wrong with this philosophy of using better sounding words to describe an act is that connotations can never change the moral value of acts we perform or words we say.
Seventh-day Adventist students should not be involved with this type of thinking. But WWC has a library problem that stems from the fact that students neglect to call stealing just that.
At the minute you are reading this editorial, the WWC library has 30 or more books missing. These books are not the ones on the overdue list. They have not been checked out; they have simply been taken.
And the books that are missing are not books that have been gathering dust for nearly a century. They are books that are currently required reading assignments for classes.
Some of these books will come back in a month, others will show their titles in the spring, and the rest will be gone forever because WWC students will neglect to return them.
Most students who think nothing of taking a book without checking it out wouldn’t steal a garment or groceries. But, in actuality, a book is often more important than a shirt or ten pounds of potatoes.
All the students who take books are not thieves. Why do they take them? Because they rationalize— they substitute the word “borrow” for steal. Each student needs to stop, think, and re-evaluate his place in society and his obligations to others.
Unless students are willing to change their thinking, the WWC library will lose over $800 worth of books this year.
A book-check might help to solve the problem. But the real solution lies in individual honesty.