I walk to school almost everyday.
Although this half-hour trek does takes a toll on my reserved energy, I still walk. Although my round-trip travel time is often longer than my class time itself, I still walk. Although my legs and feet are often extremely sore before, during, and after my classes, I still walk.
And why do I walk? I walk because I do not have the money to purchase a bike and because I refuse to steal a bike. Yes, that’s right. I refuse to participate in the Isla Vista social and economic system that has incorporated bike theft as an acceptable tenet.
Call me crazy, but I think it’s odd the responsibility for a stolen bike in I.V. lays with the victim who left the bike unlocked. I think it’s strange a bike thief can feel morally justified because someone forgot to lock their bike. Moreover, I think it’s extraordinary that many bike thieves probably don’t even put that much thought into a successful score. Rather, one most likely rides his lucrative prize up to his or her house with a grin and declares, “Check out the new bike I got! It was just chillin’ with no lock.”
There is no need for moral justification. It’s not even a question of morality. Seeing an unlocked bike is like finding a five-dollar bill on the street with no one around.
But how did it become this way? When did thieves start becoming fortunate economic opportunists? My answer regards people’s loss of the ability to role play, Which involves putting oneself in the position of another and considering events from that perspective.
I have had a bike stolen. I also know that I have always been angry whenever an item has been stolen from me. Furthermore, I have always felt justified in my anger. Although I may have felt stupid or absent-minded if I had left an important item in a vulnerable position, I also knew that I did not deserve to have the item taken from me. I had a right to be pissed off at whomever had taken something from me.
Now, whenever I find myself in a situation that could quickly prove personally beneficial through theft, I simply keep in mind my perspective as a previous victim of theft. I remember the extreme dislike and abhorrence that I hold for the person who stole from me, whoever that person may be. Moreover, remembering the negativity of losing an article does not influence me to feel as though I deserve some retribution for the theft of my possessions. Instead, I realize that I like to think of myself as a good person while I like to think negatively of people who have stolen from me. I realize that someone would despise me if I were to steal an item from him or her. And how can I maintain my positive self-concept and consider myself to be morally adequate if I purposefully impose on another what I consider to be harmful and wrong?
Now, I understand many who steal began because they were victims of theft. I also realize the people who have stolen from me may have just been compensating the wrongs they endured. Nevertheless, I’m still angry and I still do not accept their actions as justifiable.
I choose not to partake in this mutated version of sharing. I know that there are many others who, like me, wish to feel justified in expecting to not have things stolen and who, in exchange, pledge not to steal from others.
Next time you’re about to grab that new cruiser that some idiot forgot to lock, please remember how you felt when some asshole grabbed that first bike that you had bought and accidentally forgot to lock. Ask yourself if you are willing to be that asshole.
Constantine Economides is a senior communication and sociology major.