No. 518


As I begin this column, here is a question that I would like for you to ponder with me for a few minutes today. One day you were walking down the street alone, and no one else was around, you came upon a wallet that apparently someone had dropped. After opening it up and looking at the contents, you discover that it contains $1,000 in small bills and it also has the identity of the owner, phone number, street address and all. What would you do with it? Well, I would have to believe that you would return it to the rightful owner, and so would most other people. The credit goes to you, not to me, but I do stand for character values, because they are very important.

This is not to say that I am anywhere near perfect because I definitely am not, but I do know right from wrong and I do my dead level best to always be honest. This is the way I was reared and it stuck, and since becoming a Christian and studying the Word of God for many years, I now have a basis for morality, character and integrity that I did not have before. The reason I wanted to share this with you is because I am deeply concerned about the total lack of honesty and character on the part of an increasing number of the American people. We tend to associate with people of like mind and values, so I don't very often see this in the circle of people I know. This is another way of saying that birds of a feather flock to together.

To get to the point, I am hearing more and more stories about identity theft and computer hackers. An individual can work hard for years, manage his finances well and be fixed for a secure retirement, and along comes someone who gains access to his personal information and steals his identify. By the time the theft is discovered, it's too late and his bank account is wiped out, his credit is ruined and it will take several months or even years to clear it up. We both know that this situation is just not right and it will continue to erode the quality of life we have in our great country, if we don't take steps to correct it.

What's the answer? Having stronger laws on the books and enforcing them will help, but the problem is much deeper than that, because a person who is a crook at heart will find another way. Incidentally, if you have a computer and have not already done so, go to and one at a time type in the two phrases "computer hacker" and "identify theft" and you will get an education in a hurry. You will also discover just how pervasive this problem really is and how devastating it is to our society. As I was thinking about what I wanted to share here, I had this question cross my mind that every retail clerk in America at any business could ask each time they are asked to charge something by whatever method.: "Is this really you?"

Apparently, what a lot of these people don't understand who are into computer hacking and identity theft, is that this crime is no different than walking up to someone and sticking a gun in their side and lifting all of their valuable possessions, car, money and jewelry. Really, identify theft is worse because this goes on for a long period of time and most everything is stolen before the victim ever finds out about it. As I'm presenting my case here I want to focus on character values in three areas: the home, the school and the church. I am confident you will agree with me. We must teach our children and grandchildren by precept and example at home that it is morally and ethically wrong to steal, to lie and to cheat.

For example, a young person in school must understand that it is not only morally wrong to cheat on a test, but when they cheat they are stealing opportunity from themselves. I saw something on TV the other day that was the most absurd thing I have ever heard: parents paying someone to help their kids cheat. The kid is going to get out of school with a warped set of values and have to look in the mirror at themselves for the rest of their lives. While I may be too old fashioned, I come from a generation when a person's word was their bond and a good name was one of the things most desired and sought after.

As part of the "Bookcase for Every Child" literacy campaign in communities across the nation, one of the things our volunteers are going to stress to parents is to teach children character values like honesty, truthfulness, kindness, sharing, respect for authority, common courtesy and good manners, as we teach them to become avid readers. This will be a great help to our nation's teachers, as well. If enough of us believe this is important, we can make a difference. We should care enough to want the very best our children and future generations of Americans.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)