COMMENTARY: The Cookie Thief 747.2

There’s a nice poem circulating on the Internet about a woman who bought some cookies and a book at an airport and sat down to read and nibble while waiting for her plane. She soon noticed a man sitting next to her, who casually took a cookie from the bag.

Although shocked and seething, the woman remained silent as the man, without the slightest sign of shame or gratitude, quietly helped himself, matching her cookie for cookie.

When there was one cookie left, she watched in amazement as he picked it up, smiled at her as if he were being gracious, and broke it in half. He ate one half and gave her the other. Congratulating herself for maintaining her cool, she said nothing to this rude cookie thief, astonished at the nerve of some people.

Later, when she was settling into her seat on the plane, she rummaged through her purse and discovered the bag of cookies she’d purchased, still unopened. The moral message is contained in the poem’s closing stanza:

“If mine are here,” she moaned with despair,
“Then the others were his, and he tried to share.”
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

Being sure is not the same as being right. Certainty without humility can lead to self-righteousness that distorts our view and understanding of the world and of people.

Humility does not require us to be equivocal or doubtful about our deepest convictions about religion and right and wrong. What it asks is that we hold and advocate our beliefs without dismissing the possibility that others may be right, too. Or, as in the cookie case, instead.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 4

  1. I have listened for years to you on the radio on my way to work on am 1070 in Los Angeles. This was at 6:51 in the morning. Where have you gone to. Different time or radio station. Please let me know. Mike Boyko

  2. This was awesome. so many don’t realize some things are just their fault and they blame others for their faults. Too much pride in this world ruins good relationships. this is a great reminder of self evaluation.

  3. I think that most of have been in some situation where we felt we were correct in our assumptions only to find out it truly was us . Hope I could be as graciouse “

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