Concept of the Month -- October 2008

The Argument that there is "Larceny in Every Soul" is Hollow

We often hear people say that any of us, under certain circumstances, could lie, steal, cheat, or even kill. Thus, it is claimed, there is "larceny in every soul" potentially.

This is arguable on the face of it. There are people who simply do not steal, no matter the temptation or deprivation. But stealing, like any crime, exists by degree. There certainly are plenty of children, though by no means most, who have pilfered a candy bar. They may have done it once, been caught, or else felt ashamed and never did it again. Would one equate this with a person for whom stealing becomes habitual?

Is committing murder a possibility for any of us? Other than in self-defense (maybe), this is unlikely. There are people who do not have it in their personality to physically attack, much less murder, another human being. Rather than do that, they would run away, talk themselves out of a situation, do whatever it took short of killing their assailant.

The expression there is "larceny in every soul" tell us little about human nature. It is more a myth than a reality!

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