Two weeks ago a woman in Langford, BC was charged with defrauding family and friends out of over $320 000 by lying about having cancer and needing experimental treatments. This is the latest in what seems to be an unbelievable number of cases of a similar nature. It is alarming in that those who perpetrate these crimes are taking advantage of the basic human desire to do good for others. In the past few weeks I have also been hearing from people locally who have been duped out of cash by young men calling elderly women and claiming to be a grandson in need. These young men find out enough about the lives of their victims that they are convincing and lure the unsuspecting seniors into wiring money to a ‘grandson’ in need. These sorts of stories leave us angry, and sadly often make us increasingly more cynical. Trusting someone who is in need becomes ever more difficult. English playwright Noel Coward wrote, “It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
I hope that we have not come to the point where we expect deceit first. I pray that we are not so cynical that we find honesty to be shocking. Most people are honest and good. The desire that people have to help others is an important part of how we are created. Make no mistake; there are those around us who are legitimately in need. With the increase in stories like those already mentioned comes the sad reality that we now have to validate another’s claim before we can assist.
With Christmas almost upon us there will be opportunity to help others. We will need to act. Because of the deceitful actions of a few, many will suffer if we assume the attitude that no one can be trusted. Instead we need to use our common sense and be careful to find opportunities to help others where we can. At times we will have to ‘trust our gut’ and help someone who needs us. What we cannot do is punish those who are legitimately in need of our assistance. There are those who but for the generosity of others would suffer immensely. It would seem that we would be giving those who have been deceitful far too much influence in our society if we simply choose to trust no one and cease helping others altogether. Most people are honest. That should be a shock to no one.