Home > activism & good works > A Better Person Than I Am?

A Better Person Than I Am?

Friday, May 20, 2011, 17:04 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Did you hear about the guy who found $45,000 in his new house…and gave it to the previous owners? No, really. It’s right here in a report from a Rochester, New York, television station:

Josh Ferrin used to work for the Democrat and Chronicle before moving west and setting outside Salt Lake City. This week, his new house revealed quite a secret–in the form of $45,000 in cash.

Ferrin thought about keeping the cash, but decided it was best to give it back. “It was a great opportunity to take my children and say to them we are going to do something awesome,” he said.

So Ferrin invited the previous owners over and asked his young children to haul out several bags filled with cash.

My first reaction was, HE DID WHAT?!? Then I started thinking about it and wondering if I would do the same thing if I were in his position.

The law would probably be on the side of a homeowner who decided to keep the money. When you buy real estate, you typically get the land, anything under it, any structures built on it, and anything attached to the structures. You also get whatever the sellers might leave behind when they vacate the premises, which would include something stashed in the attic or buried in the yard.

Things get more complicated when you look beyond the law and consider ethics and morals, as Mr. Ferrin did. Apparently, he felt morally compelled to return the money to the family of the previous occupant. I’m not sure I would have done the same thing, at least right away. I imagine a debate with myself, one side arguing the legalisms and the other advocating for the moral high ground. I know I would feel better if I gave it back, and I’d like to think I would take an “easy come, easy go” attitude about it and move on. But I can’t honestly say I know I would.

Maybe that’s why God or luck or whatever forces might be at work don’t put me in such positions. Without having to make the decision, I don’t have to confront the true nature of myself.

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