It’s a warm feeling. An indication that the majority of people in the Atlantic provinces would return a lost wallet to its owner is cause for optimism in general about people’s honesty, integrity and concern for one another – including strangers.
But in a way it’s not surprising. Atlantic Canadians, for example, have always had a good record in helping charitable efforts.
Many will have been tickled to hear about an experiment done by an organization a few weeks before Christmas that involved leaving 12 wallets in public locations across the four provinces. They contained the usual items, such as receipts, bus tickets, a credit union debit card and about $100 in cash.
Also included was an insert informing a finder who to contact if the wallet is lost. Of the 12 wallets, nine were returned, with all contents intact.
The heart-lifting experiment was courtesy of credit unions in Atlantic Canada. Jennifer Murray, director of brand marketing for Atlantic Central, representing the region's 47 independent credit unions, said they believed that the values of honesty, trust and fairness are alive and well in the region, and wanted to test their theory.
They aren’t sure what happened to the three still missing, musing that they could still be out there somewhere.
Those who returned the goods were able to comment on their actions, and the intentions were pretty much what you might expect. They could fathom the feeling of losing something of personal value, saying that if they lost a wallet they would hope it would be returned by a finder. They said they understand what a headache it would be to replace identification or financial cards and wouldn’t want it to happen to them.
No doubt they would also have pondered the nightmare of identity theft potentially faced by someone in such a situation.
Some of the finders went a step further in their willingness to help. Those who returned the wallets were told they could keep the money, while the credit union would make a donation to the charity of their choice. In some instances, the finder opted to add the money they’d been awarded to the donation.
It’s a great result to an interesting experiment
It carries the ring of the ‘Do unto others’ golden rule at the core of Christianity and similar principles at the centre of many systems of belief and ethics. People really do care about the dilemmas others might face because they can imagine the consequences, they empathize and they don’t want it to befall anyone.
It’s an infectious kind of thing, in the best sense. And we sure hope those other three wallets get turned in.