A man named Tom was enjoying a leisurely stroll in the park once upon a time in a quiet little town when he noticed a wallet resting on a park bench. He picked it up out of curiosity and when he opened it, he discovered a sizable quantity of cash—$700—tucked away neatly within.
Tom’s heart pounded as he processed the significance of his finding. Is it better for him to keep the money and use it to ease some of his financial difficulties, or should he try to give it back to the original owner? He made the morally correct decision because he felt a strong sense of obligation.
A few days later, Tom came across an announcement that made his eyes bulge as he read the local newspaper. It said that a rich guy in the community had misplaced his wallet, which had an astounding $700. The ad continued by providing a phone number to get in touch with the owner and offering a $50 prize to anyone who returned the wallet.
Tom realized he needed to give the call. He called the rich guy, who was ecstatic to learn that his wallet had been found, although he did so with a sad heart. They decided to get together to finish the conversation.
When they next met, Tom returned the wallet to its rightful owner, who opened it and checked its contents right away. The affluent man started counting the money and saw that there was just $700 left.
The rich man turned to face Tom, a cunning gleam in his eye, and said, “I see you have already taken your reward.”
Startled, Tom asked back, “What are you talking about? The wallet holding $700 was found by me. I did not accept any payment.”
The two men vehemently defended their positions and engaged in a heated argument. They made the decision to go to court since they were unable to come to an agreement.
On the day of the court appearance, Tom, the impoverished man, began by making his case. He stated that he had not removed anything from the wallet and related how he had found it with $700 inside.
The rich man’s turn came next. He narrated the story of how he misplaced a wallet containing seven hundred dollars, underscoring his total trust in the integrity of the locals and the court. Finally, he declared with assurance, “Your Honor, I trust you, you trust me.”
With a severe expression on his face, the judge paid close attention to both sides. Then, with a nod, he stated, “Of course.”
The wealthy guy could not suppress a smile, knowing that his case would be decided in his favor because of the judge’s confidence. Tom, however, was heartbroken and worried that he would be charged with stealing.
But the Judge had something unexpected in mind. Tom was relieved and confused at the same time as he snatched the wallet from the rich man’s hands. Visibly enraged, the rich guy asked, “What are you doing?”
With composure, the judge remarked, “You are an honest man, of course, and I’m sure your missing wallet contained $750.” However, this wallet must belong to someone else since if the man who recovered it was a thief and a liar, he wouldn’t have returned it at all. The money belongs to the individual who found it, until he comes forward to claim it.”
Although the affluent man was left stunned, the judge’s ruling held. Tom, for his part, left with a wallet that held $700; the town would have to wait until someone discovered the rich man’s wallet containing the last $50. That day, there was no doubt about the lesson that justice is served by the rule of law and that integrity always wins out.