The other day, I was at
the airport and saw none other than
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates. I was
there to meet someone and thought I would
play a fun game.
I approached Mr. Gates
and told him I was meeting someone I would
like to impress. I asked if he would wait
till my friend got off the plane, and then
approach me and act like we are friends. I
couldn’t believe it when he agreed.
So, my friend got off the
plane and as we were greeting each other, up
walked Bill Gates! As my friend stood there,
mouth agape, Mr. Gates said, "Father Joe!
What a pleasure to see you here! We haven’t
talked in so long!"
I looked at him and said,
"Back off, Gates, I’m trying to say hello to
Okay, maybe that didn’t
really happen, but it is a great joke...
Dear Father Joe: In terms of software
piracy, if it’s possible to do it, why is it
wrong? After all, Microsoft has billions.
All right, let’s just jump right to it. The
first thing to look at is the idea of
equivocation. When we equivocate, we make
two basic statements, such as the following:
“We never run in the hallways, unless we are
on fire.” (I have some experience with this
See how an equivocation works? It gives you
a rule, then an exception. Now, let’s look
at the commandment, “You shall not steal.”
Now you notice what’s missing from this
commandment? Equivocation. Stealing is
always wrong. When God gave us that
commandment, He didn’t say, “unless they are
rich” or “unless you really need or want
it.” God simply says, “Don’t steal.”
Besides the “no-equivocation” nature of the
commandment, there are more reasons why it
is wrong to steal and then say “Well, the
other person has more money.” For example,
let’s look at it this way - you are rich.
You may be sitting there thinking you’re
not, but as far as 90 percent (not an
official number) of the world are concerned,
you are shockingly rich. Does that mean that
people from other countries are allowed to
steal from you? Of course not!
So, in the same way that we would never like
that principle applied to us in our
situation, we should never apply it to
others. Besides, I talked to Bill Gates in
the airport yesterday and he said he needed
Basically, software piracy is wrong because
God said not to steal. It’s just that
Now, I don’t like to pile on any more than
the next guy, but let’s look at some things
that are stealing that we may not have
thought of, like cheating on a test or
paper. This is stealing. Cheating is taking
someone else’s work and calling it our own.
If you don’t do your work assignment, and
the gal next to you stayed up late doing it,
you are stealing from her if you copy it.
This applies to taking credit for work we
didn’t do at our jobs, as well as
Check out these numbers, parents. We have to
do a better job when teaching our kids about
stealing and cheating:
• A national survey by the Rutgers
Management Education Center of 4,500 high
school students found that 75 percent of
them engage in serious cheating.
• More than half have plagiarized work they
found on the Internet.
• Perhaps most disturbing, many of them
don’t see anything wrong with cheating. Some
50 percent of those responding to the survey
said they don’t think copying questions and
answers from a test is even cheating.
In case you are wondering, I got these
statistics from this website:
Another thing we may not have thought of in
regard to stealing is giving money to the
poor. Yup, folks. Believe it or not, not
giving of our money to help out those who
need it is stealing. Throughout the Old and
New Testaments are references to the
importance of believers setting aside a
tenth of their income to give to their
church or to the poor. The reasoning behind
this is simple: God gave us the gifts and
talents we have, and those gifts and talents
are what allow us to work and make money.
One way God has asked us to thank Him for
those gifts and talents is to help out our
brothers and sisters in need. When we fail
to do that, then it is just like stealing.
So, in the end, we once again find that God
believes the best of us: He believes that we
can make it in the world by being men and
women of character. Our focus for this next
month, then, can be really simple: we must
Enjoy another day in God’s presence!
– Father Joseph Krupp