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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Opinion: Not all humans are complete bastards!

I want to ask you a question. Are you a bit sick of people right now? 

Seems everyone I talk to is feeling jaded and a bit over ‘humanity.’ There’s that war going on, and now we are hearing of appalling atrocities. We’ve had over two years of covid restrictions and worries, and many of us have a feeling that maybe the world isn’t such a good place because of human greed, prejudice, and self-interest. 

Maybe you aren’t feeling that despondent, but I’m sure you are aware of all the bad news, and possibly a bit tired of it all.

I know I am, but I found a news story recently that renewed my faith in humanity and proved to me that not all humans are bastards. 

FYI, I swing back and forwards on this ‘bastard’ issue. I’ve known a few personally, and lord knows, I suspect there are a few who think I am one. But I’m well aware of how as a species, we are capable of wonderful creativity and kindness, but also alas, some pretty awful behaviours and actions. 

So, here now is a true story of a decent human being:

I read this story on the BBC website, and it concerns a 19-year-old African man living in Liberia. His name is Emmanuel Tuloe and he dropped out of school at the age of nine to help earn money for his poor family. A short time later his father died, and Emmanuel went to live with his aunt. By the age of 11, he became a motorbike taxi driver, and up until recently, that was his work.

Last year, he found a plastic bag by the side of the road containing a mix of US and Liberian banknotes. The total value of that cash was $50,000 USD. He gave the money to his aunt for safekeeping, and when the owner of the money appealed on the radio for help finding it, Emmanuel came forward and handed the money back.

That’s pretty amazing, right? Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money, particularity in a country like Liberia which has high illiteracy rates, lower life expectancy, and in which a large percentage of the population lives in poverty.

Emmanuel and his family could have done with that money. 

Despite being mocked by some people who thought he should have kept the dosh, Emmanuel said “I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me to be honest. And my message to all young people is: It’s good to be honest; don’t take what does not belong to you.”

How refreshing is it to see someone with such high principles and a very clear moral perspective on life? Yes, he was obviously brought up well by his parents, but it also shows that this young man has developed his own sense of what is right.

We regularly see news items of people ripping one another off, be it Ponzi schemes, political corruption, or fraud in corporations and at times families. 

Theft and corruption can be found in all levels of society, though it is often the poor and marginalised who face the biggest penalties from crimes of dishonesty. Every day, on social media we will see ostentatious displays of wealth or pseudo-riches by people. 

Yet, with Emmanuel Tuloe we see an honest young man who decided to honour the values he has chosen for himself. 

What’s more, Emmanuel’s honesty has actually worked in his favour. Once the story of his actions came out, Liberia’s President George Weah handed him $10,000. A local media owner also gave him some cash which was raised by viewers and listeners. The owner of the money Emmanuel found also gave him $1,500 worth of goods. 

He has returned to high school, and he has been offered a full scholarship from a US college once he graduates.  

All these opportunities are becoming available to him because of a simple act of honesty. Emmanuel put his own self-interest aside. In his own words, he could have kept the money, “but it was never going to get me the opportunity I now have.”

I would like to think that most people in the world are pretty decent, and while I get annoyed by a lot of people, I have to admit I have known very few that were real bastards. I’m sure you feel the same way too.

So, if like me, you have been feeling a bit despondent about the human condition, remember the story of Emmanuel Tuloe and rejoice that there are plenty more people like him in this world. 

And now a quick reminder – why not sign up for my regular newsletters here, they are full of interesting things.


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