Commandment Against Stealing Has Roots In Injunction Against Kidnapping

The eighth commandment, against stealing, takes me back to a 24-pack of crayons stolen from my third-grade desk. Many assumed my classmate Peg took them. She was full of spunk and from “the other side of the tracks.” I liked Peg, not least because her nickname for me was “peaches.”

My mother was asked by the teacher if she wanted this theft “investigated” and she quietly declined. Mom sent me to school the next day with a large box of 64 crayons, containing every color I could imagine. I was excited until I learned that box was to be placed in Peg’s desk without fanfare and a replacement 24-crayon box would go back into my desk. At the time, I couldn’t have had a clue about issues of restorative justice, racial tensions in 1970s Virginia or economic inequality. But my mother’s graceful response to stealing, accusations and friendship did stick with me.