Catch Of A Lifetime
He was 11 years old and went fishing every chance he got from a dock
at his family's cabin on an island in the middle of a New Hampshire
lake. On the day before the bass season opened, he and his Father
were fishing early in the evening, catching some fish and perch with
worms. Then he tied on a small silver lure and practiced casting. The
lure struck the water and caused colored ripples in the sunset, thin
silver ripples as the moon rose over the lake. When his pole doubled
over, he knew something huge was on the other end. His Father watched
with admiration as the boy skillfully worked the fish along side the
dock. Finally, he very gingerly lifted the exhausted fish from the
water. It was the largest one he had ever seen, but it was a bass.
The boy and his Father looked at the handsome fish, gills playing
back and forth in the moonlight. The Father lit a match and looked at
his watch. It was 10 p.m. - two hours before the season opened. He
looked at the fish, then at the boy. "You'll have to put it back,
Son," he said.
"Dad!" cried the boy.
"There will be another fish," said his father.
"Not as big as this one," cried the boy.
He looked around the lake. No other fishermen or boats were around in
the moonlight. He looked again at his Father. Even though no one had
seen them, nor could anyone ever know what time he caught the fish,
the boy could tell by the clarity of his Father's voice that the
decision was not negotiable. He slowly worked the hook out of the lip
of the huge bass and lowered it into the black water. The creature
swished it's powerful body and disappeared. The boy suspected that
never again would he see such a great fish.
That was 34 years ago. Today, the boy is a successful architect in
New York City. His Father's cabin is still there on the island in
the middle of the lake. He takes his own son and daughters fishing
from the same dock. He was right. He has never again caught such a
magnificent fish as the one he landed that night long ago. But he
does see that same fish - again and again - every time he comes up
against a question of ethics. For, as his Father taught him, ethics
are simple matters of right and wrong. It is only the practice of
ethics that is difficult.
Do we do right when no one is looking? Do we refuse to cut corners
to get the design in on time? Or refuse to trade stocks based on
information that we aren't supposed to have? We would if we were
taught to put the fish back when we were young. For we would have
learned the truth. The decision to do right lives fresh and fragrant
in our memory. It is a story we will proudly tell our friends and our
grandchildren. Not about how we had a chance to beat the system and
took it, but about how we did the right thing and were forever
[ From Casey, via HeartStrings, via 'HeartWarming' ]
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