I was observing in one of our elementary classrooms this week and heard the teacher say something new-well, it was new to me. She was asking open ended questions about a geography lesson and had the students discuss their answers with their partner. When it came time to answer out, she encouraged the kids with this remark, “When you answer, don’t forget to give your partner credit for their good idea.”
I thought about that comment quite a bit. There is a moral principle there that is often lost in our society. Things like plagiarism are at an all time high. And those are happening in every area of life.
Questions came up last week about Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech and its similarity to a speech given by a preacher Archibald Carey Jr. three years earlier. In 1981, the Beatle, George Harrison paid a $587,000 settlement to the record producers of the song “He’s So Fine” (recorded by the Chiffons) because his famous song, “My Sweet Lord” was deemed to be plagiarized.
In 2012, Fareed Zakaria a well known journalist with both CNN and Time magazine found himself suspended for “borrowing” paragraphs out of an article in the New York magazine. That same year, Fox news had to apologize for rewriting, without credit, a story about dolphins that originally came from an Atlantic Wire article.
Seems like the skill the fourth grade teacher was trying to instill in her students about giving other people credit, needs to be taught throughout our modern society.
This week might be a good time to review the story of the Amalekite in II Samuel 1. He knew that Saul had been hounding and trying to kill David for a long time. Knowing that Saul had died during a battle with the Philistines, this young soldier thought it would be great to hurry and share the news with David. Thinking David would be thrilled with Saul’s death, he took credit for killing him.
In truth, after suffering critical arrow wounds, Saul took his own life (I Sam. 31:4). But the soldier falsely bragged, “I stood beside him and killed him…I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”
David was not thrilled, he was heartbroken and had the young soldier stuck down for touching God’s anointed.
Moral of the story: taking credit for someone else’s ideas, hard work or creative thought is just plain wrong. Spiritual assignment: let’s work on giving credit where credit is due.
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel