Differences in ethicsIt was in May 1977. Many years ago, but despite rapid changes on the global scale, this true story can still today be interesting.
From Imlil we ascended Toubkal. Only Slovenian mountaineers, but for the trek we had to hire local porters and mules. In the valley above the village we saw a few dwellings, which were really extreme examples of poverty of those mountain people: a small rock overhang, a few rocks for protection, otherwise people were carying all their property with them. After 2 days we returned to Imlil, from the mountain hut below Toubkal it was some 5 hours walk. The group was just moving backpacks from mules on the bus, when down the valley, in a hurry, a local guy came. He had an ice pick in hands, and when coming to the group, he tried to hand it over - like 'one of you forgot it'. Then someone from our group shouted loudly: "Who forgot an ice pick?" "Me", the owner shouted back, "above, at the hut"! Then he saw the local guy, offering him his ice pick and couldn't believe. The man was walking 5 hours after our group to give back the forgotten ice pick to the owner!
When the owner took the ice pick, an unbelievable misunderstanding occured. He was grateful and wanted to reward the local man with some money. But that one did not understand him at all: "No, this is your ice pick, not mine". "Yes, but thank you for bringing it to me"! And still wanted to give the guy some money. And the local guy, with some poor French expressions said that he was not selling the ice pick, because it was not his. For such a situation the guy simply did not have in his head any other "programme", but only that it was his ultimate duty to bring the forgotten item to the owner, and in that, there was no space for any reward. And he stayed firm with that until we left.
This event revealed to me the enormous difference between our "civilized" view on honesty and ethics, and the view of this poor mountain man. In which direction the humankind is evolving? I remembered the well know ethical principle: "Don't do to others anything, that you don't want they do to you". But this local man went in his honesty even much beyond that. He not only that did not do anything unproper, but he did something good. Just because he felt he had to. And regarding the reward - he didn't get any material reward, but for sure he got an inner reward, a personal satisfaction when he acted according to his highest possible ethic standards.