Finding the Road to Self-Respect

T
here is not a criminal in the world, L. Ron Hubbard tells us, whose life of crime cannot be traced to a loss of self-respect. And if we were to ask that criminal what is meant by a loss of self-respect, we would inevitably hear the most pitiful phrase imaginable: "one day I found I couldn’t trust myself."

How Ron came to recognize the import of that statement and its greater implications as regards the whole of crime and punishment is a fairly vast story. For when speaking of criminality, and the loss of self-respect, he explains, one is speaking of a spiritual being who has ultimately betrayed his own essence, who has broken the one contract he must not break: the contract with himself.

As an entrance into that realm, however, as a preliminary word so to speak, he points to a seemingly insignificant incident from the summer of 1924. The details are these: Having signed on with Montana state rangers to help with the cutting of fire trails, the then thirteen-year-old Ron soon found himself working with a number of young men late from the state penitentiary at Joliet, Illinois. Consequently, as he put it, one encountered all sorts of interesting complications, yet surprisingly or not, actual viciousness was rare. Nor, he concluded, did one find an absence of integrity, as underscored by the convict who drove two hundred miles in a stolen vehicle to return Ron a pair of borrowed boots. But in either case, he added, those of the criminal society "have strange ways of transacting business in life."


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