Search Box

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Watch your lies, they become your reputation

One of my favorite inmate pen pal requests was written by one Daniel Lewis:

After explaining how he was convicted after his gun went off "accidentally," at the end of his letter he says:

P.S. Here's a little poem that I wrote.

Watch your thoughts, they become your words, They become your actions.
Watch your actions, they become your habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character,
It becomes your destiny.

Lewis obviously mashed the first and second lines together. Nonetheless, it's a clever poem, so I was a little suspicious about its provenance.

Sure enough, I Googled it and found that it's a well known poem. Here is the correct version:

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

The poem is variously attributed to Lao Tsu, Charles Reade, and Anonymous.

No one attributes it to Daniel Lewis.

So Lewis's claim of authorship doesn't exactly lend credence to his statement that his gun discharged "accidentally."

From his picture, it's apparent that Lewis, a lifelong Alaska resident, is an Inuit. I read once a long time ago that the incidence of sociopathy among the Inuit was only 1 in 500, far less than among whites, and that when an obvious sociopath appeared in their midst, the other tribal members would simply push him off an ice floe into the Bering Sea.

I also remember how Amerindians in general felt that the white man spoke with a forked tongue.

In this case, it seems it's the Inuit/Amerindian who is not speaking the truth.

Mr. Lewis has been in jail for ten and a half years, so perhaps he doesn't realize how easy it is to look things up on the internet these days.

I have two pieces of advice for Mr. Lewis.

The first is, don't go near any ice floes.

The second is a little saying I wrote a few years back:

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.


Anonymous said...

John, watching my new favorite distraction "Alaska State Troopers" I was interested to see the contrast between how the Alaskan natives responded to police questioning and how the non-natives responded. The natives tended to respond much more truthfully, owning up to the officers when questioned. In contrast the non-natives tended to the normal lies, evasion and dissembling. I can see that in a generally truthful culture in which communal values are important to survival that a sociopath would quickly stand out, and need to be ostracized. G

John Craig said...

That's interesting, thank you.

Though I'm a little dismayed to find that "Alaska State Troopers" is your favorite show.

John Craig said...

PS -- Though I guess a guy who reads inmate pen pal requests can't really talk.

Pete said...

Hah, caught in an act of trying to pass off someone else's work as his own. Tried to make himself out to be more sensitive and literate than he really is. Pretty lame game.

John Craig said...

Pete --
Agreed! (Even though that's pretty much what I try to do with tho blog.)

Anonymous said...

I have seen this man's poem on a poster at work (gasp). It hangs in an office. When I read the prisoner's poem, I thought to myself,
"I've read this somewhere before," and then I remembered the poster at work. Yeh, right, he authored that poem - my foot. This prisoner probably wouldn't have been smart enough to create such a poem (which actually isn't a bad one to read, having truth to it).

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
Exactly, he wrote that just the way I wrote the last paragraph of that post.