How to Steal Candy Ethically

by Ariana Pasalic

Ariana is the recipient of our Youth Scholarship Essay Contest for the 5th and 6th grade. She is a 6th grade student at McClure Middle School in Seattle.

Her essay below is in response to the prompt created by the WAESN Youth Advisory Board (YAB): Tell us about a time you broke the rules and why. Ariana’s essay was selected by a vote of the WAESN YAB.

All things happen for a reason, and that saying is still true for human behavior. Motivation + anger = revenge. From experience, I can say something happens, and people get mad and say it is unfair. As ridiculous as the cause may be, people think that it is an exception to do something that may not normally be allowed. But as the old saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right.

It was Valentines Day! Both classes were having a Valentines Day Party. At the end of the day, everyone’s favorite part came. The candy! The teacher had big bags of candy provided by parents for the kids. The teacher went to his desk and looked through the candy. After a minute, he walked around the class picking specific candy out of the bag, going around five times instead of giving us each all our candy at once. That was that. No one knew what to say, or why 3/4 of the candy bag remained. 

The next day, my class found out that the other class received five big handfuls of candy, not five pieces. I don’t really care about candy, but my classmates were furious. They went at once to the teacher, who now had a stash of candy hidden behind his desk. Rumors went around that he eats them. When kids asked, he said, “Candy is not good for children. I am doing you a favor!” As I said, I do not care about candy, but I was upset about the situation. The class had a theory and ‘evidence’ that the teachers had some sort of bias against my class, and this was their concluding piece of evidence. 

Soon, kids began targeting the candy stash. I was there most of the time and saw kids take the candy. Even though I never took candy myself or said anything, I kind of engaged in it. I thought it was fair and even. I remember some friends that bought candy complained about the teacher eating them. Can we really call it ‘justice’ with a topic as ridiculous as candy? This was my class’s way of serving justice and serving candy. 

My classroom community began feeling increasingly satisfied with their candy amounts. The teacher did not. This is an example of ethical disagreement. Now, I don’t think teachers had a bias against my class. It could have been a small miscommunication. I wonder what the teachers really thought about this. The actions of my class taking candy helped kids feel like they can make a difference when they don’t think something is right. Maybe what my class did was wrong. Maybe the teacher didn’t give us the candy because he wanted us to be healthier? We will never know. 

I can look back today and reflect on my younger self’s decisions. I will say this has changed my view of what’s ethical. Experience is a chance for me to think about what happens and apply it later to my life. This Candy Incident has surely given everyone involved something to think about. Why? Why did I do it? What was I thinking of accomplishing? Another time in class, we had an Ethics Bowl. It really got me thinking about ethics and right or wrong. But that is the point of ethics! To really make you think and reflect. That’s what everyone should do. I always like to ask myself why? Maybe something can be ethically wrong, but still be good? Take the Candy Incident. Maybe it was wrong of my classmates to steal candy, but it was a valuable experience to learn from. That’s the philosophy of ethics!

I am one of the people who love the why of things.”                                                                                                   – Catherine the Great

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