I Believe People Do the Best They Can

Hollis - Seattle, Washington
Entered on December 17, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: humanism

This I Believe

I believe that each of us as human beings does the best we can at the important moments in our lives. The best for some of us can be remarkable, beautiful or inspiring. For example, Pavarotti’s voice can make my heart rejoice. But for others the best is destructive, ugly and cruel.

Early in my legal career I represented a man in a capital murder case. My responsibility was to examine our client’s life from childhood to the day of the killing in preparation for explaining to the jury how this person could kill a young father for a few dollars and still qualify to be part of the human race. My exploration answered the question. While I hold our client fully responsible I know that in the moment he committed the unspeakable act he was doing the best he could given the tumultuous world in which he lived.

When my older brother took his own life in my grief I asked the question how could he hurt those who loved him so much? The only explanation was that he had done the best that he could do in the moments leading up to his death. Had he been able to do better he would still be alive.

Soon I will take an oath to become a Superior Court judge. In this position every day I will be called upon to see the follies, mistakes and tragedies of people who for a wide variety of reasons are living their lives in conflict with others. Some of these people will have committed unthinkable acts and I will be called upon to judge them according to law. I intend to do so firmly but with compassion. I may not be brilliant or remarkable in fulfilling this responsibility but I will do the best I can.