The strongest men weaken
And the wisest men error
There is a good man who sits in jail.
I know him well.
Let me correct that.
For a few years, I knew him well.
I believe I still do.
I am not claiming he is innocent, because he is not.
I am claiming he is good, because he is.
It is naïve to define a good man as one who has never done a bad thing in his life.
We all have.
I don’t know if the value of one’s life is the accumulation of all the good one has done minus all the bad.
Or should you throw out the best and worst actions of one’s life and just look at the core?
Or does one just use the simple “Would I invite him over to Sunday dinner?” test to see on which side of the fence a person falls?
But what I do know is if the universe were to separate the good men from the bad, the man of whom I am speaking would undoubtedly fall on the side of the good – as he would pass on all of the above tests.
I am sure of that.
I am also sure if we all were to be judged simply by the worst thing we have ever done in our lives, not a soul who has ever lived would seem to have any redeeming value at all.
I tell this story, not to overlook or ignore the pain of this man’s victims, for that pain is very real and is most definitely permanent.
But rather I tell it in hopes of letting this man know he is an extremely valuable human being who has made a difference in my life.
I hope this knowledge will be the kindle which keeps the fire of his goodness burning.
That would be very fitting, as many years ago he lit a fire of goodness inside of me.
Sometimes good people make very bad mistakes – or choices – whichever you prefer.
When good people make bad mistakes, they know it.
It bothers them.
Right down to their core.
For them to live with that knowledge is their lifelong torture.
For them to confuse this torture with their goodness as a person would be a mistake.
Good people sometimes do bad things.
But they are certainly still quite capable of producing more goodness in this world.
A world that so badly needs it.
Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
For if every good man who has ever done a bad thing were to stop contributing good to this world, this world would soon be devoid of any good in it at all.
And evil would triumph.
And I just can’t let that happen.