The Tucson sun beat in through my double-pane office window, I could the feel the heat attacking them. The late spring time temperature was soaring close to the triple digits. Thankfully, the spring mornings are relatively cool, almost teasing your body and mind. I turned back my attention to the student in my office, my indifference easily readable to even the most absent-minded passerby. My gaze met the student’s eyes for a mere second and I knew the delay in my response was causing the tears to further well into their eyes. “Good, they deserve that feeling,” I coldly thought. I pressed into the student then, thwarting down their vain attempt to improve on their failing grade. “You will fail, regardless of what occurs here,” I surmised. My insinuation leveled their tears and brought forward a sterner disposition. Pleasantries were offered and the conversation promptly ended.
That was in 2003, when the unsettling discourse and struggles of my own academic life started to powerfully ooze into my interactions with students. I was a starved shark just looking for a minnow. The momentary power-trip, albeit rare, was elating, providing a momentary lift from my personal frustrations.
How do we weigh the damage that was inflicted and inevitable caused? How many future students does it take to offset the destruction of just this one? Was there a law that I violated, punishable by our judicial system? No. But does that it make it right? No. What other wrongs have we committed that are outside of our judicial system? Is something wrong/right just because our judicial systems says it is? Heck, on the Vegas strip prostitution is legal. Binge-drinking is not outlawed nor is smoking, albeit how damaging it is to your own health. Laws will inevitably be passed, it is up to the individual to realize the ultimate totality of truth that they may hold. However, where does the selection of our morality stem from? In other words, there is a set of actions, say A and B. Who chose A (do not rape) to be the just and right one? If our morality purely stems from an undirected evolutionary design, if the process was repeated would B (rape is acceptable) now be selected? Or does the process need direction, guidance to obtain A again. What information is then needed and where does that stem from? At an even higher level, why is justice preferred over injustice? Why is altruism deemed honorable, while selfishness dishonorable. Why choose such virtues as correct and true?
It reminds me off Psalm 40:8, ‘I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.’ I, like you, strive to do what is right, to follow the law within my heart, yet I, like the apostle Paul, do the very things that I know are wrong (Romans 7:24). I am guilty of an uncountable amount of crimes to the law written on my heart, who will save me? If justice exists then I am guilty, but the loving judge does not wish to seek the punishment on me. However, justice must be satisfied, someone must pay the penalty.
‘I’ll pay,’ is what Jesus says to my heart and I accept that forgiveness.
Praise you God for offering forgiveness. Offering the only path to redemption and justification. For I am a glass of water tainted by oil and my ‘good’ works only put more water in without ever removing that dirty old oil.