Today is Monday, July 23, 2018

Choices, Choices

By J. Mar del Castillo

“It is not our abilities that show who we really are, it is our choices,” so said Professor Dumbledore to Harry Potter.

Life is a game, and what people face from day to day in the exigencies of daily life is making the right choices. Life is all about choosing among a variety of alternatives to get to the grand prize we individually seek.

The power vested on us in the judiciary is not an easy thing to come to grips with, for the office can be abused. Although justices and judges are obligated to live honorable lives, the reality is that some of them keep their conscience intact while some, sadly, have been desensitized and have become callous, on the rationalization that corruption is a way of the world and they can get away with impunity anyway.  With every case raffled to us for decision, scruples always knock us and dilemmas will always challenge our innermost being, making us choose to yield to what or to whom. For every case hurled at us, we take judicial notice that we suffer headaches or heart ailments attributable to stress, for we have to weigh in a lot of things before stamping our names on a decision that takes effect on people’s lives. We have to think over the serious legal and moral aspects of a case, we have to take sides if there is a conflict between law and justice, we have to choose between the lesser of the two evils, we face outside pressure and after rendering judgments, we face criticisms and worse, character assassinations. Depending on the morals we hold ourselves to, we are left to choose whether we dispense justice or  dispense with justice, we are given the free will whether to go with the flow of a corrupt system or to challenge it. Admittedly, even after thorough consideration and deliberation, not all decisions we make are the right choices: either they are outrightly wrong, or other people who do not share the same convictions with us would see our sentencing as wrong.  Whatever path a justice or a judge would choose, one thing is for sure: Responsibility is the price for making a choice. We hold ourselves accountable for every decision we render, and we reap what we sow. This principle applies to all human beings.

So we shape our lives by the choices we make.  Our choices leave their marks and ramify a lifetime.  The outcome not only influences us but also those around us.  We have the choice to live by the Golden Rule or subvert its day to day application in wanton violation and crazy rationalization; we have the choice of making a difference in this world or we can remain critical of our surroundings and stay as fence-sitters; we have the choice to stand for or espouse something or take no sides at all; we have to pick between logic or pleasure; or between a sure and safe option as against a riskier one but with more rewards.  In which case, we might just fall for anything.

Severe consequences, misgivings, and regrets result from bad choices. But at the end of the day, life teaches us that wrong choices are not a litany of mistakes we make but lessons learned. What can be done is to redirect our lives and resort to corrective measures, which again force us to make more difficult choices. Although this time, we are now equipped with wisdom and maturity to make better choices, and we are on the right path in making a U-turn to reshape our lives. We humans are not infallible, but we have the faculty for admitting our failures and correcting our mistakes.

For those who are hurting and still having a hard time dealing and forgiving the people remorseful in making the wrong choices in the past but are now suffering the consequences of their actions, take a lesson from the children’s book Because of Winn-Dixie: “You got to remember, you can't always judge people by the things they’ve done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.”

It’s been a year of challenging choices. The best way to begin the next year with a blast is to end this year well. And my wish for all of us is that may our new year be built on wiser choices. Have a Merry Christmas and a Significant New Year!

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