For the past six years, much of my life has been concerned with, for lack of a better term, "crime and punishment."
When I was a Public Defender, the work was hard, but the philosophical standpoint was easy: I had a client and it was my job to believe he was innocent and act accordingly. As a prosecutor, though, I've discovered it's not quite that simple. Now I'm supposed to figure out the truth -- and not only that, but I'm supposed to figure out what the "just" consequences are. I'm supposed to consider the evidence (or lack thereof), the jury appeal, the person's prior record, etc, etc, and come up with something that makes sense -- while satisfying my boss, the judge, the victim, and all the myriad other people who think it's any of their business.
It's enough to give a person a migraine, I tell you. And it's getting to me. I'm starting to dream of "happier" careers, jobs in which people aren't arguing and fighting all day long. Jobs in which I'm not constantly trying to come up with ways to make people miserable -- even if they deserve it. I'm just not feeling that I'm really behind it, anymore.
Today in church, the sermon was about Zacchaeus the Tax Collector, which besides inspiring one of the best Bible School songs ever, has a pretty good moral of acceptance and forgiveness. It seems, according to the story, that Jesus will forgive everyone: tax collectors, prostitutes, even Republicans (no, Republicans aren't specifically mentioned anywhere, but one can assume).
I realize that this is Sunday School 101 stuff, but today it struck me as revolutionary. Forgiveness -- just because you ask for it. It seems so comforting, but more than that -- it just seems restful. I can let go of that running tally of my own sins that I've been carrying around pretty much since birth, because they're already forgiven. And while, at work, I still have to figure out the consequences for other people's actions, somebody else (whoever that somebody else may be in your own head) is already taking care of forgiving them. It's not ALL something I have to solve.
I've been teetering around, religion-wise, for a while now, trying to figure out the answers to some questions that bother me. I'm not so sure, these days, what exactly I believe. I've even asked myself, now and again, "could I be losing my faith?"
But, putting some of those tough questions aside, I guess I'm still feeling good about the basics. This whole forgiveness thing? Now THAT's something I can get behind.