The Judge's Quest

Once upon a time there was a busy judge dedicated to justice, public service, and his profession. He was a good man. He had a beautiful wife and three children. His only shortcoming was he didn't have time for his family. After coming home from work he would retreat to his study. When his family entered and spoke to him, he would answer but rarely looked up from his work. He found, that if he did, it took awhile to find his place again.

The judge was appointed to head up a special committee to evaluate sentencing guidelines and make recommendations for revisions. He studied the guidelines and organized everything using a chart he invented. He felt really good about his work up to that point. However, something was missing. He felt he needed a benchmark; a starting place to use for measuring the seriousness of all the lesser crimes.

He lost sleep over the question. One day, a friend suggested, "You might try asking the wisest person in the world. He lives on the top of a very high mountain without any phone service or Internet access. You would have to scale the mountain on foot alone though. He's very picky about that." The judge answered, "If there is such a person, I'll find him. Thank you for the suggestion."

The judge did a little research on the Internet and found where the mountain was and drove there alone. He parked his car at the trailhead parking lot. People were walking around everywhere while others waited and socialized at the picnic area eating and sharing what they brought with them. Cars and pickup trucks continually entered and left the parking lot.

The judge noticed that people entering the trailhead looked fresh and alert while those exiting looked raggedy and exhausted. He grabbed his backpack with water and provisions and began his journey. He climbed and climbed. He had many close calls and suffered scrapes, hunger, and thirst along the way. The closer he got to the top, the fewer people he saw. He was weary and alone when he reached the summit. He slowly approached the old sage.

She sat stoic and still as he approached. He noticed a chair facing her and sat down. She suddenly asked him, "What is your question judge?" Her voice was calm and inquisitive. He was startled she knew him because she didn't have a phone or Internet access and never left the mountain. "aHmmmm," he said, clearing his throat. He wanted to speak clearly. He looked up at her and asked, "What is the greatest crime?" She looked into his eyes for a moment with a penetrating gaze that seemed to reflect back out again. In sorrow and kindness she answered, "To not look into the eyes of our children."

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