“They are children. They do not understand the consequences of their actions,” a curly-haired redhead said with conviction. “They have not yet matured.”
“Not matured?” The words came from a burly, dark-haired male. “Just how long should we give them to mature? Should we give them another thousand years; perhaps two?”
“It will take as long as it takes,” the woman countered, leveling her green eyes at her opponent. “Are they not worth the risk?”
“No, they are not,” the man screamed. “They are still caught up in petty prejudices and silly differences that make no sense at all. They should have outgrown this phase by now. It is enough that they’ve been given this much time to change,” he huffed. “They will never change. They are arrogant and cruel, stupid and lazy.”
“Not lazy,” the female countered. “They are anything but lazy. They’ve made great strides in the last 100 years.”
“Some of them are lazy. They sit back with their hands out expecting everything to be given to them on a silver platter,” the male continued.
“That is too simplistic a description. Some of them have not been afforded the opportunities of others. You would condemn them for being unable to rise above their station?” The woman put her hands on her hips to emphasize her point.
“Some of them, yes I would. Many have risen above their station with good, old fashioned work.”
“Ah, then you make my point, do you not?” The woman smiled, lighting up the room with its glow. “There are many children who rise to the occasion.”
“There are some, I agree,” the man responded. He was obviously upset at having been cornered with one of his own points. “But many more do not.”
“What about the great among them? Would you have them sacrificed for the others? Among them could be leaders, poets, painters, musicians; people who could change the world around them. Wouldn’t that be throwing the baby out with the bath water so to speak?”
The male glowered with frustration. “I would ask this: How about the dregs among them. Worse yet, what about the criminals and those who would sabotage future growth? Would you save them too?”
“I might,” the female answered, her voice lowering. “Many of them could change, given the right circumstance.”
“Many of them will not, no matter the circumstance,” the man pushed. “Which number will be higher, I wonder?”
“I don’t know that,” the woman admitted, her face defeated. “Still, I think it is worth the risk.”
“I do not,” the man shouted. His voice echoed throughout the halls.
“What if we both pick an example and see how they weigh on the scale?” The woman smiled as she looked at the judge. His nod pleased her.
“I present to you, Candace Morton. She is just 16-years-old, yet she has already worked to start a teen center in her town for those who are less fortunate than her. She single-handedly raised the money through grants and put together a board of citizens to oversee the center. She volunteers much of her free time there as a tutor and a mentor.”
The woman paced back and forth nervously as she spoke. “Candace has spoken quite eloquently before huge groups of people, trying to elevate the job opportunities for youth. She’s a God-fearing woman with nothing but love in her heart. Would you honestly wipe her out with all the others?”
The woman turned to look straight at the judge. “She is not alone in her quest. There are hundreds of thousands of others all over the world. They are trying to make a difference. They are committed to making a difference. They deserve the chance to do so.”
“It’s my turn,” the male snapped. “I present to you Donald Lambert. He is 17-years-old. He comes from a well-to-do family. He was afforded all the privileges of wealth and education. Instead of using it to better the world; however, he has chosen to throw away his opportunities.”
Moving to the bench, he addressed the judge directly. “He uses drugs and drinks excessively. That has led him to commit a hit and run murder. His father got him off on a technicality. Consequently, he learned nothing from his mistake. Now, he is contemplating blowing up his school because he doesn’t like some of his peers.”
“You can’t know he will go through with that,” the woman countered.
“You can’t know that he won’t,” the male responded. “He could cause the death of over 400 students if he goes through with his plan; your Candace among them. Is it worth the risk?” The male smile with satisfaction, certain he’d made his point.
“Enough!” The judge stood over the two combatants. “I need time to think. There is a lot at stake here. My decision will affect children everywhere; not just the two cases you presented. I’ll call you back when I’ve made my decision.”
The man and the woman nodded agreement and exited the court room. Neither was certain they’d made their case sufficiently.
Noel quivered at the thought of a negative decision. While she might understand it, she knew she couldn’t live with it. She wished she’d spoken more eloquently.
Daniel was confident that he’d made his point. There was little doubt in his mind that the judge’s decision would weigh in his favor. How could it not? It was time to start over with a clean slate.
Hours passed. They turned into days. Finally, the word came down that the judge was ready to render a verdict. Noel and Daniel were both quick to enter the court room. They stood before the bench and waited.
“You have both made your cases well.” The judge looked down with contemplation. “There is, however, one point that neither of you raised. It was my decision to grant mankind free will. Had I not done that, many of the problems about which you spoke, Daniel, would not exist. The same can be said for the accomplishment of those for whom you advocate, Noel. Man is free to choose his own path. Unfortunately, some choose poorly.”
Taking a breath, God sighed. He admitted to being tired of the bickering, the prejudices and the killing. Part of Him wanted to end it all with a swipe of His hand. Another part of Him knew He could not.
“I made man in my image but I also hindered him with free will. Therefore, I cannot expect him to make all the right decisions. I wish that I could but that’s simply not realistic.”
Stopping, He looked down once again upon the figures of Candace and Donald. He seemed to hesitate slightly over his next words.
“The good of mankind justifies their existence; at least at this point,” He whispered. “I do not think that will always be so. There may come a time when I must destroy my creation again. I fear that time could be sooner than later,” He sighed. “But it is not today. Today, Noel, I judge on your side. You have done well, angel. You may return to your regular duties.”
Looking at Noel’s opponent, God weighed His next words carefully. “You also made valid points, son. I will keep better watch on my charges. That I promise you, but for today I must continue to believe that their good will prevail. Return to Lucifer and tell him – “not yet.”