The Best I Can Do

by Christian Thomas Golden

I was taught something that I don’t agree with: that all individuals are always doing the best they can in their situations. I was also taught that when people make mistakes, they make them out of ignorance.

I was taught these “facts” at a 6-week training academy through New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services as a condition of employment at a state-run juvenile correctional facility.

When I decide to eat cereal instead of eggs for breakfast, am I doing the best I can? No. When I play a video game for three hours instead of exercising, am I doing the best I can? No. When I punch my friend in the face for pushing me, am I doing the best I can? No. When I vandalise property with my friends, am I doing the best I can? No. When I steal $100 from a drug dealer, am I doing the best I can? No. When I choose to drink underage, am I doing the
best I can? No. There is always a choice, there is always the awareness of the options, and there is always a conscious judgment I make as to which option is most desirable at the moment. It is the root of that judgment which reflects our character (either positively or negatively).

I am not saying that one’s judgment is not influenced to some extent by their environment. Rather, I am saying that regardless of environment, the individual always has the capability of making the right decision. Even if I have a gun to my head and the gunman tells me to renounce Jesus, I am not doing the best I can if I renounced Him. I can choose not to renounce Him even if it means death.

Is that extreme? Yes. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it simple? Yes. Is it true? Yes.

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