This column is going to be a bit different from many of my others that focus on specific court related topics. Instead, I would like to share some words of encouragement.
Truth be told, as a judge, I see some pretty horrible stuff. While many of the things I see are related to abhorrent crimes or from victim’s stories, but some of it comes from civil cases, too.
I suppose if I chose to view the world solely based on the worst of the things I see, I would become discouraged or jaded. I choose not to.
Instead, I focus on the best of the stories: The addict or alcoholic who achieves sobriety. The person with a terrible criminal history who turns their life around. The social workers and pre-trial services personnel who work with people to obtain basic human needs so they can start down the road toward getting their lives on track.
The people I work with encourage me, too; the public defenders and prosecutors who carry case-loads that would shock most people; the court personnel that balance so many duties and responsibilities that I watch in awe. Law enforcement and other first responders who work hard every day to not only protect the public but also scatter acts of kindness which seldom get noticed.
Groups and organizations around our county do great things, too. Robust organizations such as my Rotary Club in Los Lunas and small groups like the Valencia County Action Network — both work to improve lives for kids in this county. Thrift stores such as Adelante Bargain Square and St. Vincent de Paul that raise monies to help those in need and those with disabilities.
There are countless other organizations that are made up of dedicated volunteers, perhaps even ones you serve in, that make a difference.
Please do not get me wrong, I do not bury my head in the sand — I know we have problems in our community, in our state, in our nation and in our world. But I think we have more good in the world than we do bad.
We are in the middle of the holiday season; Christmas for some, other traditions, too — regardless of how you mark the holidays, it is a season to have good cheer and to look for the best in each other and in the world around us.
Perhaps what I suggest is easier said than done. I offer a few tips: Turn off the 24-hour news stations. Get off social media for a few weeks and just simply pay attention to your families and friends. Surround yourself with positive people. Give some time to charitable organizations. Thank a first responder. Take some cookies to your neighbor.
Most importantly, pay attention to the good stories in our community. I truly appreciate our local newspaper, which every week provides us with opportunities to read about our student athletes, local history and events. Yes, they report on the serious local news but I’ve never put down the Valencia County News-Bulletin and felt discouraged — in fact, just the opposite is true.
As each of us prepare to celebrate the holidays in our own special way. I wish you a very Merry Christmas season and I accept your well wishes in whatever form they take. I look forward to our next year and am thankful for each of the people in my life who make this world a better place and for a life worth living. Be encouraged!
Judge John Chavez, guest columnist
Magistrate Judge John R. Chavez is the magistrate in Belen. He is a native of Valencia County and is a retired U.S. Army colonel.