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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law


by Greer Illingworth (JD '10),

One of my favorite quotes comes from the ancient Greek philosopher, Isocrates, who after seeing his pupil, Nicocles, arise from a young prince to become the King of Samalis, implored that he never forget that "the finest sacrifice and the noblest worship is to make yourself as good and just as you can." I particularly appreciate the quote because it is realistic, not some fluffy statement that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Being "good," as noted by Isocrates, is a sacrifice. It is far easier to stay clean and be an apathetic observer of the world than to be a genuine advocate for goodness. Isocrates also recognized our limitations. Notice, he did not expect Nicocles to be completely good and just, he merely implored: "make yourself as good and just as you can." As aptly illustrated through the ages, we are fallen people, capable of great injustice, hurt, and hate. But, just like a greenhouse becomes bright when the sun shines on it, we can be bright when we allow the goodness of Christ to shine on us. With Christ we can move from being OF the world, and become IN the world; advocates who, as written in Isaiah 1:17, "seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow."

Throughout my time in East Africa, I saw the fallen and the good in man. I learned the simple truth that a good society is only possible if there are good men and women within it – people who actively embody lives of compassion, moral virtue, and civic focus. Without good people a huge void permeates society that no law or institution of man can overcome. In places like Uganda, where memories are filled more with death and destruction than love and peace, goodness is all that stands between a better future and more of the same. More people like Justice Lugayizi need to step forward, more people like my friend Myal Greene who selflessly left a life of comfort in the US to serve in Rwanda, more people like Captain Mbaye who courageously saved lives amidst the hysteria of genocide, more people who simply want to move beyond themselves, more people who want to learn and to help.

In spite of my inadequacies and imperfections, I hope I was able to contribute a few notes this past summer to that noblest form of worship; and going forward I especially hope that I can find the courage and faith necessary to truly make myself as good and just as I can.

Thanks for reading my blog this summer. Now, it's time to start the second year of law school.