Realizing the greatness in people may sound monumental and may seem impossible in a day and age where people seem to care less of others, and only for themselves. However, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee we not only have greatness, we have humble, gentle, honest, authentic, and integrity all combined into one General Sessions Criminal Court Judge, Ben Hall McFarlin.
McFarlin grew up in Rutherford County, the son of a judge, attended Middle Tennessee State University where he met his future wife Brenda and were blessed with two children, Trey and Elizabeth, and four grandchildren.
Serving the citizens of Rutherford County on the bench for more than 23 years, McFarlin announced his retirement and many literally began to cry. Why is this? It makes sense that those who have had the opportunity to work side by side with the judge would be upset as they ponder his departure, but the defendants were crying. Why would criminals be upset that the judge they had to stand before and declare their fate decided to leave the bench?
McFarlin served to the letter of the law and ruled over thousands of cases, thus meeting many lawbreakers - criminals. While he had to declare the fate of many, he did so with a soft and careful hand. While these were indeed criminals in our society, they were also sons and daughters of someone, fathers and mothers of little ones, sisters and brothers of many, and more beautifully, they were all children of God.
In Veterans Court, you hear of stories of mother’s saying that they literally planned the funeral of their child, but Veterans Court saved his/her life. Now, rather than predicting a funeral, they can see their child grow and become successful in life. When a young man referred to himself as “garbage” in court one rainy day, Judge McFarlin sat quiet, and then responded softly, “son you are not garbage, you are a child of God”. Through patience and understanding, McFarlin exuded from the bench a generosity of spirit giving many purpose, and consequently a future.
When we sit around our dinner tables and talk about our daily lives with our families and friends, I hope together we talk about the greatness of people. It is within us all to reach out and lend aid to someone, to lend a hand and support one another. In these conversations we certainly will talk about Judge McFarlin and how he assisted many and remember him fondly with a smile.