Jury duty. My service has precisely coincided with the longest stretch of sunshine this winter. We can tell because someone reported a little patch of it in a high window.
It is in fact an awesome responsibility to have someone’s fate in one’s hands; certainly in a criminal case, but even in a case like this one, where someone’s counting on fifteen million bucks to live on, and the other entity is merely a hospital that could pony that up in an afternoon if they bill enough aspirins. We are taking this seriously.
In a very disturbing element for your correspondent, I must report that for eight days now I have been leaning toward whichever side spoke last. The closing statements should be a dead heat.
This is upsetting, though. Perhaps it just speaks to the skills of the lawyers. Perhaps it just means I have an open mind. In fact I do have an open mind, but once it starts to fill up with testimony, there should be some precipitate in the brain pan. What if having an open mind just means there’s a bunch of air going through there?
This condition does not apply to politics. I have firm opinions in the realm of national and world affairs. I stand ready to inflict them on you at a moment’s notice. Not only do I have opinions, but I know they’re right, even the ones that are uninformed, and I know which people are wrong wrong wrong. If it’s late at night and I’m one beer over, I’ll let them the hell know, too.
I think I remember a time in my life when I could throw out an opinion in public, and it could be volleyed about, and sometimes my opinion would be shown to be over the line and sometimes it would dink the net and drop fair. Everyone claps politely and we try to make some more points.
That never happens anymore.
Now I throw out an opinion in good faith, and discover that my debate opponent has been inseminated by fallout from passing chemtrails, resulting in an involuntary measles vaccination. And that this experience will inform every aspect of his world view.
Or that she is single-mindedly devoted to assuring that a series of perfectly dreadful events will occur in a precise order, leading up to the Rapture for herself and her identical friends.
Or that the person is just wrong. Even before I assemble my bullet points and trot out my data and proofs, I know the other person is wrong. Because he or she is unkind.
That’s the tell.
Kindness is not the same as naiveté. It does not preclude disapproval. Kindness is a willingness to recognize the humanity of others. People are not kind who feel safe only when they have constructed barricades and identified enemies, even if they have to make them up. Kindness is a thin thing if it applies only to identifiable members of their own tribe. If a person falls easily into gross generalizations about any group, they are lazy, fearful, and unkind. And wrong.
If you’re not sure what to think, you start by cultivating kindness. You can always hang ’em high later.
Lawyers specialize in obfuscation. I pay them no mind at all. What I listen to are the witnesses, the defendant and the plaintiff, as they are generally untrained in being abstruse. I particularly watch their body language and the words that they choose. (I read a lot of books about these subjects and the "tells" for when people are lying. Lawyers, of course, know about these "tells", so they avoid them. Regular people, however, even if they have been coached, will generally resort to one of these by sheer force of habit.)
We all, ALL, agreed the plaintiff was horrible, but that's all we agreed on. He had tells out the wazoo.
The verdict is: Be kind to each other.
I honestly think the current president would be bearable if he wasn't surrounded with people who don't give a shit about anyone else.
That is an entire group, if not party, that doesn't give a shit about anyone else.
The last 2 paragraphs – Brilliant.
Brilliant and beautiful.
More obvious than brilliant, I'd say, but thanks.
Well, two years ago my sister threw a glass of wine in my brother's face…I heard about it third hand and glad I was not there. This may seem normal to some folks, but those of us of Italian heritage do not waste wine so carelessly.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
Which one of them was in the right?
Has Anonymous been bothering you again? Let me at 'em…
Naw. Bless his heart.
Of the 8 people that work here, 2 had to interview for jury duty today. One is back and the other will be gone for a couple of days. If everyone would have been kind in the first place we wouldn't be in this pickle.
I love the entire idea of being in a pickle.
[credit due for not inserting "relish" joke]
[Credit rescinded for pointing out lack of insertion. It was jarring.]
I set it up and you let it go. Not sure if I should be hurt or thankful.
You’ve done it again. You’ve taken an interesting topic and, while writing about it with humor and the best quirks, you’ve turned into something both wise and current. That’s alchemic prose, and you’ve got it good.
Well, shoot. It's all right out there: those people (THOSE PEOPLE) we're all exposed to? They're just reflexively mean.
Love this concluding post. Agree with Nance!
All done with jury duty. Fun and games next Saturday, I promise.
Your penultimate paragraph?
A blessing for us lesser mortals. Just beautiful. Thank you Murr. x
Hey sweetie–always wanted to know: is "faiprort" just a slip of the finger that shall remain in perpetuity?
Pretty much comes back to the old adage "do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
It do, don't it?
I've been told I'm a kind person, but it's not always so inside my head. As for "tells" and body language, I'm clueless, just can't pick up on those things.
There's something to be said for keeping some things inside.
When I've served on juries, I've been impressed by what a weird process trials are for establishing what actually happened (and how bizarre it is that all this energy goes toward figuring out who's at fault, when the obvious first answer is "everybody, more or less," and the obvious better question would be "how could we have made this not happen?") we have this cultural conviction that the testimony of witnesses is the highest form of evidence, which flies in the face of everything we know about human beings' capacities and predilections. (I know, I know, helpful as always, Dale.)
How many times have you been threatened in a jury room, Dale? 😉
Murr, that sounds like another intriguing post . . . except for the whole "not talking about deliberations publicly" thing, I suppose . . . (That IS a thing, isn't it?)
It IS, until the verdict is reached.
Goody, no excuse for us not to hear all about this, then!