Monday, January 11, 2010

Jury Duty

I had jury duty several months ago. I was chosen to be on telephone standby. Stories are legion of people summoned to jury duty, then simply made phone calls for a week without ever having to show up. That being the case, I set my week up with a full load of appointments—all of which had to be canceled on just the second day I called in. Being (un)justly irritated I showed up for my normal turn at being part of the US judicial system and was summarily convicted of being a whiner. Why, with all the injustice in a place like Iran where pretty much everyone in the world is watching the religious establishment attempt to pull off a fast one on the populace who are tired of having fast ones pulled off on them, should I whine about being part of a system of government where there is at least an attempt at justice.

That old Christmas film “The Grinch” starring Jim Carey comes to mind when in an attempt to curse the towns folks, the Grinch goes into their post office and sends all the towns folks black mail letters and jury summons, “Jury duty, jury duty, black mail, black mail,” chants the Grinch. It’s humorous. But on this occasion, as I pondered the case I was potentially being seated for, I realized that I had been terribly wrong to whine.

It was a criminal case, a robbery, with only one witness! There was alcohol involved. One of the defendants looked like a criminal. The other looked like a high school kid. Neither of them could speak English. It was clear that some injustice had occurred—or was about to occur. Any way you cut it, the twelve people seated on that jury would decide the future of these two young men. Maybe they were guilty! Who knows? I was never seated. But I realized in those few days as I sat waiting for my turn to participate in, not simply observe, the justice system at work, that in that our attempts at justice, as imperfect as it is in the US, is a gift. I want to be part of it.

There are plenty of ways and no lack of opportunity in this country to be involved in justice. The question is whether or not I’ll actually take the next step and attempt to get involved. Maybe all it will take to get started is a phone call. Maybe, in one sense, I’m still on telephone standby. I love that old prophet who noted, “Let justice roll down like water…” What kinds of justice should I participate in and how: economic justice, racial justice, or legal justice? How about the injustice of the sex trade in Cambodia or the injustice of bias in reporting the news (from both left and right)? Are any of us really just? Is there any justice at all? I think so. But maybe I’m biased!

God is just-- though at times it does not seem so. But then, what one person thinks is just, another experiences as injustice. Its puzzling. Perhaps I can say one thing that cuts to the heart of this post: Jury duty is a privilege. Yes, it cuts into our routines, but as an American who believes in a just God, jury duty is a privilege, and an easy one at that, to participate in. Perhaps guys like me need to whine less and participate more.

Its Been a While

Last night I finished a short vacation. I took it after (nearly) finishing a huge work project related to our team web-site ( Last night is the first night I've felt like blogging since this fall. Then this morning I got a response to an old post. I'm motivated to get back in the game. I'll be working at a church in Seattle beginning February. My posts will reflect some of that work as well. Thanks for reading.