Something is troubling me, Dear Reader.
I received a jury summons a few months ago, and sent in for a postponement. Then I got my second jury summons and figured it would go as it usually does – call in Monday, be told to call back. Call in Tuesday, be told to call back. Call in Wednesday – be dismissed.
Well, long story short, it hasn’t gone that way. And here I am, a week later, still in the loop.
But that is not what is troubling me.
What troubles me is that, when I mention jury duty, everyone tells me how to “get out of it.” What magic word I can say that will convince the judge or the attorneys that I am nuts, or biased, or not able to give a person a fair hearing.
Now, I work in the area of education, a place where we are supposed to educate the youth – mold them into mature, responsible citizens.
Did you catch that last word, citizens?
How are we doing that if everyone is trying to tell me creative (and some, frankly dishonest) ways to get out of my civic duty? How am I modeling civic responsibility?
Sure, this is a serious case, with serious ramifications, and it will likely take a long time. Time I am sure would be easier spent in my regular job, taking care of my work responsibilities in the manner in which I am accustomed. But is that a valid excuse?
Heaven/God/Fate/Whomever forbid that I myself, or a family member, ever has to sit in front of a jury, but if they do I would rather it be a jury of 12 folks like me – educated, honest, caring, good citizens than just people who were “too stupid to get out of jury duty.”
I have been struggling with this for days now – how it seems we all think sitting on a jury has to be the worst way to spend our time. When in reality, this is one of the rights we fight for, one of the tenants of our community that we supposedly honor – the right to a fair and open hearing by a jury of our peers.
I understand the system is flawed – truly, I do. But why give up the little power we have because it is inconvenient? Is this the lesson we want to teach? That it is worth fighting for – this flawed system of ours – but only if it is not inconvenient?
Do I want the message I send to my students to be: “If something inconveniences you, even if it is for the greater good, come up with a good lie to get out of it”?
Because, frankly, I think they have learned that one already.