As I write this, I am sitting in the jury assembly room, just back from our lunch break. So far, I’ve not been called to serve. So far, I’ve been sitting, waiting, and working. It is quiet. There is coffee and wi-fi. All in all, not a bad way to spend the day, other than the fact that it is a glorious one outside.
I also recognize that I didn’t sacrifice a day’s pay, nor did I need to arrange for small children’s care in my absence. This experience is a new one for me. When I first got the summons, the date was Maundy Thursday. Hence, I got a reprieve and showed up bright and early on this May morning.
I’m impressed that this system works. Really. The organization must be mammoth. The communication extensive. The number of people it takes to make sure everything gets accomplished large. And yet, here we are, this random group of Guildford County citizens doing our civic duty, no doing our civic service the little video said.
I didn’t get called for years because I wasn’t eligible to be on a jury. I wasn’t a U.S. Citizen. That’s why I got a bit excited to be summoned and why I get downright giddy every time I vote. It reminds me that I am an active participant in something much larger than myself, part of a democratic system that is, of course, flawed, but also hopeful.
That’s the thing with all our institutions, they are riddled with problems, sometimes to the point of outright brokenness, simply because they are comprised of people. But that’s why they are, I think, hopeful, too. I imagine most of the people in these plastic chairs with me intend to do what they believe to be good and right. There may well be a few outliers with nefarious intentions, but they would be, in fact, outliers.
I wish, given the larger landscape of our political discourse, we could assemble random groups of people in a room with the intention of seeing justice served, of doing our small part to be in service to something bigger than ourselves, of enacted the most aspirational aspects of our institutions and systems for the sake of the common good. I know, I know, we were summoned here. There are consequences to ignoring that piece of paper. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we came together willingly and with a lot of hope, if not in ourselves or in one another, but in the One who created us all?
I believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, and, yes, there is a lot of evidence to the contrary, that most of my fellow citizens, and the people in our community who aren’t, want to do what’s right. I believe they are more compassionate than hardhearted. Those who don’t and aren’t, are in the headlines because their behavior is newsworthy and not the norm. Perhaps if we remember that everyone is flawed, but good, we might come together more often and more willingly to work for a world where our systems and institutions embody the best of us for the sake of all of us. This is after all, God’s summons.