"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: American

“safe for democracy” . . .

DSC_0424_4I’ve been in a kind of time-out this week during the day. When I went in on Tuesday as a potential juror, I was surprised to be empaneled on the jury for a criminal case in the Superior Court of this district. The experience was a real eye opener.

First of all, there’s a new courthouse building with large high-ceilinged rooms and technology such as TV screens on which introductory videos were played for the jury pool. More important, there was a tone and approach towards us jurors from the get-go: which was a highly respectful and appreciative tone towards the privilege of serving as jurors, for our taking the time and paying the expense (driving and parking fees) for serving on juries.

We learned that the American jury system is unique in the world. And that visiting jurists from Europe and Asia are befuddled by how our system can get individual citizens to serve on juries on their own volition. We were shown that having a vote and serving on a jury are fundamental rights and obligations for our democracy to work.

A judge came to the jury pool to thank us all for being there and for being patient while the trial lawyers prepared to argue their cases. When we were empaneled, our judge did the same thing, thanking us and instructing us not to talk about the case with ANYONE, not our spouse, not by email, not to each other. . . until the deliberations were completed. We, the jury, complied. Most of the time that we were sequestered in the jury deliberation room when we were not in the courtroom, we were near silent, not much chit chat among ourselves. We were polite but kept our distance socially.

Our case was estimated to last for four or five days but yesterday, we returned our verdict at the end of the third day. It was a complex Read the rest of this entry »


surviving . . .

It’s a sunny morning today and I have been thinking about the concept of survival. There’s been a lot to survive these days, even more than we’re used to: Hurricane Sandy and the Nor-easter that just blew through here before we had a chance to get our snow tires on. The election with its omnipresent barrage of name-calling and finger-pointing. Now, fears of a fiscal cliff. It doesn’t seem as though the press is willing to let up for one second from pounding us into the ground with more things to worry about.

On a more personal level, there are many stories of survival as well. Those who lost their homes due to weather, but not their lives. Kevin Krim, the father of two slain children in New York, who spoke with courage and grace at a memorial service in Avery Fisher Hall to remember them with joy as well as to mourn them. Long lines of people waiting to vote, waiting to get gas, waiting for power, waiting for trains and busses. All of the folks who came from far and wide to help repair flooded infrastructure and to provide help for those in need.

There was an animated window on the New York Times website on election day which asked the reader to fill in one word that described the feeling you had on that day. Words like “hopeful,” “worried,” and “anxious” appeared. After some reflection, I typed in the word, “American,” because for all the ups and downs, disagreements and vicissitudes that we as a country have gone through and continue to endure, we survive for the most part to take on life with something to say for ourselves, another day.

Surviving used to be taken as a kind of consolation for having made it whether or not it was how you might have wanted life to be. Now, it seems to have moved more to the center and describes day-to-day life. Even so, it’s worth acknowledging and taking a moment to be grateful for all that we still have, don’t you think?