There never seems to be a “right” time to be called for jury duty. It almost always interferes with our daily lives, which typically include the bread-winning jobs that help us make ends meet.
When I got that dreaded letter in the mail this past weekend, saying I’ve been called to do my civic duty Aug. 5, my heart initially sank. I was able to avoid the call when I received it in 2011 due to still being in college – but no such luck this time.
However, the more time I spent thinking about what the process entails, studying it and talking with those around me who have previously been called, I began to think it might not be so bad to be selected. Because being part of a jury would necessitate multiple human dynamics we need in everyday life – at home, at work, anywhere.
When a prospective juror arrives at his or her assigned court, you fill out a questionnaire and participate in the jury selection process. Someone who has been called for jury duty is either picked to serve on a jury or dismissed. If selected, they’ll take part in a process most only see in TV shows – prosecutors and defense attorneys in either civil or criminal cases make their case for their clients, and the person’s charge is to sift through all arguments and evidence presented to make a decision on the accused’s fate.
On the surface, it’s just a mundane rite of passage many adults have gone through.
But here’s the thing: Being part of a jury means being part of a team. It involves taking others’ viewpoints into account to reach a decision. There can be no split decision, no unresolved thoughts left unspoken. If there’s a thought that could impact the decision, you voice it. After all, real-life consequences for a person hang in the balance, whether the charges be major or minor.
We can all take a lesson from that.
In this life, every decision results in an equal and opposite consequence or reaction. The ripple effect of each decision may not manifest for days, months or even years. And we can’t control every aspect of life, no matter how much we’d like to think it’s possible. But what we can control is putting our best foot forward, with conviction, no matter the situation or the resulting domino effect – which often requires collaboration with another.
In burgeoning Fort Bend County, different viewpoints abound, and that conviction (despite our differences) is what makes this county great. So many people passionately defend their native or adopted home, and do so purely with the intent to change it for the better moving forward, and the county is better off for it.
So you see, the lessons go beyond the courthouse.
I’ve seen and heard of my mother and father, and friends, trekking their way to county courthouses to take part in this. Some have been selected, others haven’t. But one thing I can say for sure is that they took something from it.
In my father’s case, it’s the perfect fit for his attention to detail. Whether it be a simple task such as neatly stacking boxes full of Christmas ornaments, or crucial tasks such as job applications and tax returns, he has always demanded perfection. And while it drove me ballistic at times, I have gradually grown to see that we should do everything in life with the intent to do so perfectly.
That may not be possible, but it’s a goal he has learned and preached from his life experiences, including the jury duty selection process, which resulted in him previously being selected to be part of a criminal burglary trial in Houston. It’s one for which we all should strive.
Further, the friends I’ve encountered who have done this are some of the most thoughtful and conscientious folks that I have ever been around. And from talking with them about the experience, I believe it’s a combination of an innate sense they possess and the attention to detail required of them to process all the information being thrown at them.
During a trial, and even during the selection process, we must pay pinpoint attention to every detail presented, no matter how minute or mundane. It’s the same outside on the streets of Fort Bend County.
During everyday life, a simple miscalculation can be the difference in a work project coming to fruition or falling apart at the seams. In the midst of a natural disaster, such as ones we’ve encountered over the last few years, a seemingly minor error could literally cost lives.
I admit that last example is a bit extreme, but the sentiment is applicable to most situations.
Our reporting here at the Fort Bend Star shouldn’t be mediocre. We should be striving each day to bring your communities coverage of topics that matter in the most accurate way possible.
As a former athlete, I can tell you we’d be running laps or suicides for not giving every ounce of effort in our bodies or working to fix our weaknesses.
Further, paying attention to the details of our friends’ lives and the lives of our significant others, parents or children is imperative to being the best friend – or whatever – we can be. If it goes in one ear and out the other, what’s the point of even feigning interest? It’s not fair to the other person.
We all try to be the best son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, friend and person that we can. And we all slip up, myself included. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be better each new day than we were the last.
Ultimately, that’s the real-life lesson I believe we can take from the jury duty selection process. I’m ready to do my duty.
“Just OK” should never be our benchmark, and I don’t intend to make it mine.
Follow the Fort Bend Star on Twitter @FortBendStar