Jury Duty and the Forgotten


 All day I kept picturing this image above.  I was summoned for jury duty and there is a lot of downtime.  I don’t do well with downtime and my brain just started wondering off into a world of its own.  Oh what a world it is.

 This picture is actually of a room in (I believe) a historical  State’s building in Illinois.  I know that is in Illinois.  I know that it is in a historical place and I know that I snapped the picture.  Beyond that my memory fails me.  This was many of years ago and I was in tourist mode so I was stopping at almost anything that struck my interest.  Anyone that knows me knows that isn’t something that I really do.  I do get in moods and this was one of those trips, but that is neither here nor there to the point.

 Anyway, back to hat point. So, I’m sitting there in the jury room bored out of my frickin’ mind. They made us watch this video about jury duty and how they did it back in the days of King Arthur.  And when I say that this video was about jury duty, I mean it was about jury duty.  I felt like I was an 8th grader sitting through the judicial system in social studies.  This video broke down everything.

 So, as I’m sitting there watching this video I start thinking about this room in the State’s building.  I could see all of the middle to old aged men sitting in the chairs and behind the desk.  They were all decked out in the black robes and wearing their white, curly haired wigs with these frowns of seriousness on their faces.  Each man would present his case and the others would listen attentively. There were no interruptions and no whispering.  It was an honor to be elected back then and they took the deed seriously.

Things have changed greatly since then.  During my time today they asked how many were excited to get that summons in the mail.  Out of 140 people, maybe 10 raised their hands.  Believe me, I was not one of them.  It is not that I have anything against jury duty, I’ve served before, but getting that summons is always an annoyance.  It is always one more thing that I have to do that I do not want to be forced to do.  However, at least I know what jury duty is. 

One of the jury managers told us a story about how she had to literally sit on the phone with someone for half and hour explaining what jury duty actually was. The girl told her that she had never heard of such a thing before.  I was taken back.  I learned about jury duty back in elementary school.  More in depth learning of the judicial system came later in years, but back in the day we were taught those things.  Curriculum has lapsed greatly.

 I was speaking with a woman next to me that was elected for the same jury as I was.  She private tutors for extra cash and was telling me how cursive and complete sentences are truly not part of the elementary curriculum anymore.  She asked this information of a teacher and was told that it just can’t be included.  The budget just isn’t big enough to include half of what they already do teach.  How sad is that?

 It made me begin to wonder just what is in store for our future. People that not only do not know what jury duty means, but they also cannot comprehend a summons that for all sakes of the meaning is in laymen terms.  Our future will be in the hands of those that have not learned to form a complete thought, because they were not taught how to form and convey a complete thought.  Now, by no means am I perfect and heaven knows that my writing is often in need of help.  The sad part about that is, they taught all of this when I was in school and my knowledge has just faded over time.  It has faded, because we are not always put in the situations where we can use it or we are not held accountable for it. Now, we’re just purely not teaching kids these things?  That scares me.

 How do people make decisions that affect others when they don’t have the proper education to even understand the decision that they are going to make?  How are they going to properly represent when they cannot even properly form the simplest of sentences?  What happens when technology is down and we have to rely on our brains to help us decide for something? I don’t know.  I think the curly headed guys of the past would be a bit disappointed in the fact that in some ways they were more advanced than we are.  They were forced to use their brains in their entirety and not just “get by”.  At least that is the way it appears to me.

 I don’t know what is about jury duty that makes people cringe besides that annoyance of having to clear our schedule for something that is not our decision, but I do know that is a learning experience that we could all take to heart. Not just in experiencing something new, but being reminded of the things that people just do not know.  I think maybe it is time we got back to the basics and start teaching some of those lessons that have long been forgotten.  I mean in reality no one should have to ask what jury duty is. Maybe what it entails, but not what it is.  More importantly, writing a complete sentence should be second nature (even if we don’t always do it, but we should at least know how).

Copyright 2013 ~SMH~ (writing and photograph)

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