I’ve been thinking about writing part of this for a while, thought about the second part today, but only decided to write because the third thing happened today…
I thought I’d talk about good things — something I love, something I love about this country and a couple signs that the world is still sane after all.
First, iPods. This year, for my 50th birthday my wife got me an iPod Touch, and friends and family gave me a whole bunch of certificates to buy music, etc. It was an incredible surprise, a great gift, and a memory for a lifetime. Anybody that knows me knows that I love music. Given that, I would have been happy just to put 2, 3, or 400 songs in one place that I could listen to on the way to work. Right now, I listen to TV themes on my way to work every day — some jazzy (Mod Squad and Peter Gunn) , some classical (Angel), some punk (Buffy) and some just great for gearing up for the day (Batman). It’s a great ride.
But my iPod does soooooo much more. It has a thing for maps, so I don’t have to buy a GPS. It has immediate access to my e-mail and Facebook without waiting for Windows 7 to warm up on my laptop. It has games. It has a calendar/appointment book. It has a calculator, a timer, a clock, games, and more. It occurred to me shortly after I got it that even the original Star Trek couldn’t have imagined a gizmo like this. Flip phones? Yes. But something like this? Not even close. I downloaded the whole Bible as an e-book the other day, am reading the biography of Frederick Douglass and I have an audiobook on the recent crash on Wall Street. And did I mention it plays music?!! It is the only device I need for most of my day. It is the modern technology equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife. I can’t imagine creating something like this and having it be a few inches by a few inches in size. I’m not particularly materialistic, but I LOVE this thing! Everybody should have one!
The second thing I think is great is jury duty. When I got up this morning to go to court, I literally wasn’t sure what would be “appropriate” to wear? Do I dress up because it’s important? Do I dress casually, nice, bummy or really fancy? Why? Because when I see jurors on TV, they look like all of those things. Why is that? Because they are all those things! Taking the special elevator and walking the secret hallways of the Court building, I felt important in ways that I don’t normally. And as I looked around the room at potential jurors, I was so proud . As I thought about my clients and their fear of going to court about their kids or drugs or what-have-you. If they got to sit in the jury box, it would feel incredibly empowering. And the fact is that some of them could be on a jury deciding some other member’s fate. And it was at that point that I realized that, everyone else in the room was also feeling important and valuable and like their voice would get heard. There were tall ones, short ones, Black ones, fat ones, skinny ones, I’m sure a few gay ones as well, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, too. It was America! It didn’t matter if you were a CEO or a parking garage attendant, a school teacher or a farmer — your voice was going to count! It was a wonderful experience and I thought to myself, frequently, “What if one of my clients got to see this side of justice? What if they went to family court and had their say about somebody else’s family and DCF? How would they vote? Or if they were prosecuting a CEO for something, would they be tempted to send him or her away just because they could or would the person have to be guilty? How empowering would it be to have your say on somebody else and the law?
In any case, jury duty — especially sitting on a jury — is one of the things we do right as a society. I loved being an American there, just as much as I love it when the Star-Spangled Banner is played at a baseball game. People talk about voting like it’s the American Dream, and it is. But being on a jury is too. You feel like your life means something there, and that your part of something bigger than you.
The last thing I wanted to talk about was the anger over the Koran-burning pastor and his church in Florida. The religious community finally all agrees on something. Everywhere I turned, there were people saying, “That’s not Christian. That’s not respectful. That’s just plain dumb in the world that we live in”. The supposedly non-religious world joined in — politicians and generals around the world were saying, “That’s not a good idea”, “That’s irrational” and “It gives terrorists something to point to”. As I’ve written in these pages, nothing seems too “out-of-bounds” anymore. People can say mean, irrational, rude, disrespectful, and dishonest things and people accept it. Well, it took a pastor of a small church in Florida to finally cross the line where people — as a whole — said “No. That’s too much!” It’s nice to have actual boundaries and actual morals and to have an actual line that people won’t cross. Maybe that’s a wake up call to sanity, once again.
Anyway, that’s my upbeat, happy news for once.