Earlier this year, I received a summons for jury duty. Now, while I respect that it is my duty and responsibility to serve as a juror, I was worried. I have a young nursling who nurses frequently and being away from her for a long period of time really wasn’t conducive to nursing. While I was thinking of how to write a letter, respectfully requesting I be excused from jury duty at this time, my husband, in his ever reassuring tone, vacillated between reassuring me that we would do what we needed to make it work and saying that I would never be picked for jury duty. In his words, “[I] am way too analtyical to ever be picked for jury duty.” Now, I would argue that you want analytical individuals to be on juries duties, but I took what he said as a compliment. I am analytical. It is part of what makes me such a great researcher. I love looking at data, breaking it down, looking at it from an analtyical perspective. This is great for science, for important decisions, for looking at facts.
Life isn’t just about facts, though. Life is also about people and people do not fall nearly as easily into the same categories as facts. It’s easy to forget. I, myself, forgot this last week. I was so focused on my task, matching up numbers, playing with the spreadsheet, and being efficient at the job at hand, in between taking kids to co-op classes, helping them with projects, and every day busyness, that I forgot that there was another person on the other end of those numbers – a person who needed and deserved compassion. I was so focused on doing what I needed to do and fitting it in with everything else, that I left my compassion behind. Without compassion, we are little more than robots. Without compassion, we lose our connection with others.
In one brief instant, as I lay in bed nursing and reading to my children, it hit me. I realized how I could have better handled the situation – with compassion. I found myself back at the computer, writing an apology to someone. It’s easy to become so focused in our tasks and our goals, and our busyness, that we forget about compassion for others. It’s something we need to remember. Whether we are a person dealing with a friend, an employer dealing with an employee, a politician dealing with people, or even a tired parent interacting with tired children, we can’t afford to forget our compassion. When we do, we lose so much. We lose our humanity.
Interesting perspective on jury duty! I remember when I was summoned for Jury Duty and I remember being berated by a clerk on the phone about my concern for my 11 month old nursling. “Every baby should know how to take a bottle” she told me. “Having to breastfeed her is not an excuse” . . . I hung up and called again, hoping to get someone else! Eventually, I was told to mark that I was a fully SAHM (even though I worked as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the State WIC program on an hourly basis) so that I wouldn’t have to leave Abbey.
ANYWAY – I love what you have to say about compassion. When we set aside compassion, we set aside our humanity. It’s not all about US 🙂
I was looking for a way not to do jury duty. I’m happy to serve – at a time when my civic duty doesn’t contradict my familial duty. So, when the kids are older, I will serve without complaint. I did end up getting out of jury duty, by the way. I wrote a letter respectfully asking to be excused a homeschooling mom of four children, the youngest of whom is nursing. It may have been the fact that I also included that if the court did not see fit to excuse me from jury duty, I was also respectfully requesting a private place to pump every two hours. The first time I sent a letter, it was postponed 6 months. The second time, I received a letter saying I was excused.
What a beautiful perspective. 🙂
What happens when we lose our compassion is very ugly. We lose our ability to relate, and this puts up walls between us and our friends and neighbors. We lose the ability to see sameness, to empathize. It is harmful on so many levels.