I am doing my civic duty this week.
For reasons not clear to me, being a physician is seen as a positive by lawyers when choosing a jury. Hence, I have been going to court for the past few days and hearing a case.
Since the trial is ongoing, I can't write anything about it (not that you would want to know), but I can say that the trial is the least interesting part of the whole process. The most interesting thing to me is the interaction between the various members of a jury. There is not many places where such a diverse slice of society is sitting together in a room. The rich, poor, educated, uneducated, employed, and unemployed are all together and are forced to talk and interact.
We have an elderly white woman who likes soap operas, a single woman who just got out of college, an elderly Jewish widow, a hospital administrator, and several retirees. Perhaps the most interesting person on the jury is a black man who works as an electrician. He has gotten involved in working with getting boys out of gangs, as he "has been involved" on the street in the past. He was talking about the ability people have to change - not blaming their environments, but just changing the "want to" in themselves. I have great respect for people like him.
Being around diverse types of people is also one of the joys of being a doctor. I am glad I don't spend my days with other "rich white men." I get to be with babies, elderly people, rich and poor. I get to learn what is going on in their lives and help them through difficult periods. My job, very much like that of the jury, is to sit and objectively hear the story, figuring out what is really going on in their lives. Yet it is the flavor of diversity is what keeps things so interesting.
This is, by the way, the main reason I practice both internal medicine and pediatrics. I would get in too much of a rut if I was just doing one of them. Yes, that is my distractible mind.
So while the overall process of listening to the trial is not too much fun (the nature of the charges are quite disturbing, in this case), I relish the opportunity to talk as an equal with others who are from totally different walks in life. It is in the jurors box that the phrase "all men are created equal" rings true to me. I am no higher than the unemployed person next to me in the box. Yes, the system is gamed by many, but overall the system is far better than many. In that sense I don't mind having to do my civic duty.