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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Of Contentiousness and How Love Would Have You act
When he was very young....
Contentious and lacking deliberation
Let us start out with something fun. There is a place where differing views are really really important. The ability to express them and be heard is very critical. People are actually put in a room to decide the fate of other citizens. Multiple folks getting together to humanly judge another. Deliberations.
Truly this actually precedes the time of the Pharaohs. Probably existed to some degree in actual caveman society. Great minds like Alexander the Great, Socrates, Plato, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Geronimo, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, many many kings and presidents all dealt with it and helped in developing methods to make it better. And in this wonderful experiment known as democracy the common man has even had a say in how it works. Perhaps we could liken it to consensus building.
The best examples we have of it today, believe it or not, is in the U.S.A. legislature and in U.S.A. courts of law. Far from being perfect and still in development we hope. An interesting fact here is that the process seldom benefits from the tearing down of opposing positions or personalities. Although as in all things social it is regrettably present.
So we look at two portions of how a jury is instructed to carry out this critical task. The first one shall be regarding matters of civil disputes and the second on matters of criminal disputes, sometimes even life and death.
We are looking at these because it would appear that we are at a point where society has given everyone a public forum via the internet. And at a time when information is overwhelmingly available. And at such a time when we are faced with real choices regarding religion and politics. To be snobby about it we can see that the openness of discourse at least in most Western countries has allowed folks who have not studied or even given much thought to in depth discourse to publicly air opinions on matters beyond their grasp. The guy who goes to church once a week and nothing more and the guy who only knows politics from their favorite cable news “show”, now get to be self-made pundits.
We are contentious and lack deliberation.
Instructions for life?
Here is a part of a civil instruction given to jurors as the embark on their deliberations: When you go to the jury room, the first thing you should do is choose a presiding juror. The presiding juror should see to it that your discussions are orderly and that everyone has a fair chance to be heard.
California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 5009. Predeliberation Instructions
“It is your duty to talk with one another in the jury room and to consider the views of all the jurors. Each of you must decide the case for yourself, but only after you have considered the evidence with the other members of the jury. Feel free to change your mind if you are convinced that your position should be different. You should all try to agree. But do not give up your honest beliefs just because the others think differently.
Please do not state your opinions too strongly at the beginning of your deliberations. Also, do not immediately announce how you plan to vote. Keep an open mind so that you and your fellow jurors can easily share ideas about the case. “
Pretty cool isn’t it? Shouldn’t we follow the wisdom of centuries of fine tuning and contribution by great minds? Imagine if everyone actually followed these instructions in the day to day. Call me crazy but this is fully compatible with Biblical teachings.
Hey are you old enough to remember when people had to fight for their right to live free in their minds? Hooray for the love patriots.
Rush to judgment?
How about the similar criminal case instruction? Let us have a look. This is where the unanimous decision of the jury can actually decide life or death of a fellow citizen. I will put some of it here.
Criminal Law 3550. Pre-Deliberation Instructions
“When you go to the jury room, the first thing you should do is choose a foreperson. The foreperson should see to it that your discussions are carried on in an organized way and that everyone has a fair chance to be heard.
It is your duty to talk with one another and to deliberate in the jury room. You should try to agree on a verdict if you can. Each of you must decide the case for yourself, but only after you have discussed the evidence with the other jurors. Do not hesitate to change your mind if you become convinced that you are wrong. But do not change your mind just because other jurors disagree with you.
Keep an open mind and openly exchange your thoughts and ideas about this case. Stating your opinions too strongly at the beginning or immediately announcing how you plan to vote may interfere with an open discussion. Please treat one another courteously. Your role is to be an impartial judge of the facts, not to act as an advocate for one side or the other.”
I hope you noticed that the gravamen and importance of a decision does not really change the overall concept of appropriate deliberations.
Could it be the same for husband and wife, two children in first grade, and how about religion and politics on Facebook? What would happen if man would apply these principals in all their affairs?
I woke in the morning and jumped to the conclusion that I could not climb this.
Is it; pass on judging or passing judgment?
Well now just go ahead and throw into this recipe the ingredient of Love. Well we now have an issue. That doggone notion of “judge not lest ye be judged”. Sorry but that is impossible for man to do by himself. And now mix in a great admonition regarding what love is.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
A great big family -- related by love
Well that is a lot of quoting and citing other stuff. But I just think it is so darned interesting.
Let me relate a little bit about picking the folks that fill the role of juror. There was a time in this writer’s life when he made a living out of consulting with trial attorneys regarding the picking of a juror. At my peak I had ten hung juries in a row. That would mean that the jury could not decide innocence or guilt. Believe me I was not retained on defensible cases from a factual and legal perspective. Above all my goal was to pick two or more people that would never agree with each other, no matter the facts. So after hundreds if not thousands of hour of practice and study there was a rather simple in theory reality. Just by watching body language and other natural facts about a person, one can see in someone the natural tendency to not follow the above instructions. Forget about people with different views, those can change. Forget about things like age, occupation, gender, race or creed. Nope it is as simple as picking out a personality trait. There are people that do two things; Conclude prior to investigation and tell others what to think as they know they are right. You put two or more people like that on a jury and they will never ever unanimously agree.
Perhaps this teaches us something about people in general. Indeed it teaches us something about ourselves. For each of us have a bit of that trait within us. When our position becomes the goal, rather than how we reach it by living our lives – we can find ourselves in trouble. When Love becomes our goal we seldom lead ourselves astray.
A strange thought
In my writing I give the glory for the good things to God. But I do not and can not claim that any of my writing is the word of God. Interesting - of God and yet not of God.