How will I know you?

Two questions have been running through my mind for two weeks now:

How will I know others?

How will they know me?

I was called to federal district court jury duty this past week. I met a number of people from all different areas around Chicago.

I had decided within the last couple weeks, to be more open to people that I don’t know. I have a natural passion to know and understand people so I decided to tell a little bit about myself to complete strangers from different backgrounds and try to be completely present to them.

As I listened to the questions everyone was required to answer for both the judge and lawyers as they decided who to pick for the jury, I realized that my bio actually didn’t say very much about me. It contained all of the things that I have done in about the last 10 years, where I work/live and who lives with me. I even said my favorite TV shows, news stations, hobbies and interests. I quickly realized that these facts didn’t represent how I got there.  This group of 22 people really wouldn’t know each other unless we sat down and talked at lunch.

So I met three new people at lunch whom I will never see again. They got to know me a little and I got to know them. We discussed our fears and our hopes and what our greatest concerns were for the day. I talked to others in hallways about children, colleges and health.

I felt that the plaintiff did not have his day in court because of the way the jury “looked” based on our biographies so they settled during lunch. I don’t know whether his case was valid or not. All I know is you could get one impression from this group of people that was not really representing their lives, where they came from or who they were. I know that we can’t give our life story to everyone that we meet but it reminded me once again that I cannot ever assume I know someone from the little I have talked to him. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has gotten very little press lately I think because we seem to label everyone. Today standing for something and fighting for something defines you. You are put into a category or a “box”. I think that this is sad. We should not assume anything. So what defines you? And how will people know you? Everything I have learned about sociology, theology, and psychology points to the basic general need that each person seems to biologically have: to be known, loved/accepted and understood. But how will they know me if I am afraid to tell them?

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