Bias. It exists. I willingly exercise it regularly in order to try and stay safe from harm.
But, that bias ran headlong into my desire to serve my civic obligations, vs. my desire to escape from a rigged system that long ago lost interest for me. Protest as I might. Study the issues as I might, I believe on many levels that the system is rigged, and that’s a whole other level of sadness and disenfranchisement.
While I try and be kind, I do sit in judgement of others. All the time. I assess them for threat value, as in, “If they decided to hurt me, could I take them?”, as well as, “Will they hurt me? How happy / pre-occupied with life do they (these complete strangers) appear to be today?”
I realize that this is a holdover of my fight or flight instinct from being regularly beat up as a child by my peers, but 35-odd years after my last attack, when does this instinct shut off?
When ? ? ?
At any rate, I’m usually very aware of assessing the “threat” value of the people around, but especially when in a crowd of people. Not pretty, but absolutely my reality.
As we’re going through the latest racial violence and related protests about which lives matter most, my radar is on heightened alert as America is busy losing its collective mind.
In my situation, I looked at the young man on trial last Wednesday morning, his suit too big and ill fitting, his skin pale from more than a year spent in jail awaiting trial, his hair shorn horribly close to his head. His attitude bored, as if he was inured to his surroundings and the serious reason that made him the accused.
While I wasn’t able to look at the details of the case on Wednesday, when I was selected for Jury Duty, they sent me away with a summary of the accused, and that fact that we would be hearing a criminal case. No one mentioned that it was a murder trial. No one mentioned anything about the case beyond a glossy summary.
Today, released from Jury Duty, I looked into the trial and I am thankful that I was excused from service.
Two wasted lives.
One alive and one dead, but both effectively dead because of a moment of anger on behalf of Timothy Guerra, and a moment of indifference on behalf of Denis Meshchyshyn.
I tell you all of that to tell you this – I don’t believe in woo-woo things for myself. I know they exist in the world for others, but I’m a very logical and fact-based person. I know that people can lose their minds in a heartbeat, if the provocation is sufficient.
But, I also know that there are steps leading up to the “inevitable” event that each of us takes which – if handled differently – would have resulted in a different outcome for everyone involved.
In my black and white world of fuzzy logic and grey zones, it’s clear that Denis Meshchyshyn would be alive tonight if not for the fact that Timothy Guerra had a knife on him, and used it.
In my book, there are zero mitigating circumstances for Timothy Guerra. Actions have consequences, and both 19 year old men don’t have a chance to “do over” the events that went down that evening.
Denis Meshchyshyn cannot get up and walk away from his grave, so the only amount of sentence that would interest me is 80 years to life in jail for Timothy Guerra.
When I sat in that court room on Wednesday, not knowing a thing about the defendant, the accused, my subconscious was saying to me, “Punk. He’s a punk. Look at his body language.”
In my case, it wasn’t ESP or intuition or a woo-woo moment, instead, it was my survival instinct looking at him and washing my hands.
Clearly, I know nothing more than what I was able to find out about the case today, now that the restriction was lifted from me, as a prospective juror, to not do my own investigation or research. No trial has yet been held. No verdict has yet been rendered.
But, my bias was showing, and I can’t feel regret for being thankful that my COPD got me dismissed from jury duty in the long run.