Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2015
Texts: Proverbs 4; 1 Kings 3:9; Matthew 13:44; Proverbs 5; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Proverbs 6:1–10
Jury selection began this week in the Boston Marathon bombing trial. The tedious selection process will narrow down 1,200 potential jurors to a panel of 12 people. The lengthy procedure is for a suspect in the April 2013 explosions that killed three people (including an 8-year-old boy) and injured 260 others (16 victims lost limbs).
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a Russian immigrant who is accused of detonating explosives at Boston’s premier sporting event. If the 21-year-old ex-college student is convicted, the jury will have to decide whether Tsarnaev will be executed. Defense lawyers repeatedly tried to move the capital murder case outside the city, but failed.
Central to a fair hearing is the selection of a representative group of jurors who will listen openly to the hearings. As groups of 200 come before Judge George O’Toole, the potential jurors are introduced to Tsarnaev and then given the same rundown:
Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., gazing across the packed jury assembly hall in the federal courthouse next to the Boston waterfront, told the potential jurors from the Boston community that if they are chosen to sit in the trial, they must leave behind any preconceived notions of guilt or innocence, any biases or emotional scars in the last 21 months, and give Tsarnaev a fair trial. O’Toole said that it will be the jury and not he, the lawyers, the press or the local community still grappling with the worst terror assault since Sept. 11, 2001, that will decide if he is guilty and if so, whether Tsarnaev lives or dies. “What you do need is a commitment to justice,” he told the group.1
Our Sabbath school lesson this week looks at the role of listening in gaining wisdom. A cursory look at Proverbs 4, 5, and 6 reminds us to “hear” and “give attention” and “incline your ear to instruction.” Solomon warns his son to “lend your ear to my understanding” (5:1 NKJV).
Most of us struggle to listen well. Good listening is an art that focuses on carefully hearing another person. We tend to think of our own point of view and prepare responses while supposedly hearing the talker. The Boston Marathon jury selection brings out the difficulty of finding listeners who will give someone a fair hearing.
Though objectivity may be one of the goals in this case, being wise in our listening doesn’t mean we set aside our hearts. Our Sabbath school lesson shows how true listening is not just an act of the ears, but a process that involves the heart.
It would be tough to be called for jury duty in this high profile case, but each day we face situations that require excellence in listening. Perhaps this last week you’ve heard a fellow employee complaining about the boss, a teenager agonizing over a broken friendship, or a close friend raging about an unfair business deal.
How well you listen will determine if you will find true wisdom.
Recommended resource: usatoday
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