Voir Dire – Speaking the Truth

Yesterday morning I sat among 300 or so prospective jurors waiting to be called for one of five court cases scheduled for the day.  During the introduction, we were asked to view a video explaining our responsibilities if we were chosen for a jury, and to answer any questions we might have.  I was tempted to answer emails during the video, having been summoned to jury duty three other times.  But an unfamiliar phrase caught my attention: “voir dire” – and old French term, defined as “the action of speaking the truth.”  The void dire process involves the questioning of prospective jurors to uncover biases and ensure an impartial jury for a trial. Attorneys and the judge typically ask open ended questions that invite a conversation.  The process can be risky as good jurors may be lost through the process and other jurors may be contaminated in their opinions.  Even with this risk, jurors are expected to speak their truth. In my case, a preliminary voir dire questionnaire uncovered my bias and I was dismissed.On the way home, I was a bit disappointed that I had been disqualified and then it hit me –  this wasn’t about me!  This process was there to protect someone who was to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. If I am biased I may not be open to truly listening to the person’s story and this could have grave consequences.  Saint Benedict calls this “listening with the ear of the heart,” in the first verse of his Rule.  Ephesians 4.25 echoes the same spirit  when it says, “therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” If we truly believe each person we encounter is Christ, we also know that they deserve nothing less than the truth from us. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “As a matter of honor, each man owes it to another to manifest the truth.”  And although I couldn’t find a link, it was almost as if the process was lifted from the book of Zechariahwhich states: “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace.”

St Thomas Aquinas and Saint Benedict of Nursia...

About WalkingwithBenedict

I love how scripture comes alive with messages for our lives today. In praying with scripture, we are called into deeper relationship with God and others. We are called to the growth in love, hospitality, peace, humility, stewardship and hope. St Benedict's Rule provides a lens for how scripture can be lived in our lives today whether we live inside or outside a monastery.
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2 Responses to Voir Dire – Speaking the Truth

  1. Pat says:

    The truth is…I find it ironic that when first notified of our duty to jury duty we are immediately concerned with the time committment and all that comes with reporting for duty. The irony is how much we are discouraged when not selected. Sometimes because of the over abundance of candidates and sometimes because of a bias.
    I think it is the same when God calls. Mass, classes, ministries can sometimes get in the way of our plans, but when we participate in any of the above we usually come away with a feeling of satisfaction or appreciation, and are happy we made the time.


    • I agree. I am always grateful afterward for grace-filled experiences, but often resistant to prioritizing them into my schedule – that goes for Mass, ministry or prayer time. Somehow I can view these as the extras or optionals depending on where I am spiritually, emotionally or even physically.


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