Apr 10, 2014 Kindness to all is persuasive strength, not weakness
Around seven years ago, during a short trial break in the middle of my defending a client charged with a second DWI offense within five years (carrying a minimum of 20 days in jail if convicted, which he was) and additional mandatory jail time for an allegedly elevated blood alcohol level (not convicted of that, because the prosecutor did not get the certificate of analysis entered into evidence before he rested his case), the prosecutor walked over to me and asked in a low voice for only me to hear: "How much longer is this bullsh*t going to continue?" What bullsh*t? My defending my client to the hilt to protect his liberty (resulting in delaying the prosecutor from starting his lunch?)? My ultimately going to sentencing without receiving an extra mandatory jail sentence for an elevated blood alcohol level? My achieving a sentence that allowed my client to serve seven days in jail per month to save his job?
Around two months later, this "bullsh*t"-spouting prosecutor had switched sides, opening a law firm close to his prior prosecutor’s office. I vowed to myself to treat him as a non-entity, never speaking with nor acknowledging him. He seemed to know I was doing this, and doing so intentionally, and has never made any efforts to communicate with nor otherwise engage me.
How small and counterproductive of me. The only thing I can try to say in my defense is that he is the only person in over twenty years whom I have intentionally ignored, and the only one since grade school whom I have intentionally ignored for years. That is right, I ignored this prosecutor for years.
I finally, late, grabbed and shook myself by the shoulders at my smallness and misguidedness when, thanks to my limited ability often to recognize people many yards away, I greeted him recently with a broad smile, mistakenly thinking he was someone else. He ignored me, or made like he was ignoring me, and I started rethinking all the unnecessary energy that I had been putting all these years into vilifying this ex-prosecutor with whom I have never needed to have any interaction since he spouted "bullsh*t" to me. I already told him during that trial break that his "bullsh*t" comment was uncalled for. I said it with anger, though, which is never empowering.
Leave it to my teacher Baba Ram Dass to set me straight soon after I accidentally smiled broadly at this ex-prosecutor (or was it an accident?), quoting from J.D. Salinger’s "Teddy", where a man asks a ten-year-old boy who seemed to be like a reincarnated knowing lama: <“'When did you first realize that you knew how it was?’ And Teddy says, ‘Well, I was 6 years old. I was in the kitchen and I was watching my little sister in her highchair drink milk. I suddenly saw, that it was sort of like God pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.’” Ram Dass concludes:
In other words, we are connected to everyone and everything. When I go through the day smiling broadly at those I hold dear, and giving a straight face to those I feel have crossed my path or the path of virtue, I am expending excessive energy on a weakeningly dualistic path. When I am truly happy and fulfilled, even the most sinister tyrants cannot interfere with my feelings of well being.
By having stayed for all those years in the habit of treating this ex-prosecutor as a non-entity, I had been seriously blocking my path to being stronger for my clients and me. It is not easy to see prosecutors, judges and cops who urinate on the Constitution. Ignoring such behavior is a disservice to my clients and humankind. Reacting out of anger simply weakens me. Dealing with such behavior effectively and with compassion is the way to go.
When clients, opposing lawyers and opposing witnesses, judges and everyone else know that I go through each day in powerful equanimity, they will pay more attention to my words and messages, rather than checking to assure that their body armor and shields are in place to deal with any bows and arrows coming from me. When I show powerful equanimity and compassion to and in front of my clients, they feel better and that equanimity is contagious.