Friday, March 23, 2007

CJ Knows "The Secret"!

Last night Jessi and I watched the much-heralded online movie, "The Secret." Basically, "The Secret" is as I expected--a compilation of truths about successful people, just wrapped up in different packaging. As I watched, I kept thinking, "oh, yeah; I read that in 7-Habits" or "that's in the BOM" or "that's completely obvious!" But, like Jessi said, if it gets people thinking and making positive changes, then that's great.

The basic idea of "The Secret" is basically what Jessi has said on our answering machine for several years, "What You Think About, You Bring About." Or, in other words, if you think you're going to be successful, you will be someday because you will "attract" success. I think it's better to say that your thoughts resonate in your everyday expressions and actions, so if you think "success" you will look successful and act successfully. That will, basically, bring success.

Enough of the philosophy. So why does Chief Justice Kruse ("CJ") know The Secret"?

Today all of the judges (and I) ate lunch together in the jury room. The staff insisted I go sit at the main table, although I didn't really know what the fuss was at first. There was a lot of food. Each judge (and I) was given a platter full of Samoan food. You know, the plastic platters you get at the grocery store; either it's a vegetable platter or a meat and cheese platter, they're about 12-15 inches in diameter. Full of Samoan food. That was MY dish.

So at this point I realized a family had brought the food in for us. Then I realized it was the family of a judge that was recently deceased. The head of the family came into the room and gave a speech, entirely in Samoan, which I assume was about the deceased judge. While he was talking, another lady and some of the court staff brought in 2 Samoan fine mats, large cans of corned beef, $100 bills and other gifts and gave them to the CJ, who sat astutely at the head of the table. The gifts were presented to CJ in almost a bowing position, like he was royalty. Finally, one of the judges gave what I believe was another eulogy (in Samoan), and we blessed the food and ate.

During this whole time, I noticed the rest of the court staff (non-judges-lawyers) sitting patiently outside of the room, waiting for us to finish eating. CJ finished eating early, which startled me because I expected him, as a Samoan, to eat quite a lot. He explained, "they (the staff) can't eat until I am finished." I just sat in amazement.

I asked CJ what this was all about, even though I felt like I understood some of what was going on. Apparently, CJ had taken a collection from the judges, which must have been quite a bit of money. Then, the money was given to the family of the deceased judge shortly after he died. This is a tradition in American Samoa (e.g., the Attorney General recently died, and every Assistant AG - get a load of this - was REQUIRED to give $200 to the AG's family) , although it used to be that you would give truckloads of gifts instead of money. Once you gave the massive gift, it was tradition for the family to turn around and give YOU a huge gift. CJ decided that he could avoid a big, unnecessary gift to the court by just giving cash. He was wrong.

The family gave the court all of the above, because it was tradition. You see? CJ understood "The Secret"! He knew that if he gave the family a gift, he'd get a gift in return. If he wanted a free lunch (no such thing, right?) he could give the family a gift. Of course, the whole "Samoan tradition" thing obliterates my theory, but it could work in the states too, right?

By the way, don't be offended by my reference to the Chief Justice as "CJ." I don't think you could get away with going to the U.S. Supreme Court and calling out, "Hey C.J. Roberts!" But in American Samoa, EVERYONE calls him CJ. Even attorneys.

Anyone want my leftover pork ribs?