The False Contentment of Capitalism…and the Hollowness of Financial Success

Once again…a long title to a short blog.

When speaking of finance, I have been poor and now I am somewhere in the middle class.

When I was poor I worked 40 hours per week and more for charitable or non profit causes.

I attended church 4 times per week and I studied my Bible from cover to cover.

I wanted to be a minister.

I walked everywhere that I needed to go…because I did not have a car.

At times I was laughed at and held up for scorn and ridicule by the pomposity of ignorance…since I did not have a job, for several months, or, later, a good job that paid a nice salary…as many of my peers.

I moved out of my parents house when I was 17 years old…and during the remainder of my teenage years I experienced hunger and deprivation.

I recall what it felt like to attend church where the majority of the congregation were  eating plenty…and I had not eaten for the past 24 hours.

At the age of 20 I secured a job at SIU.  It was a janitor’s job and I doubled my income.

During the month of October, 1978 I was hired at SIU, on the 10th, and purchased my first new automobile on the 25th, which was a day after my 21st birthday.

While I was impoverished….I worked every day…and 8 hours would have been like a vacation.

To consider those who have less than we do or who are homeless or who are hungry….as not having the moxie or determination or intelligence that we have….is a hurtful misunderstanding that springs forth from a false construct that says that those who have money are successful and those who do not…are lazy.

The next time you attend a graveside funeral eulogy…look into the hole in the earth that the person is being placed in….it is the same size as the one that you will be placed in.

Rich or poor or in the middle…we all go to the same place.

All to often we obtain financial reward that is not commiserate with our work efforts, or by luck or inheritance or by being in the right place at the right time.

If our money has come from the pain and suffering of others….shall we expect similar living conditions in heaven?

Do your really believe that God who created the majesty of the countless galaxies that populate endless space….is impressed with your bank account or that he keeps score according to your financial prowess?

 

 

 

When I was poor and had nothing and walked everywhere and had little or nothing to eat….I was the same person that I am now…only younger and thinner.

The idea that the poor and the immigrant fleeing from torture is the root of the problems of our country strains credulity.

Perhaps the wealth of our nation being held by the top 5% of our citizens…is more germain to the issue of financial fairness.

‘For God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;’    I Corinthians 1:27   KJV

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Time For Healing at SIU

‘We can’t have a zero-sum game here,’ Dorsey said.  ‘To have one win and one lose is a disaster for this region, and I think we can do well at working with each other.’    J. Kevin Dorsey, Southern Illinois University’s interim president.

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‘Dorsey stepped down as dean of SIU School of Medicine in December 2015 after 14 years at the post.  A rheumatologist, Dorsey returned to the faculty to teach medical students and was currently employed by SIU.’

‘Dorsey was known during his tenure as dean for his calm demeanor, emphasis on compassion in medicine and interest in expanding the medical school’s influence on Sangamon County’s quality of life.’    State Journal Register

I have met Dr. Dorsey, on more than one occasion, and he is a gentleman.

Indeed, we desperately require a leader that will cause us to bring our best selves forward.

The bickering between our campuses must cease.

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We must realize that, ‘We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.’    G.K. Chesterton

IMG_0824 2.JPGWhen speaking of fomer Lesar Law School Dean, Hiram Lesar, ‘The first time, he did a nine-month between the administrations of Derge and Brandt, with the idea he would reassume his leadership role as law school dean once a permanent replacement was hired.’

‘During that period, he was credited with smoothing out controversy and ill will in the wake of 104 faculty firings, spurred by ‘financial exigency.’

‘The second time, then-67 year old Lesar – who faced mandatory retirement in 1980 – continued to oversee the law school and doubled as temporary chancellor while SIUC looked for a permanent replacement for Brandt, who resigned.’    SIU Southern Illinois University

I recall the healing affect that Dean Lesar had on the Carbondale campus.  He was a soft spoken gentleman who cared about people.

Both times that he was the interim president and chancellor…all SIU employees were invited to the Stone Center for a Christmas brunch.

Dean Lesar was such a calm and caring leader that he convinced my supervisor that he had confidence in him and cared about him…all the while he was inspiring him to perform his custodial duties.

He was a leader that you wanted to follow.

I think that interim president Dorsey…is much in the mold of former SIU leader, Hiram Lesar.  He is a soft spoken effective leader…that people are drawn to.

Our Board of Trustees have done an exemplary job in choosing Dr. Dorsey for this critical assignment.  He will perform his healing task in the sunlight of collaboration and camaraderie.

 

A great future is in front of Southern Illinois University…as we once again all pull together…from all our campuses…for the same purpose of academic and humanitarian excellence.

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‘The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red’

‘Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence who warned on Friday that the ‘warning lights are blinking red again,’ regarding cyber interference, defended the US intelligence community’s assessment about the 2016 election in a statement, Monday afternoon.’   CNN

 

‘Helsinki, Finland (CNN – US President Donald Trump, in a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community, declined on Monday to endorse the US government’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying he doesn’t ‘see any reason why’ Russia would be responsible.’    CNN

‘Instead, Trump –standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin–touted Putin’s vigorous denial and pivoted to complaining about the Democratic National Committee’s server and missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal account.’    CNN

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None of the United States 17 intelligence agencies have contended that Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, delegitimizes Trumps election to the presidency.

Yet, the president refuses the advice of his, chosen, intelligence leaders…who are republicans…all.’

‘Trump, finally asked whom he believes on Russia interference, give a vague and rambling non-answer, with renewed complaints about Hillary’s server.  Says he trusts US intel but made clear he takes Putin’s denials seriously.  Lame response to say the least.’    Brit Hume, Fox News

‘It’s not a right or left thing.  It’s just wrong.’  Cavuto said, adding that Trump failed to offer ‘even a mild criticism.’   Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto

‘Neil Cavuto of Fox Business calls Trump’s press conference ‘disgusting’, ‘That sets us back a lot.’

‘Ari Fleischer, a former aide in the George W. Bush administration and a Fox News contributor, said Trump’s acceptance of Putin’s denials give him a better understanding for why Democrats ‘think Putin must have the goods on him.’    CNN

Chastisement, was freely and vociferously given,  for all of our NATO allies on this diplomatic trip, by president Trump.

He singled out German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May for special insults and denigration.

President Trump referred to the European Union as our ‘foe’ prior to his Helsinki meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

President Trump, according to the United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, encouraged her to sue the European Union as a Brexit strategy.

Germany Chancellor, Angela Merkel, responded to president Trump’s criticism that Germany is controlled by Russia…saying she had grown up in East Germany and that she knew what it was to be controlled by Russia.

Where are the republican patriots?

 

Where are the republicans that will, stand up and say, that they support the FBI and the Justice Department…who are the backbone of our law enforcement at the federal level?

Where are the republican patriots that will say that Russia is our enemy and has been so for many years and that the president is wrong to embrace Putin and disparage and belittle and demonize…his own intelligence agencies in an attempt to apply a balm to his bruised and gigantic ego?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do we want and do we approve of the vilifying of our NATO allies…who have been our friends and the bulwark of freedom for over 70 years…in order to hold close and embrace and love a brutal murderous dictator….who’s goal is our destruction?

 

It is not about tax cuts or a conservative agenda or another Supreme Court nominee…it is about freedom or treason!

‘No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.’    Senator John McCain

‘The damage inflicted by president Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.  But is is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake,’  McCain said in a statement.  ‘President Trump proved  not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.  He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair question of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.’    Senator John  McCain

When and if our country ever falls to a tyrant and a dictator…there will be no questions as to your political affiliation…or if you were a Trump voter…but rather, history is clear, the rich and well to do financially will be the first to relinquish their possessions.

Academics and professors and teachers will be sought out for elimination.

 

Professionals, such as doctors and lawyers and business owners…will be pillaged and silenced and disappear.

Christian churches will be shuttered and their ministers silenced.

Freedom of religion will be what the tyrant and the dictator say that it is.

Freedom of speech will be…no more…and those engaging in it will either disappear or die mysteriously.

It, really, is not a republican or democrat problem…it is an american problem…it is a national security problem…Unknown-7

What does Vladimir know about Donald…that we do not?

 

 

 

 

 

A Slow Train Wreck

‘The president’s three-country European tour has been NATO’s worst nightmare, weakening the alliance and empowering Russia.  ‘This meeting confirmed that Trump barely knows the politics, if even the geography, of Europe,’ one foreign diplomat said, ‘Diplomacy has become a sadly hilarious affair with him.’    Vanity Fair

‘This was a very Trumpian summit.  I have been to every summit since 1999-never have I seen something like this….He turned this NATO summit into a reality-TV show, Damon Wilson, the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council who was in attendance, told me.  ‘He helped to sort of elevate and, to some degree, fabricate a sense of crisis.  He created a sense of friction between characters and used it to create a situation in which he could basically solve the problem, come in, and declare victory.’    Vanity Fair

President Trump accused our fellow NATO members of not paying their share…when in fact…. most of them are on schedule for their payments to the organization, that ends in a 2% commitment by each member nation by 2024.

He then declared that the new financial commitment for each NATO nation should be 4% of GDP…or in other words…he will never be happy or satisfied.

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A grand jury has returned indictments for 12 Russian intelligence officers in the Muller investigation.  These individuals were members of Russia’s intelligence department the GRU.  The investigation shows that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers began on the the same day the republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, called for Wikileaks to find Hillary Clinton’s lost emails.

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President Trump was briefed by Assistant Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein,  regrading the 12 GRU operatives who were about to be indicted before he left the United States for the NATO meeting and yet, while in England and after the indictments,…refereed to the Muller investigation as a witch hunt and proceeded with his plan to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday in a closed door meeting with no witnesses.

‘Reporter: Why are you so comfortable calling Kim Jong Un ‘very talented?’

‘President Trump: ‘Well, he is very talented.  Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough.’    CBS News

 

‘President Trump heaped praise on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, calling him ‘a very worthy negotiator,’ and vowing to meet with him ‘many times.’    The Hill

 

President Trump, after leaving the NATO meeting in tatters preceded to the United Kingdom and subsequently gave an interview to the Sun newspaper, a Rupert Murdoch publication, where he ruminated that the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had not taken his advice on how to negotiate Brexit and that he felt Boris Johnson, a rival of May’s, would be an excellent Prime Minister.

Ignoring many calls for the president to not proceed in his, private, summit, with Putin, Trump continues to curry the Russian President’s favor and refuses to say anything bad or critical regarding him.

All 17 of our intelligence agencies agree that Russia hacked our presidential election and that their purpose was to diminish Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency and enhance Donald Trumps possibilities of winning.

President Trump won by 70,000 votes in three key democratic states.

Facebook was a key target of the Russian hackers fake news about Clinton…designed to influence votes for Trump.

In less than four months we will have our mid-term elections…nothing has been done to secure the integrity of our election from the Russians.

Fox News correspondent, John Roberts, who was a correspondent, at one time for both CBS News and CNN responded to president Trump, when he called on him immediately after, once again, labeling, CNN as fake news and then telling MSNBC correspondent, Kristen Welker that MSNBC is probably worse than CNN in the fake news arena…that. ‘CNN and MSNBC  were not fake news.’

Mr. Roberts went on to say, later in an interview, that he was a friend of Ms. Welker and that he knew that she would never mis-represent the news and that he had been an employee of CNN and that they were not fake news.

It is, now, commonly believed that Russia worked to influence the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote.

I have known more than one person that trafficked in lies.  In fact, if you did not listen closely…it was extremely difficult to ascertain when they were lying and when they were telling the truth.

I have many acquaintances that are excellent at talking.  If you did not take the time to analytically examine what they were saying you would come away from being with them and sitting at their feet and feeling that you were in the presence of greatness!

‘We will bury you,’ said Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev while  addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow on November 18, 1956.’

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‘A lie told often enough becomes the truth.’    Vladimir Lenin

‘I am the wealthiest man, not just in Europe, but in the whole world.  I collect emotions.’    Vladimir Putin

After 9/11 our NATO allies rushed to our aid to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

Do we really want to go it alone….or rely on the tender mercies of Russian and North Korea?

 

 

 

‘When Trouble Comes Knocking At Your Door’

My new lawn mowing service mowed my grass, yesterday.  They came when they said that they would and they did what they said that they would do…and my lawn has never looked so good!

 

Green Living Yard Works is the name of the service and they replaced my former service, or lack thereof, and I was inspired by their beginnings with me.

So often we hear, in our great nation, that there are simply no jobs.  I would beg to disagree as there are many labor jobs…if you do not think yourself too good for the assignment.

Often, the best way to shake off and ward off trouble away from knocking at your door, is action.

 

I have known several people that worked at SIU during the evening hours and mowed lawns all day prior to coming to work.

Of late, our local McDonalds restaurants have more seniors working in them that ever before.  Many times the senior employees are the best!

 

One of the, short list Jurist, that was being considered for the Supreme Court had driven a cab…at one time.

When I was a youngster, it was common to see man and women make careers working in department stores and dime stores and factories.

The philosophy of starting out at the bottom or working your way up from the ground floor, was predominate in our culture…just a few short years ago.

Now, we attempt to plug everyone into a college education…but everyone does not fit this template or mold.

There is a spirit of entrepreneurship

in taking the low level job and proving yourself to be self motivated and reliable and a producer of an excellent work product whether you are the janitor or the CEO of the corporation.

A diligent worker who produces an excellent work product will not go unnoticed by a keen eyed manager or administrator.

Our nation was built by hardscrabble pioneers that worked from dawn to dusk and who did not know the meaning of sitting idle…

Our nation has many troubles knocking at our door…but one, stellar, solution of scaring trouble away is a ‘can do’ spirit that simply will not take no for an answer.

Regarding Mountains…Keep Climbing

The popular singer, James Taylor, told us that,  The secret of life is enjoying the passing of time.’

‘Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.’

‘Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.’

 

 

‘But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.’    Secret O’ Life

However, once we enjoy our ride down the mountain…it is time to climb another.

 

 

When I graduated high school I was ready to climb the mountain of work and career and university education…all at once.

Forty-three years later…as I slid down the mountain of work and career and sixteen hour days and often weekends and being a part of the physically and intellectually challenged being offered career opportunities…I planned on my next mountain to climb.

Although the parameters were more on my terms and clock…they were still ambitious.

We humans live for challenge.

Challenge is what gets us out of bed in the morning…and keeps us up late into the night.

Innate in our being is the inherent desire to improve our self…make our world a better place to live, and help others.

Scientist tell us that, not only our universe but all of the countless universes that we can observe through the Hubble and other powerful telescopes, are expanding.  The stars and the planets are all moving away from us.

As children of the universe…we are expanding, also.

It makes no difference what we have attained…we seek to do more.

My friend, Jeff, attained success before he was thirty years old.  He, absolutely, could be enjoying the ride down the hill of financial freedom and knowledge that he has helped countless people.

But, instead, he travels and speaks and ministers and mentors, all that seek his advice in the United Kingdom.

I read a newspaper article written by my old friend Glenn Poshard.  Glenn has been a several term United States Congressman and the Democratic Candidate for the Governor of Illinois and the President of Southern Illinois University.  Glenn and his wife Jo have a foundation that helps abused and neglected children.

The article, Glenn wrote, spoke of the original vision of our country and how we are straying from that vision.  Glenn is constantly seeking how he can help someone.

The retired Thai navy diver was willing to climb another mountain and he sacrificed his life as he was on a mission to provide the Thai soccer team, that was trapped since June 23 in cave in Thailand, air tanks…when he ran out of oxygen.

The remaining  divers did not say that the mission was too difficult when they saw their colleague give his life…they, courageously, rescued all twelve of the team and their coach.

Is there an insurmountable challenge in front of you…perhaps not…if you take it a day at a time.

Someone asked me how I possibly stood being an employee at SIU for over thirty-two years…and I responded…one day at a time.

Whether it is; weight loss or money management or the mission to write a book…it is better faced…one day at a time.

 

 

Many of  life’s challenges that seemed extreme to me, such as becoming a manager at SIU, slowly dissipated into nothing as I lived and worked the challenge…one day at a time.

Do you desire to be more healthy…walk a mile a day…slow…and see where it leads?

Life is a series of habits…we will either inculcate good habits or the bad ones will come…as we slide down the hill.

 

 

 

Adventure and Happiness and Challenge is SIUC

IMG_0892 3I have been experiencing the endless wonders that are Southern Illinois University, since I was 20 years old.

Prior to that I weekly rode the bus from Eldorado to Carbondale where church friends picked me up and took me to Elkville, Illinois, where I had been attending church since I was 12 years old.

Each week that I rode the bus, which was an adventure in its self, I ruminated and wondered where SIU was located in Carbondale…as I could not see it from the Train Depot where the bus deposited me.

Before my weekly bus rides, I was enthralled with the Theatre Department of SIU.  The student performers came to my grade school, in Eldorado, every year, and performed the most outstanding plays for our group.

I quickly understood that SIU was special and unlike anything that I had encountered in my little town’s surroundings.

IMG_0884As I sat watching and listening to the dialogue and often singing…I wanted to be in Theatre!

The SIU Theatre students were so friendly and inviting and talented…that it transported me to an oasis of success and opportunity and a vision of what could be my future.

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I loved SIUC before I knew her!

My life long buddy, Steve, and I often had breakfast in the cafeteria that was located in Woody Hall and our dear friend, Thelma, managed the facility.

Many years ago this was transformed into New Student Admissions.

I knew nothing of diversity or being inclusive or the beauty of the multitude of peoples of our Earth.  SIU taught me what it means to be a human being in a global society.

When I was a custodial crew leader…and one of my African students told me that the international students wanted to work for me…because I had no prejudice…I was humbled and honored and have never received  greater compliment.

IMG_0914Southern Illinois University taught me that I was not place bound but that I could be whatever that I wanted to be.

SIU illustrated to me that there was plenty of room for different religions and faiths and for those who are atheist and agnostic.

SIU demonstrated for me that there was a home for the conservative and the liberal and the moderate and that each had something important to say.

IMG_0931 2SIU showed me that we all are more alike than we are different and that we desire similar things, such as peace and the hope of prosperity and a safe place for our children to study and play and thrive and become…better than us.

I discovered that, although I worked in the housekeeping services, I could be respected and consulted and enjoy chancellors and a president…as my friends.

Well thought out opinions have value in the market place of ideas.

IMG_0934I drove my friend, Jack, to SIU, a year or so before I began working there.  He was applying for admission to the Accountancy department.  He was quickly accepted…but ultimately chose not to attend due to his mother’s objections to his leaving her home, in Eldorado, as she felt that she needed him to care for her.

I thought at the time that I would love to apply for admission to SIU…but it did not seem that it was in the cards for me…at that time.

SIUC had an extremely large Welcome sign at every entrance of the university.  The sign must be observed with the eye of your imagination.

Who do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Where do you want to travel on the road of life?

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has the answer for you…all you have to provide is the willing participant.

IMG_8252Southern taught me to realize that our world was much larger than I had been told by my family and ministers and, some of, my peers.

The university taught me that acceptance of others difference and the appreciation of the uniqueness of all humankind, was not a moral weakness…but a moral strength.

I found out that African Americans were wonderful friends.

I was honored by people from many countries…including me in their circle of friends.

I made many Gay friends and appreciated them for our shared humanity and discovered that we are all just people…leaning on each other and helping each other…on our path through this mysterious life.

During my 32 years and 3 months and 3 weeks at SIU, I have never been a part of a community that so loved its’ student population.

Building Services staff, daily and nightly, brought food for their student colleagues.  They invited them to dinner at their homes during the holidays.  They inquired about their classes and their exams and encouraged their students that they could do it!

I sat in a history course that had about three hundred students in it and it was taught by my friend and former chancellor, Jo Ann Argersinger.  Jo Ann learned all of the students names and referred to them by name when they asked her a question.

The picturesque beauty of SIUC is unparalleled and is a compelling drawing card for students across the state of Illinois and the nation and the world.

One of our foreman, Gerald Davis, began a Thanksgiving Dinner for our Building Service students, of which there were over 200, in the latter 1980s’.  This was one of the most anticipated events in our annual calendar.  Students and staff and chancellors and vice chancellors and presidents attended…and the love that was in the room was tremendous.

SIUC will offer you an educational experience that is unique and unprecedented and that will stay with you for your entire life!

Family Values

A Brooks Tale

 

It was another sunny day at the compound.  Life was regular and orderly and complete…as long as you did what you were told.

Tom woke up early, at 4:40 A:M:, as was his custom.  He had to be at the restaurant by 5:30 to oversee the preparing of breakfast and the establishment of readiness for the first customers of the day.

Theresa was sleeping soundly.  She had been up late last night figuring the accounts of her many enterprises that she owned.

Theresa was rich.  Her mother had always told her that one day she would be very wealthy…and she was.  Her grandfather had made a fortune in stocks and had died, suddenly, of heart failure.

Tom came from a poor family, and he knew it…if he ever forgot…he was reminded by his surroundings and the vacant stares of his brothers and sisters.

Now, Tom tried to help his family, as much as he could, without drawing the wrath of the family matriarch, Abby, who had inherited the fortune that her husband had acquired and had subsequently guarded it with her life.

Tom learned quickly, much as his father-in-law, Rafe, had learned, many years prior, that men did not count for much in the compound.

In fact, it was a matriarchal society

Theresa and her mother Molly and her maternal grandmother, Abby, were the law west of the Pecos.

Men were good for labor and love and making a living…if you could, successfully, point them in the right direction.

They were good for little else…other than humor.

Abby and Molly and now Theresa were the leaders of the compound and the decision makers.

They fashioned their society on the Navajo Indians Matriarchal society.

They were allowed to hunt and fish and enjoy, typical male pastimes and hobbies, but their ideas regarding future outreaches into the compound’s fortune and business ventures…were accepted with benevolent amusement.

When Rafe lost Molly to a sudden and untimely death…he was lost.  He simply did not know what to do.  Molly had given him his daily instructions for fifty years and he followed them dutifully.  He enjoyed the perks of, what he considered their wealth, and subsequently enjoyed traveling to their apartments and condos and hotels that they owned.  He loved motorized transportation and proceeded to buy several automobiles and motorcycles and campers of all sizes and shapes.

Polly, the daughter of Tom and Theresa, saw the dichotomy between her brother Michale and herself.  Grandma Abby had always favored her and not Michale.  She loved Polly and she liked and tolerated Michael.  Grandma consistently told Polly that she loved her and wished that she would never leave her while she smiled and told Michael that she knew that he had to be going and thanks for visiting.

The pressure of being a, friend and almost like family, often wore thin with Tom and Rafe and they discussed their place in the bubble society that was the compound.

They primarily did not like the fact that they had to be in by dark.  Also, the restriction, that Theresa had placed on all of the members of the compound, that they could not leave the property from sun down on Friday evening until sun down on Saturday evening…or the sabbath.

Rafe had things that he enjoyed doing in the evening hours, that were located away from home, and he certainly wanted to be gone on Saturdays.

Rafe enjoyed traveling to the Caribbean and Europe and across the United States…and he did not appreciate that Theresa’s infatuation with minister Pat and his strange beliefs…was going to stop that delightful activity from occurring.

Minister Pat weighed about 400 lb.. and Theresa loved him!

Minster Pat was a follower of the World Wide Church of God and its’ founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.

To say that Tom and Rafe were held on a short leash…would be an understatement.

They had to report in to Theresa at the beginning of the day, at 8:00 A:M: and at the conclusion of the day at 4:00 P:M:.

The report was divided into fifteen minute intervals where lined space was provided to explain what they had been doing for each interval.

This included bathing and toiletry.

On one occasion, Tom had written down the he had been having intercourse with one of he sheep in the north pasture…and there had been no questions asked.

On another occasion Rafe had written that he had attempted to hang himself from the barn rafters…but that the rope had broken.

There were no questions asked or answered.

One day, when Tom and Rafe were hunting deer on the property, they decided that it was time to rebel.

They were going to make a break for it!

They were going to leave the compound after dark.

They were going to prove that they were men and not mice!

At 9:00 P:M: they made their move.

They opened the gate to the fence and drove their BMW through the opening of the gate.

Suddenly it began to snow.

It was July and the heat index was 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Something was truly askew with their world…and mother said to Polly…now, Polly, you must stop playing with the snow globe that your father got for you today…even though it is Christmas.

And, Polly, reluctantly sat the globe down…with Theresa and Rafe and Tom…and thought that she would have great fun with her snow globe diorama….tomorrow…as there was no school until the new year!

 

 

A Sense of Place

We all identify with a geographic location.

‘Geographic places.  Cultural geographers, anthropologist, sociologists and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or animals.  Places said to have a strong ‘sense of place’ have a strong identity that is deeply felt by inhabitants and visitors.’    Wikipedia

‘Topophilia (From Greek typos ‘place’ and philia, ‘love of) is a strong sense of place which often becomes mixed with sense of cultural identity among certain people and a love of certain aspects of such a place.’    Wikipedia

‘Topophilia also has a darker side, serving as a motive force behind nationalism and social exclusion, and even extending sometimes to the nazist celebration of Blood and Soil.’    Wikipedia

I have felt a sense of place on numerous occasions in my life.

The first would probably be in Sauk Village, a Chicago suburb, where my mom and dad and I lived on a tree lined street on which I had numerous friends.  We had, an apparently free and worry free life…for awhile, and our home and the street that we lived on reminded me of the former, popular television show, Leave It To Beaver.

Another, long standing geographic location, of which I have a particular affinity is Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  So many great occurrence in my life happened as a direct result of my affiliation with SIUC…my second home for the past forty years.

 

 

I feel a real sense of place in our Carbondale home of the past seventeen years.  The scenic and peaceful atmosphere is an elixir to my, ever aging eyes and ears and senses.

Strangely enough I have felt a significant sense of place in three European cities that we have visited and one region.

Paris captivated my imagination!  The rhythms of the city…the friendly and courteous people that I met…the beautiful french language and the culture and history and ambiance of the city of lights.

When we visited Oxford, England…I felt like that I had been there before.  As we enjoyed a tour of the university’s library…the strangest thought was very real to me…that I had studied there.  Perhaps it was the power of suggestion as I enjoyed hearing my history professor friends, the Argersinger’s, speak of lecturing at Oxford and their subsequent gift to us of a pastel painting of the school…or perhaps I was there before.

Edinburgh, Scotland was magical and magnetic.  We visited the city in 2016 and I believe that I could live there as I enjoyed it so much.  We were there in August when the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was being performed and the Fringe Artistic Festival.  Edinburgh was a sensory overload…but a good one.

I met the kindest gentleman, who was in a wheelchair, the first evening that we were there and he asked if I would assist him in standing to facilitate his placing his order for food in the cafeteria style restaurant that we were in.  His genuine warmth and good humor was all that it took for me to begin bonding with Edinburgh.

My most memorable time in Edinburgh was the Ghost Tour that we took one evening.  We toured both above ground and underground and heard stories that were unbelievable…but true.

 

 

Our time with our good friends, Margo and Jeff, in Tuscany…is etched, indelibly, on my memory.

First we had to drive a, less than one lane path, up a steep and extremely winding mountain…that required a hard ninety degree turn on more than one occasion in both the ascent and descent.

Our hosts lived in a farm house that had been erected in both the twelfth century and the sixteenth century.

The first evening of our visit we were invited by our hosts to attend a local festival in the Italian town, at the foot of the mountain that we were staying on, of Montecatini.

What a feeling of ‘Place’ as I sat at one end of an outdoor table and our hosts at the other and the gentleman and I saluted each other with wide smiles on our faces…and we understood each other…without language.

And, so, today, refugees come to our shores and our geographic boundaries and they come out of fear for their lives and persecution from gangs and drug lords and they come at the, tender mercy, of those who use them and rape them and charge them exorbitant sums to bring them to our country…the land that inscribes on the Statue of Liberty, ‘…With silent lips.  Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’   The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

They come to find home…they come to find place….

They come…as the Jews fled Europe during the Second World War…and as they fled Egypt….

They come to find a new home that is safe and secure…because their home…their place…has been torn asunder.

They come…as the people on the Mayflower…looking for a home and place and freedom from tyranny.

I sincerely believe that the day is coming that it will be the citizens of the United States that will be searching for succor and hope and refuge from the storm…

Will we be greeted with open arms…or a cage?

 

 

 

 

Looking For Home

Mary Jane and I were talking about Fourth of July’s in our past.

We both commiserated that we seldom had firecrackers as they were illegal in Illinois for as long as we can recall.

We both liked the meager substitutes of ‘snakes’ or ‘sparklers’ and were more than a little excited when one of our friends had, illegal and dangerous, firecrackers…not to mention…M80’s.

At my home we sought to find the spot…from our house…where we could see the Eldorado fireworks at the Starlight Drive Inn.  We quickly discovered that we had to go to Grandma Askew’s…where you could see them…pretty good.

At one of these 4th gatherings, my aunt Guelda’s friend from Holland, Yoop, gave me a simply delicious piece of chocolate that was made in Holland and it was fashioned in the shape of a wooden shoe.

I would like to have another piece of the exotic coco…up until and including…this very day!

My stepfather, Earl, enjoyed a Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, but I never observed him drink one until the time that he was helping us remodel our rest room in our little four room house in Elkville, Illinois and he subsequently became so frustrated that he began hitting the floor, in extreme anger, and exclaimed that, ‘he was not going to be able to complete the job…as he was just getting too old!’  Mary Jane went to DuQuoin to purchase some beer for Earl…but he refused to drink any with us.

The next time that we visited Earl and Mom’s home in Eldorado…we observed that he had a plentiful stock of Pabst, in the bottle,  on hand…and he did so thereafter for the rest of his life.