Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Brown Shirts

According to the SHOAH Resource Center the following definition of  the,”(Sturmabteilung, Storm Troopers), also know as ‘Brown Shirts’ the Nazi Party militia that helped Adolf Hitler rise to power in Germany.”

Wikipedia says that, “The [‘Storm Detachment’] functioned as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.  Their primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies…”

According to Catlin Cruz of TPM, “Racist and bigoted language has become common place at the rallies, both from Trump supporters and the candidate himself.   But so has violence and degradation against protestors who dare to disagree with the GOP’s heir apparent.  The toxicity seemed to peak Monday night in Las Vegas, where Trump supporters reportedly yelled a Nazi salute and called for a protestor to be set on fire.”

“November 21: Birmingham, Alabama – A Black Lives matter protestor was kicked and pushed as he was forcibly removed from a Trump rally in Birmingham: Trump yelled from the stage ‘Get him the hell out of here.'”

“November 18: Worcester, Massachusetts – Trump mocked a protestor who he considered ‘seriously overweight’ as the protestor was expelled from the rally.  ‘You know it’s amazing, I mentioned food stamps, and that guy who’s seriously overweight went crazy — amazing. Amazing.’  Trump said to cheers.  ‘That’s an amazing sight’.”

When asked if he disavowed the support of David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Donald Trump said that he did not know who Mr. Duke was and would have to do some research before deciding whether or not to accept his support.  However Mr. Trump is on record as indeed knowing who Mr Duke is.

It is yet to be determined whether  Donald Trump truly believes the hate speech that he utters and supports or if it is a political act designed to get him the maximum votes possible from  his supporters.  The more frightening question is the measure of the discontent and social unrest that is manifesting as a strong component of our society.

For many political cycles both primary political parties have been more concerned with pandering to their supporters often narrow political interests in order to get elected.  Once elected big business, Wall Street, lobbyist…money…has controlled the political agenda of the majority of the hacks and sycophants that hold the austere seats of what was once occupied by statesmen.

Now the potentially dangerous situation has arisen where people who have been ignored and forgotten for generations have found a spokesman who speaks to their fears and prejudices.

Rome at one time ruled the world.  Germany’s industrious people blindly followed a charismatic leader who promised a return to greatness and prosperity if they would give him the power to make the hard decisions.

Isn’t it all right to have surveillance of your home and phone and to sacrifice privacy to be safe from terrorism?  Then, is it not needed to accept the misogyny…xenophobia…hate speech and ridicule of anyone who disagrees with the anointed leader who will return us to greatness?






The Universal Language

A great Jonathon Brooks blog!


Kindness is a universal language. Just think of the smile. It’s opposed to the frown and easier to do for the happy soul. If the smile is shared with another they might smile as well. Joy is contagious and this world needs more of it. I’ve been told before that I have an infectious laugh. I was also once told I have an infectious smile. What a compliment! I’ve carried it with me ever since.

The pessimist chooses to see the bad in the world. He sees the good as an illusion. I know this because I traveled this path in a life I used to live. As a teenager I didn’t understand goodness the way I understand it as a man. Goodness is authentic and itself. Evil, misery, melancholy and pain are goodness gone rotten. And being kind is a part of being good.

If you’ve got a good…

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According to Meriam Webster dictionary the definition of Xenophobia is, ” Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.”

The more that I have been privileged to meet and talk with people who are different from me the more enriched I become.  I wrote in my last post regarding our eternal search for peace and the shortcomings of narrow religious dogma’s role in preventing us in obtaining our goal.  On the other hand faith can aid us tremendously in finding our elusive peace.

The Bible quotes Jesus, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so must you love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  (NIV)

When I became a christian the captivating draw for me was the love and concern that fellow christians showed for me.  My life experience has illustrated time after time that we members of the human family are all seeking meaning in our lives.  Nothing says that you care for a person that comes from a different faith than yourself or a different ethnicity than your genuine desire to learn about them and your interest in their well being.  We all hunger for respect and worth.

The famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “I really do not care how much you know until I know how much your care, about me.”

I traveled with Professor friend of mine who was of the Hindu faith.  What a wonderfully compassionate and sweet gentleman!  I drove him all over Springfield, Illinois in the mission of finding a restaurant where he could be served a vegetarian dinner.

During Mary Jane and my travels to several European countries the concrete fact that always emerges is that people are consistently helpful and kind whatever language, culture, or religion that they are part of.

We visited Tunis, Tunisia soon after the Arab Spring.  One of the kindest tour guides that we have ever met led us through the city.  This man wept when he spoke of his love and appreciation for the United States!

I had the privilege of working with an African American colleague on my leadership staff for several years when I was at Southern Illinois University.  She was one of the wisest women that I have ever known!  She told me once that she thought that I had come from another planet because she had not worked with someone who she could not detect prejudice in.  I was honored and humbled by her sincere comment.

Harsh words that are full of hate…misogyny…xenophobia…speech that marginalizes is frightening and it matters.  Words matter!  Political candidates that cavalierly say destructive comments to the cheers of thousands…is chilling!

We must listen to the easy promises of people who “on the face” seem to have very quick full-proof answers.  We must ask how are they going to accomplish the trite self assured answer they give to solve desperate complex problems?

Have you ever been marginalized?  Have your ever been the person who was left out?  Have your ever been on the outside looking in?  Remember that feeling the next time you see the homeless, the handicapped, the foreigner who has been chased from their home by violence…fear…genocide.

This Sunday morning as we go to our individual churches to worship Christ with our friends and neighbors…speak to the lonely new person who is setting in the back of the sanctuary… who does not have the best clothes…who needs a shave and a haircut…who is quietly watching the religious program…speak to Jesus.





How can something that is universally desired be so hard to obtain?  The other night I was listening to a Presidential candidate explain his record of standing up for religious freedom.  He went on to explain that if he were elected President how he would be a staunch defender of religious rights and liberty.  I could not help but wonder if he was referring to religious freedom as defined though the narrow prism of his reported evangelical christian faith.

Hitler sent six million Jews to the gas chamber during World War II because of their Jewish faith and ethnicity.

Many of the prominent christian denominations in the United States were “just fine” with segregation and until this day are minimally integrated with African Americans and Caucasians.

The Islamic faith is one of the largest and oldest in the world and dates back to the same middle eastern beginnings as the christian faith.  If peace were not the primary tenant of this faith…certainly the truth would have been revealed a long time ago.

The atheist and the agnostic are often some of the nicest and most caring people you encounter.

To have a genuine authentic concern for the welfare of our fellow human beings…there must of necessity be a primary concern for human freedom…which translates into religious freedom…or peace.




Over the past five years I have adjusted to the reality and beauty of simplicity.  Having retired from a job that I was on call 24/7 and that was at least moderately stressful each day, it has been a process to slow down and smell the roses.

When I was involved with my career I immersed myself in all aspects of it.  From personally visually inspecting the over one hundred academic buildings that I was responsible for to becoming involved with any committees and groups that I believed could aid my department as well as my great love…the University.

More often than not my thoughts were filled with work even when I was away from it.  This can become a compelling and beguiling siren song…and a good excuse to not be involved with the many other facets of life that are so enriching and rewarding.

Since my retirement I have endeavored to focus on the simplicity and beauty of living.  Often when former colleagues ask me what I am doing now that I am retired…when I respond that I am enjoying life…they look somewhat perplexed.

But, isn’t there more than devoting all of your time to career and it’s fools gold?  It goes without saying that I worked thirty-two years, two months and three weeks at a job that I loved from a compelling necessity to make a living.  However in this short life we are given isn’t there more to be sought and experience than another work challenge?

Robin Williams portraying english teacher John Keating in the movie Dead Poet’s Society said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute.  We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.  And the human race is filled with passion.  And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.  But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.  To quote Whitman, “O me!  O life!…IMG_0643of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless…of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer.  That you are here-that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.  That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse.  What will your verse be?”