Monthly Archives: November, 2016

It’s Christmas Again

img_5194This past Friday, Black Friday, we made are customary journey to St. Charles, Missouri to enjoy the Christmas festivities of this historic Missouri Town.

St. Charles is not only decorated with the finest and most ornate holiday regalia but it also features Santa’s from around the world and Charles Dickens Characters right out of his Christmas Classic, ‘A Christmas Carol.’


img_5024Shortly after we arrived we visited Fraser Leonard’s Fine Art Gallery.  Mary Jane saw a Copper Winter Tree that she admired and I noticed the ‘Trump Tie’.  Then it was on to lunch at Bradenton’s Cafe.  They have the most wonderful Reuben sandwich.  Usually I  partake of the Grand Mariner as the bartender gives generous proportions of the orange flavored delicacy…and it is a holiday tradition.  However our server explained to us that there was a draft beer made by the Schmaltz Brewing Company called Jubilation.  Our waiter warned us that Jubilation contained 17% alcohol.  A better beer I have not had!

As we enjoyed our Reuben sandwiches and luxuriated in the Jubilation…we decided that we must return to look at the Copper Winter Tree.

Upon our return to Fraser Leonard’s Gallery…I suddenly noticed the profound message that the ‘Trump Tie’ spoke to me.  I have been fascinated by the Presidential Candidacy and now the President Elect Trump’s success in the overwhelming belief that he would fail.

The ‘Trump Tie’ is an over three feet long steel tie that is painted fire engine red.  It is a ‘power tie.’


I had one of the most enjoyable discussions with some of my beloved family members over Thanksgiving.  They voted for President Elect Trump…I did not.  However, many of the issues they brought up…I agreed with.  They hope of a better economy for the middle class…so do I.  They hope for an insurance program that will serve all Americans…so do I.

Does the ‘Trump Tie’ signify the fears that I have had of the hurtful rhetoric that Candidate Trump regularly uttered on the Campaign Trail…or does it signify positive change?  I have a definite opinion…read my Blog…but I hope for positive change.


img_5150img_5146img_5134IMG_5115.JPGimg_5046img_5080img_5084‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’   Luke 2:14  KJV

IMG_5158.JPGimg_5101img_4958img_5092img_5105As Tiny Tim said in A Christmas Carol, ‘God Bless us Every One!’

Unease…Disquiet…Concern… and Thanksgiving

I have always been fascinated by former President John Kennedy.  He is the first President that I remember.  I recall how frightened my Mother and Father were during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962.  I heard my parents talking about the possibility of ‘the bombs’ and the fact that we did not have a ‘bomb shelter.’

Tomorrow, November 22, 2016, will mark fifty-three years since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas…shortly after noon.  I was six years old and in first grade…and Mrs. Kittinger announced to our class that President Kennedy had been shot.  School ended for the day and I walked home to the big…cold…scary house that we had moved to in Eldorado, Illinois.

My Mom was weeping.  When I asked her why she told me that President Kennedy had died.  I was amazed that my mother was so emotionally moved by the President of the United States death…I wondered if we were related to him.

For much of the rest of my childhood our Country was filled with unease.  I watched Walter Cronkite announce each evening on the CBS Evening News the American fatalities for that day.  My cousin was drafted.  I was sure that when I became of age…that I would be drafted and sent to Vietnam as well.

In school we had ‘bomb drills’  where we either crawled under our desk or when we became larger we exited into the hallway and knelt against the wall and covered our heads with our hands.

Today, there is a significant amount of disquiet in our land.  Americans from many different walks of life fear that our beloved country will no longer fulfill the wonderful poem written by Emma Lazarus in ‘1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty,’ wikipedia.

The Poem is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty Pedestal and reads in part, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of you’re teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

Thanksgiving is a time of thankfulness and renewal and re-energizing.




It is a time to realize our many blessings…and to think about those in need…and to resolve to help lessen the suffering of our fellow human beings.

Let us all realize that the success of our Great Country has never been about a President…no matter how charismatic he might be…but it has been about our inclusiveness and working and struggling together…much as our wonderful troops did in World War II.

The secret of the United States Success is the acceptance and transformation of ‘the huddled masses yearning to breath free…the wretched refuse…the homeless and the tempest-tost!’

statue of liberty construction

If;  Bigotry…Xenophobia…Misogyny…Respect for the Disabled…’Standing Rock’ and the horrible manner our government treats our Native Americans…has given us concern…it is up to us to do your part to make it better.  No political leader will ever solve those Herculean problems for us.

As President Kennedy admonished us at his Inauguration… so many years ago…’My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country.’

The Quakers say, ‘Speak Truth to Power.’

Party of One or Two

Please enjoy a great Jonathon Brooks’ Blog.


Why do people study the science of selling theirselves short? So many of us fall for the lie that we don’t quite measure up or that we aren’t enough. Enough what? We aren’t smart enough or good looking enough or tough enough or worthy enough. Why don’t we just get over ourselves already! Maybe someone else thinks you are remarkably smart or very good looking or so tough or absolutely and completely worthy of receiving all of the good on God’s green earth.

Humility isn’t tearing ourselves or others down. It isn’t sitting around and saying, “I’m a loser and so are you so let’s drink this twenty-four pack of cheap beer and say to hell with tomorrow.” Humility is thinking about yourself less, or even forgetting about yourself, to be focused on others. Humility is making this world a better place by building others up instead of tearing them…

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How Candidate Trump became President Elect Trump

Facebook reminded me that a year ago today I had written a blog that was critical of Republican Presidential Candidate Trump’s bigoted rhetoric, including his promise to build a wall.

Now half or more of our Country is shocked that he is the President Elect.  I am not.

I began my career at Southern Illinois University as a Building Service Worker I…which is a janitor.  I was assigned to the General Accounting building.  As a young man of twenty years old I felt that all the people who occupied the office that I was cleaning had important jobs that they had obtained through their higher education.

My predecessor in custodial had done an abysmal job.  I began by striving to produce a clean General Accounting building each night.

I asked the Associate Director of General Accounting, about two weeks into my tenure, if he was satisfied with my job performance, and explained that I understood that my work was not nearly as important as the rest of the building’s staff.  Associate Director Blaney told me that my work was as valuable as the work that he performed…or maybe more so and told me that without my preparing the cleanliness of the building each night the accountants coming in the next morning would not be able to perform their job duties effectively.

After many years of working within the Building Services department and rising through the ranks, I determined that I wanted to have more of a Global understanding of the University that had been so good to me.

The University was a microcosm of our Country.  There were definite classes…of which I was a member of the lowest…the Civil Service Employees.

Through my work associated with the Civil Service Council, which is the elected representative body for employee concerns and ideas for the University Administration, I became acquainted with University leaders; including Chancellors and Presidents.

It became abundantly clear to me that most of the Administration had little or no knowledge of the real concerns in the Civil Service Community.  It also became certain to me that when I was speaking with them and they were smiling and shaking their head in mock affirmation to my words…they were giving me the political correct body language for my ‘small…pedestrian requests.’

One Chancellor told me unequivocally that Faculty came first and then Administrative Professional Staff and finally…if there was anything left…Civil Service Staff.

I met and befriended two ‘breaths of fresh air’ in the Chancellor role during my thirty-two years of service.  Both of these individuals spoke to me with respect…they really listened…and moved affirmatively on some of my requests.  Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger and Dr.Don Beggs sought my counsel…and on University Wide issues.

Believe me when a leader listens to you and respects you and seeks your counsel…you become loyal to that leader.

It is disingenuous and wrong to equivocate the supporters of President Elect Trump as all bigots and misogynist and haters of those who are not like them.

As the adroit Dan Rather put it on a news program this morning, often the States in the middle of the East coast and the West coast are considered ‘fly over’ in political importance to the Presidential Candidates.

So, it is noted that Businessman Trump customarily walked the construction site of his buildings and stopped to talk with the workers and sought their ideas and valued their counsel…and showed them the respect of their knowledge of their craft.

President Elect Trump made that same connection with millions of hard working…intelligent…and exhausted people…who are often working two or three jobs to put something on the table and pay their bills.

I began my career as someone who was thought of as a ‘job description’ and not a person.  I set about and actively sought to understand the Academic Community and to break through the ‘wall of academic elite’ to benefit my group.

It is vital that all people of good will seek to not hate and define each other by a simplistic group name…but rather with the respect of their intelligence…their humanity…and our shared struggle for fairness and equality of human rights.




Words Matter

Last night there were massive protests in many of our major cities regarding the election of Donald Trump.  When interviewed, many of the protestors expressed their fear that members of their family were going to be deported…that a target was now on their back because of their religion…that the ‘stop and frisk’ policing policy embraced by the Candidate Trump would be brought back…that there is a diminishing of  the horribleness of sexual assault…and that the personal freedoms won by the Gay and Lesbian Community would be under attack.

Last night I watched an impassioned response, to Trump supporter Andy Dean complaining about CNN Commentator Van Jones.  Mr. Jones was talking about Trump’s electoral victory being a ‘white lash’ as opposed to being a backlash. The response came from respected New York Times Columnist, Charles Blow, appearing on CNN.  “I don’t know what walk of life you have to be in to think that race is a media fascination…I happen to live in this skin, been doing it for forty-six years and I’ll tell you something, this has nothing to do with the media, my job, any of that.  It has everything to do with the fact that I know my history…”

I have worked closely with two mercurial leaders. One was in a faith community and the other was in a work environment.   Both men had the capacity for great kindness…and great retaliation… and mean spiritedness when they perceived that they had been crossed.  Both could be influenced by good advice that leaned toward mercy and understanding of others.  Both ultimately stayed true to their darker paranoia.  My combined time with these two leaders was twenty-nine years.

This election is unprecedented.  The American people have elected a person who said, on a regular basis during his campaign the most… bigoted…misogynistic…xenophobic utterances ever heard by a Republican or Democratic candidate for the presidency.

Now that President Elect Trump has secured the highest office in the land it is incumbent on him to quiet the fears of the many groups that he maligned during his candidacy.  We are in to the second day of the President Elect…and so far his actions have been magnanimous and Presidential.  I was heartened at his gracious words for President Obama when they just concluded their White House meeting.

Mr. President Elect…calm the fears of millions of Americans…reach out to them and show them that you care about their welfare…assure us that we are not in the ‘Twilight Zone.’

IMG_0210 7

The Result

After the most acrimonious presidential campaign in my lifetime Donald Trump is the President Elect of the United States.  This result was something that the political pundits and pollsters almost universally did not forecast.

Mary Jane and I had dinner, the other evening, with a couple who are dear friends of ours.  I stated that irrespective of what the polls were showing… Donald Trump could win.  I was going to go on to say that he could win, and that he may win handily.  I did not make the final statement as my friend, who I deeply respect, told me that there was no way Trump would experience a persuading win due to the democratic Blue Wall.

I have believed since the President Elect first appeared on the political scene…riding down the escalator at Trump Tower…to announce his candidacy for the presidency…that he indeed could win!

Millions of people in the United States are hurting.  They are out of work or underemployed.  The Affordable Care Act has been a godsend to many poor people and a nightmare to much of the middle class.

Many feel that their elected representatives do not listen to them…with good reason…because they do not.

The CNN political commentator, Van Jones, gave a beautiful and frightening description of the fear and trepidation that is now in the hearts of African Americans, Latinos, Women, Muslims and the disabled…the fear of a Bully with power!

The Tableau beginning today,…will be painted of a Trump presidency.  Mr. President Elect…bring us together…don’t divide us by our fears…our bias…ask us to be our better selves…

Our country is a melting pot.  What has made us great is our inclusiveness.  Now we are praying for our elected leader.  We want our President Elect to succeed.  We want him to listen to us…African Americans…Muslims…Latinos…Women…the Disabled…American Indians…it will take all of us to…as it always has… make American Great Again!

Mr. President Elect…you can choose to listen to the haters…the prejudiced…the xenophobic…the misogynist… because their voices were loud during the campaign.  Or, you can seek greatness by hearing the voice of the downtrodden.  Their voices are not as loud at times…but…to hear them…is the mark of a great leader.


The Choice

During the Children’s Message this morning, at church, Kathy Manfredi gave a lovely account of what friends, who disagree on the up-coming election, will be doing on Wednesday, November 9.  She had seen two women on television who mentioned that they disagree on the political candidates…but that on the day after the election they planned to make a pot of soup together…because that is what friends do.

It appears that this presidential election cycle has been more mean and full of the most hateful damaging accusations that I have witnessed in my fifty-nine years.

If anything has been clearly illustrated during this malignant process, it is that the divisions in our country are deeper and more sharply delineated than ever before.

To equivocate politics with religion and God’s will for humanity is a fools’ errand.

Democrats are not especially enlightened or wiser than the Republican members of the human family.  Their’s can be a liberal snootiness or, ‘ nose in the air,’ attitude toward conservatives that borders on the obscene.

Republicans do not have a special relationship with the Creator because they love, ‘ the right to bear arms,’ or believe that every word of the King James Bible means literally and exactly what it says.

Basically the question is, what kind of country do we want to live in?  Do we want to live in a United States that disrespects women?

Do we want to live in a country that disrespects African Americans and tells them that they have thus far, ‘lived in hell?’

Much of our country is Latino.  Do we want to live in a country that describes them as; rapist and murders?

Is it all right to make fun of the disabled?

Is bragging about the ability to perform sexual assault on women something that we want to chalk up to locker room talk?

The email debacle surrounding the Democratic Candidate for President is sad.  It was sloppy according to the Director of the FBI…but not criminal.

The following is from the Washington Post’s account of Air Force Col. Tom Moe speaking at an event in Ohio.  This is a paraphrase of a quote from Protestant pastor, Martin Niemoller taken from lectures that he gave after World War II.  “You might not care if Muslims should register with their government, because you’re not one.  And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants because you’re not one.  And you might not care if Donald Trump says it’s okay to rough up black protestors, because you’re not one.  And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one.  But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you.  And you better hope there’s someone left to help you.”

My friends are probably fifty percent liberal and fifty percent conservative.  I have some convictions on both sides.  I am however…afraid…very afraid…of a Strongman government.

Wednesday morning…Soups On!