Monthly Archives: September, 2017

More Time Than Money

‘A Brooks Tale’

 

 

It was a cold afternoon and it felt more like winter…than the day before Thanksgiving.

Dennis and I decided, on what is always a relatively slow day on Campus, to find something useful to do.

We decided to take some large, 55 gallon waste receptacles, over to the the Health Service custodial area and our buddy, Gerald, said that he would come with us and help us.

The temperature was in the 20’s and the wind was howling.

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‘How many will we need, Mr. Brooks,’ asked Gerald?

‘Let’s take four,’ I responded.

When we got outside, Dennis uttered his annual cold weather remark, ‘It is colder than the balls on a Brass Monkey.’

I grabbed one of the large containers and Dennis hoisted one as well.

Gerald, took two…and they were almost as big as he was.

Dennis and I were laughing and talking about the upcoming holidays and Ray and the cold.

I remarked, ‘where is Gerald?’

‘He is a block behind us…and he is doubled over…as if he is in pain,’ responded Dennis.

We quickly walked back to Gerald and he told us that he had a terrible pain in his chest.  When we told him that we would take him to the emergency room…he declined and said that it was somewhat better.

For the remainder of the day…Gerald periodically rubbed his chest and hunched over in his chair…but when asked how he was doing…he said that he would be alright.

I pondered my friends illness and thought that he was young for heart issues…he was 39 years old.

At the time…I was 29.

Gerald had a heart attack over the Thanksgiving holiday.

 

Each, last, day of the University’s  work year, as we received a generous week or more vacation surrounding Christmas and New Years, I reflected on what had happened in my career over the past year.

At times, I was very pleased with what we had been able to accomplish as a department.

The commendation letters that we had received…the special events that we had been able to prepare for and exhibit an excellent appearance…that exemplified the first class education that students received at SIU…and the people that we had been able to help…and offer opportunity to.

At the conclusion of other years…I was happy that it was over…it had been stressful and difficult…and I knew that I had plenty more coming.

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When, Astrid, telephoned me and announced that she and others had placed my name in the running for person of the year for the Illinois Rehabilitation Association…I was so very humbled.

She mentioned that if I was selected for the award that my name would be included in the contention for the National Rehabilitation Award given by the National Rehabilitation Association.  I was speechless.

It seemed to me that the inclusion of persons with disabilities into our organization…was not only the normal and right thing to do…but that it was a supreme honor to have them working with us and to be our colleagues.

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My friend, the Chancellor was terminated short of her first year…in the office.

She had confidence in me and my abilities…that I could not understand.

She wanted to advance me in the organization…although I neither sought advancement nor desired it.

After her termination…she spoke…for years of wanting Mary Jane and I to follow her…when she became a chancellor at another University.

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I told Gerald, one day long after his heart attack, that I had enjoyed a dinner at Mary’s Restaurant in Herrin, Illinois, that cost several hundred dollars.

Gerald responded that he had never paid that much money for dinner.

I said, ‘that I had more time than money.’

Gerald, admonished me, ‘do not say that Mr. Brooks…you don’t know that.’

Now, I am about to turn 60 years old.

Was that a dream…or is this?

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Untapped Potential

Last evening, my former colleague and friend, Brad, shared with me an article regarding the new chancellor of The University of Missouri, Alexander Cartwright.

Brad, knew that I would have an appreciation for the fact that chancellor Cartwright had, at one time, worked as a custodian.

‘After growing up in the Bahamas, Cartwright’s first job in the United States was cleaning farm buildings and working second shifts as a factory custodian to afford community college.’   The Columbia Missourian

Brad, has heard me say…and write…many times, that there is untapped and often unsought… potential in the members of the housekeeping and Grounds and Service Community…at SIU.

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During my years at SIU, I witnessed so many powerful ideas and acts that benefited the University, that came from members of the Building Services’ Staff…that I was compelled to speak to numerous chancellors and presidents regarding the untapped potential that was in their civil service community.

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My colleague and friend, Bill V., wrote a monthly newsletter…that extolled the virtues of Southern Illinois University.  His well thought out ideas were sought by both chancellors and presidents.

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Joyce D. oversaw and taught a comprehensive training program for Building Services employees…that was the envy of the Universities’ Official Training Officer.

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When Provost, John Dunn, needed members of the University Community to reach out to prospective students..he told me that no one responded in greater numbers than the civil service staff.

My friend, Elizabeth, began as my assistant in Building Services,…she is now the Vice President of the Civil Service Council and a vital aid to the Director of Plant and Service Operations.  She is the consummate professional…and you would have to search for a long time to find anyone who loves Southern Illinois University more…or who is working harder for its’ success and renewal.

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The custodial staff…the grounds workers…the food service staff…know of many changes and improvements…that can greatly enhance the recruitment and retention of our most precious citizens…our students.

My colleague and friend, Gerald, began a Thanksgiving Dinner that was loved by our over two hundred student custodial staff.  This act of caring and appreciation for SIU students…went far in keeping them at the University.

Steve B., worked with us for several years, in Building Services, is now, and has been for some time, teaching English in Taiwan.  He is also a master photographer.

Jonathon, my son, was so appreciated by the students that ate at Lentz Hall…during his time working for Food Service…that they created a Fan Club for him.  He and I often walk on Campus, during his lunch hour, and it is the rare day that he does not stop…numerous times…to greet students…who know him…and are his friends.

Chancellor Don Beggs…sought my opinion and I was honored and humbled by his confidence.

I was asked by Chancellor Argersinger to assist in recruitment efforts during her tenure.

I was asked by Chancellor Wendler to be a part of the Southern @ 150 Committee.

I was asked, on numerous occasions, by President Glenn Poshard…my opinion regarding a plethora of University issues.

I have witnessed Building Services staff; bring nightly food for their student workers and invite them to their home for holidays and make certain that they had studied of an exam and be there for them…with a shoulder to cry on and encouragement for them.

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When University leaders are searching for ideas to improve the SIU student experience and searching for members of the Community…that are passionate about  their School…search no further…than the true career members of the University…the civil service staff.

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Banned Books Week

Each year, Jonathon, alerts me when it is Banned Books Week.

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‘Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.  Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.  Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers – in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those considered unorthodox or unpopular.’   Banned and Challenged Books

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Here is a Top Ten List of Banned Books:

  1. The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain
  2. An Alphabet for Rotten Kid by Davide S. Elliot
  3. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  4. Jean Has Two Moms (Jean a deux mamans) by Opheilie Texier
  5. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  7. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  8. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  9. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  10. This One Summer by Maniko and Jillian Tamaki

The top ten banned books Atlanta librarians think you should read

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‘The 10 most challenged books in the US last year:

 

  1. This one Summer by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
  2. Drama, written and illustrated by Raina Telegemier
  3. George by Alex Gino
  4. I am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
  5. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  6. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk
  9. The Little Bill series by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P Honeywood
  10. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Christian Science Monitor

 

‘Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury, published in 1953.  It is regarded as one of his best works.  The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and ‘firemen’ burn any that are found.’   Wikipedia

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Jonathon and I went to Morris Library, on the Campus of Southern Illinois University, to honor Banned Books Week.

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Thank goodness, for Universities and High Schools and Grade Schools…that believe in freedom of thought and speech and writing and literature.

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I would not want to see the Bible banned…would you.

When we say that we wish prayer would be returned to our schools…are we talking about all religions?

Will the Muslim and the Jew be allowed to pray…along with the Christians?

Are, Our, freedom of prayer political advocates talking about all Christian faiths praying…I am Presbyterian…or are they thinking of only fundamentalist christian faiths?

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I wonder if we could all take a moment to consider…what is your truth in literature and writing and freedom of thought and freedom of speech…and does it represent the entirety of the human family…or if you are a person of faith…the entirety of God?

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The First Day of SIU’s Renaissance

At 10:00 am this morning, new Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, gave his first State of the University address at Shryock Auditorium.

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I was so pleased to see the main floor, full, and several people in the balcony.

I have never met the Chancellor…but I was impressed with his vision for renewal of the SIU Campus!

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Dr. Montemagno, demonstrated a clear grasp of the storied history of Southern Illinois University, and quoted from Betty Mitchell’s ‘Illustrated History of SIU’, which is one of my favorite books regarding our School.

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He traced the rise of SIU under the profound leadership of former President Delyte Morris and then the stagnation…once we reached our great height of enrollment.

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The Chancellor, went on to illustrate, that we are now clearly poised for renewal…if we make the right decisions…quickly.

Carlo, as I am told he request being called by his first name, outlined a reorganization of academic departments into the colleges that can best facilitate the synergy of their strengths.

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Chancellor Montemagno stressed that the student must be at the center of all academic decisions…the student is first!

He noted the importance of those who maintain the Campus being active ambassadors of SIU…and that we are all Salukis.

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I have always known that the custodian or the grounds worker or the food service person…that connects with one of our students…that person…to that student…is SIU.

The new Chancellor’s plan for a comprehensive reorganization is going to be rapid…or as he said, ‘for academicians…it will be at warp speed’, but the seriousness of the situation…demands that no time be wasted.

Dr. Montemagno, announced that in January the University Museum will be reopened…to joyful applause!

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The new Chancellor spoke, at some length of the inextricable link that Southern Illinois University and Southern Illinois have with each other.

There has not been a pay raise for faculty or staff for some time.

Carlo, announced that he will propose a salary increase for staff and faculty in the Spring.

The Chancellor…referred to the Carbondale Campus as the Flagship of Southern Illinois University…and has a comprehensive plan…to return us to our rightful position.

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He noted that SIU Carbondale…is already distinct among Universities in Illinois due to our academic programs and that he wants us to become a Carnegie I Institution.

Southern Illinois University…is the economic engine for the entire Southern Illinois Region.  When SIU succeeds…Southern Illinois flourishes.

Carlo spoke of SIU increasing it’s visibility throughout the region.  When McLeod Theatre sent it’s Players to my little grade school, in Eldorado, Illinois, I first learned what an exciting and wonderful place…SIU must be!

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I have been a student of leadership…most of my life.

I have heard many…installed University Leaders…speak…today…I heard a true leader…and it was inspirational!

Today, the Chancellor, stated that we were his family…and somehow…I believed him.

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Candid Conversation

Have you ever spoken to someone and after a lengthy conversation felt that what you had heard…did not really represent the person that you were communicating with?

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Often, it seems, we are attempting to present a facsimile of ourself to those that we meet.  This could be for a variety of reasons, including;

  1. We want to fit in with or be a part of a group.
  2. We want to comport with the norms of a professional position.
  3. We are trying to mimic, or ape, a person that we wish that we were.
  4. We do not want to express an opinion that varies from our employer or church leader.
  5. We are insecure in our own skin.

I have said, many times, that I enjoy talking with an authentic person.

Authenticity, brings surprise and questions and, sometimes, shock.

Sadly, often, people commit suicide…and the most common remark made about them is…they seemed so happy.

There can be few things worse…than trying to portray yourself as someone that you are not.

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Candid views and emotions and beliefs…are refreshing and they are original…because they are yours.

We all want to be liked and accepted and a member of the larger group…but these feelings should not be at the expense of our true identity.

The key to racial understanding is for white Americans and African Americans to get to know each other.

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A true and meaningful dialogue will have to include the candid airing of prejudices and bias…and the re-building of our opinions and understanding that is based on real and heartfelt conversation and fellowship with each other.

It is easy to disparage and criticize those who you do not know…it is not so easy to do so…when you have broken bread with them and understood their shared journey with you…on the road of life.

Candid conversation…can hurt.

Honest feelings…are often…raw.

At times our best efforts at reaching out to another that seems a loner or marginalized or sad or homeless…can be rebuffed and misunderstood.

We must continue to try.

There is no other solution for our sad, divided, and lonely…human family.

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Be who you are…if no one agrees with you…wave your flag proudly!

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If you see a wrong committed…do not be afraid to speak out…if no one stands beside you.

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‘Did You Wash Your Hands…After You Did Your Business?’

I attended church this morning.  I am proud of that assertion…because I do not attend as often as I should.

Early in the service…we have a segment that is called…passing the peace…where you shake hands with your fellow congregants…and wish them…peace.

As I shook, one young man’s hand, who I had spoke to earlier in the restroom…before the 9:30 am service began…he asked me…’If I had washed my hands after I had done my business?’

 

I responded that all that I had done was combed my hair…in the restroom….as I assumed that he was referring to our earlier encounter.

He repeated, emphatically, ‘did you wash your hands after you did your business?’

I responded that I had.  He said, thank you.

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I pondered this question…for sometime…today.

What is wrong with honesty and honest questions?

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So often, we hide our real questions and motives behind a hidden agenda…or as The Catcher In The Rye’s primary character, Holden Caulfield,  would say, we are phonies.

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This fine young man, had an honest question…and sought an honest answer.

How often do we say one thing…and mean another?

How often, do we have a pre-conceived idea and construct and culminating decision regarding our fellow human beings…and that ‘concrete form’ that we have constructed…is the last word and idea and opinion…on another human that is traveling the same road that we are traveling…and eating the same dust from the trail…and feeling the same pain…that we are experiencing?

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I just wrote a blog post about Race…and The Simplicity of Understanding.  I think that, understanding, begins and ends…with honesty.

If we seek to understand others…we must be honest with our questions…and patient with our listening.

Listening, is an art.

Have you ever noticed that often when you are speaking to another person..that they are looking at you…and seem attentive…but that if you would inquire as to what you had just said…they would be a blank.

So often, when another is speaking, we are thinking about what we are going to say next.

Much is the same, when it comes to understanding the racial divide.

If we enter the discussion…feeling that we already have all of the answers…or if we are unwilling to consider ideas…that are somewhat foreign to us….we have lost the value of the dialogue…before it begins.

At the same time….expect…questions that are candid and hurtful and painful and much like tearing a bandage off of a gaping wound…if healing…is to result from the discourse.

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‘Did you wash your hands…after you did your business?’

 

Race…Or The Simplicity of Understanding

I just read one of the best articles regarding white privilege.  The article is written by Lori Lakin Hutcherson and is entitled; My White Friend Asked Me on Facebook to Explain White Privilege.  I Decided to Be Honest.  The article is in yesmagazine.org.

‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.  He is fired.  He’s fired!’  Trump said to considerable applause from the overwhelming white crowd.  Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.  Everything that we stand for.’

‘Then, on Saturday morning, Trump tweeted this about Curry: ‘ Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.  Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!’   CNN

When I began at Southern Illinois University, almost 40 years ago, my first foreman was an African American.

Jim, treated me…much as a father would treat a son.  In fact, Jim instructed a crew boss, that had verbally assaulted me the night before, that I was his son but that I just would not call him daddy.  The white crew boss…got the picture and apologized.

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Jim, was African American…and he smoked the most aromatic cigars…I think that is why I enjoy cigars today…because of my mentor and friend…Jim.

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I grew up in virtually an all white town and attended school without the fellowship of African Americans.

The first church that I attended, beginning at the age of 12, had one African American woman in it…and she was a loving and caring person.

At SIU, I quickly learned that African Americans were people of…compassion and education and skill and high standards of living and family and morality and that they were dedicated friends.

Every African American…that considered me their friend…honored me…and I was humbled by their love.

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One of the primary elements to consider…is that we are all just people…we are members of the human family…and we all are seeking the same primary things from life.

We seek fairness of opportunity.

We want our children to succeed and thrive.

We all want to be recognized for our accomplishments….on an even playing field.

No one wants to apologize for their race…but rather….we want to be recognized for our membership in the human family.

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I would ask christian groups…that are biased or that believe that the white race is superior…do you think that Jesus…was an Anglo Saxon?

One of the first lessons that I learned…is to treat all that I encounter…the same.

My friend, Peter, was Dean of the Law School, when I was working at SIU.  He treated me as his equal…and I was very touched…as I was a member of the Housekeeping Department.  Peter is African American.

Jewel, was my counselor and friend.  She was the first person that I upgraded to foreman when I became Superintendent of Building Services.   Her wisdom…upheld me and strengthened me…Jewel was African American.

Alfie, was a student employee that worked in my office during the latter part of my career.  Alfie, was the consummate gentleman…and talented…and Muslim…and he was my friend.

I told Alfie, that he was my son…he just would not call me Daddy.  He responded that he would call me Daddy…and to this day…he greets me warmly when I see him…and his Mother…hugs me each time we meet.

I think, that we must all lay aside our taught prejudices…and our learned biases…and see each other as equal members of the human family….created by the same God.

Christian, was a member of my student custodial staff…in my early years at SIU.  He told me that international students loved working with me…because that I had no prejudice.  I have never received a greater compliment…and I have humbly worked to fulfill Christian’s kind words…from then…until now.  Christian was from Ghana, Africa.

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One thing that I have observed, when attempting to bridge the racial divide….it is not easy….and sincere efforts, at times, do not yield the results that you are striving for.

This is life!

The best of intentions can be misunderstood…or refused…or not appreciated.

That does not mean to stop trying and working and praying for success and understanding…it simply means that the healing of the hurts of prejudice and bias and learned hatred…are difficult…but not impossible…to overcome.

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Many years ago, we were discussing our strategy to convince the University Administration…to give the faculty and staff a holiday recognizing Veterans Day.  We felt, strongly, that our precious Veterans should be recognized by a University closure…when November 11, occurred during the work week.

Discussion continued, around the Council Table, regarding Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday.

A white member of the Civil Service Council, spoke up, and said that she thought that we should focus on the 4th of July…instead of Dr. King’s Birthday.

An African American Council member, responded, that the 4th of July was not her Independence Day.

This statement, did not sound strange to me, as African Americans came to America…as slaves.

African Americans, for many years, were recognized by their government, as three fifths of a human being.

Today, we see voter suppression laws…being adopted in several states…with the express intent of preventing African Americans…the right to vote.

Over compensation…is not the answer…under compensation….is not the answer…unfettered conversation between African Americans and white Americans…that is often hard and hurtful…and revealing…is the first step…to the simplicity of understanding.

I, along with some of my church friends, rented a little house from Brozy Claybrook, in Elkville, Illinois, shortly after I graduated from High School in 1975.

Brozy, was a dignified man…and his wife was a retired school teacher.  The Claybrook’s home was beautiful…and they treated we…young….uneducated…white boys…with compassion and dignity and respect…that was beyond our years.

If I can be the gentleman…that Mr. Claybrook was…I will be a success.

Mr and Mrs. Claybrook…were African Americans.

The World Trade Center was destroyed by two planes containin

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 11: The World Trade Center was destroyed by two planes containing hijackers. Firefighter Kevin Shea of Ladder 35 lies semi conscious in debris field with Firefighter Ritchie Nogan of 113 standing over him. Shea was the only survivor of his unit. He was carried out by Nogan, two EMS workers and photographer Todd Maisel. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

People seek refuge inside a bank building after the first to

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 11: People seek refuge inside a bank building after the first tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. (Photo by Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

TO GO WITH AFP STORY "Americans mark 9/1

New York, UNITED STATES: TO GO WITH AFP STORY “Americans mark 9/11 anniversary with new questions on vulnerability” – This 11 September 2001 file photo shows Marcy Borders covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York. Borders was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. The woman was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Free Thought…Free Speech…SIU

‘In a column emailed to faculty and staff, SIU President Randy Dunn said universities should be ‘guardians of free speech’ in a time when the country is politically divided and debates rage on over whether inflammatory or polarizing speakers be allowed to give talks on campuses.’   Daily Egyptian

”The best antidote for speech we don’t like, even speech we think is abhorrent, is more speech, not less,’ Dunn said.  ‘Let more voices be heard,’   Daily Egyptian

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Indeed, Universities should be guardians of free speech.

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Often, we feel compelled to protect and advocate, speech that we agree with.  However, the radical and treasonous speech that our country was founded upon…was not appreciated or protected by England…who we were seeking separation from.

‘On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry sounded one of the most famous calls to arms in American history.  During a meeting of the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond, the 38-year-old-lawyer and politician gave an impassioned plea urging the Old Dominion to form militias to defend itself against the British.  Henry’s brief address-which closed with the incendiary line ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’-swayed the convention in his favor, and his words became a rallying cry during the march to war that was soon to begin.’   History Stories

I have been watching, for the past three nights, Ken Burn’s documentary entitled Vietnam.  It is, as is all of Mr. Burn’s work, fascinating.

I was a youngster and a teenager during the war in Vietnam.  I watched Walter Cronkite and the CBS Evening News, nightly, show how many Americans had been killed that day…and how many Vietnamese.

I saw the protestors…stating that we should withdraw from Vietnam…I thought that I was going to be drafted…but…the draft was ended shortly before I became of age to register.

Hindsight is 20/20…it turns out… the protestors were correct….fifty thousand Americans died in Vietnam.

Today, we have more need for free speech…perhaps than ever in our history.  There is a great pull and division and a tearing of society between rich and poor and black and white and conservative and liberal….and a struggle for freedom of speech and voice…for those who have no…voice.

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Ruth Pommier, was my colleague and friend…during my SIU career.  Ruth spoke for many, in the Civil Service Community, that had not advocate…nor voice.

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When Chancellor Argersinger was terminated…I spoke on her behalf…and was told to be silent…by leaders at the top of the University hierarchy.

I refused to be silent…or to deny Mary Jane and my friendship with her and Peter…or to hide…at rally’s that were staged on her behalf.

For a period of, at least, two years, I feared termination…for my simple exercise of my right of free speech.

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So, I am now… and always have been…a believer in free speech…and I commend President Dunn for his advocacy of this basic human right.

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Evening Breeze

A ‘Brooks Tale’

 

‘Come in for supper’, mom called as she pushed open the screen door.

I was not ready for supper.

I had been riding my three speed bicycle…all over town, and I felt like I was the mayor.

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My three speed and me…had it all worked out.  We went where we wanted to…and did not come back until we darn well pleased.

Although, we lived in the country and it was about a mile’s ride into town…I never got weary of the thrill of the open road.

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At times, I would stop and chat with my friend Steve, who lived just on the outskirts of town, and we would commiserate about; school and sports and girls and country life.

I loved to stop at Carters and Choissers Drug Store for a nickel root beer.  It came in a giant frosty mug and it had a foamy head on it that made a great root beer mustache.

Often I would take in a movie at the Orpheum Theatre…they all knew me there…I was a regular patron.

Movies cost thirty five cents…and you could stay all day and re-watch the film as many times as you desired.

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Mom would give me a dollar, and I had money for a coke and popcorn and sometimes a candy bar.  It was heavenly.

Sometimes, my buddy, Dennis, would come along…and afterwards we would ride over to the Dairy Queen and purchase a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and two bags of barbecued potato chips.

We, then, rode our bicycles down the railroad tracks…and smoked…and coughed…and smoked some more…until the twenty Marlboro’s were gone.

Then, we ate the barbecued chips…to mask the odor of the cigarettes…we were not of age to smoke…but it did not seem to matter much to the Dairy Queen proprietor.

Once, the old man, that usually waited on me at the Dairy Queen, told me that I did not hardly look old enough to smoke Marlboros.

I responded that they were for my Dad…and that I would just have to go back and tell him that the Dairy Queen would not sell him any smokes.

The old man said, ‘Oh forget it buddy…I was just teasing you,’ and I paid the money and received the counter band…and the barbecued chips.

Earlier that day, Jim had pulled up to the Orpheum in his convertible.  He was wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots and he parked his big ragtop and staggered in to the theatre.

The owner of the Orpheum, who was always there…along with his wife…who sold the tickets, stopped Jim…just as he entered, and told him, firmly, that he would have to leave because he was drunk.

Jim protested the eviction and struggled some…but the owner, who was much older than Jim, removed the intoxicated interloper…with ease.

The Orpheum, had a room that was upstairs, called the Crying Room.  I believe that this was the room that the film projector was in?  I considered the Crying Room to be a profound mystery of the Theatre.

Mom extolled, hurry up Jay and get in the house…it is almost dark…and I do not like those horrible lights coming from the sky.

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Dad responded, as he sauntered in from the garage, which was his home away from home, that it is probably more explosions.

I could plainly see Phobos and Deimos…in the sky…and the air had become chilly…as we watched the explosions…from Earth.

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The Power of Story

I heard a good friend of mine, say once, that the recruitment problems at SIU could be solved if we became effective at telling SIU’s Story.

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It seems that we humans…love a good story.

When I was in grade school I was told that the United States was founded by the pilgrims and puritans and people that were fleeing England for religious freedom.

The story went on, that our country was founded on being a refuge for people that were fleeing oppression.

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Also, that the first Thanksgiving was spent with the pilgrims and indians having turkey dinner together.

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Now, when I talk of story…I am not implying that the narrative is a false account…but it could be?

I am fascinated with the Christmas Season.  I thoroughly enjoy Santa Claus and his once a year trip to visit all of the children in the world…to bring them gifts….that he has on his flying sleigh…that is pulled by eight tiny reindeer…with Rudolf  leading the entourage.

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There is the baby Jesus…in the manger…in December…and the wisemen bringing gifts of gold and frankincense and muir…to the Christ child.

And, then, there is the glorious Christmas Tree…which probably originated in Germany…with its’ resplendent decorations and brightly colored gifts under it.

The Story of Christ and his birth and life and ministry and resurrection…has inspired me since I was a child.

‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’   Hebrews 11:1   KJV

The Story of our belief in freedom from tyranny has caused us to fight in two World Wars.

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Have you ever been to Oxford University?  This is a School…that has such a rich reputation…a magnificent story.

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Students come from all over the world to attend Oxford.  It is the University of; C.S. Lewis and Margaret Thatcher, as well as Bill Clinton and Stephen Hawking.

Don’t you just love a good mystery?

When you watch a great movie…what set it apart?

I remember when our dear President, John Kennedy, was tragically shot and killed in front of Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

There are still a multitude of conspiracy theories, today, surrounding JFK’s murder.

The Bible…is the guidebook to millions of faithful christians.  Also, Jews rely on the Old Testament for direction in their faith.

Some read the Bible…and see a compassionate God of forgiveness and love.

Others see a God of wrath.

Others see a God of elite exclusivity and the subsequent ignoring of millions of the human family.

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What is this girl’s story?

 

‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.’   Hebrews 11:3   KJV

And, so…the beginning of…the Story of Man.

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