Shades of Gray

Jonathon and I were talking, over lunch, and I was reminded of what I told a former SIU Chancellor…twenty years ago.

I noted that although there were many ‘Black and White’ issues that confronted University life…the preponderance of the University runs in ‘Shades of Gray.’

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It is rather easy to write about or think about or speak about difficult and complex issues and feel that your opinion is righteous and just and the only way to think about the subject.

It is much more difficult to experience, what you are so adamantly convinced of and certain in your rightness, only to discover that what you thought was patently a ‘cut and dry’ issue…is, indeed, complex.

Many are against abortion.  They would do almost anything to protect the unborn child and ensure that it is able to be born.  Many of these same people seem to have little concern for countless children who are born into poverty and no medical coverage and food deprivation.   They support the reduction or elimination of Food Stamp Programs and access to decent medical care and view those who are in poverty as lazy and shiftless and that they simply need to work harder if they want enough to eat.

We look on in consternation at the proliferation of the homeless in our communities.  We are saddened and curious as to how so many of our fellow citizens came to such a low estate.  Studies have proven that a majority of the homeless suffer from mental  illness.  Yet, our government continues to cut or eliminate mental health programs.

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Across or country many football players and cheerleaders have chosen to take a knee during our national anthem.  These individuals are representing many in their community who have been marginalized and abused and made to feel that they are not a participant in the American Dream.

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Many of the fans in the stands…have fought in wars and many have had loved ones and friends killed and maimed…and the flag means everything to them.

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I have written regarding my support for peaceful protests.

Mary Jane and Aaron and Jonathon and I were caught in the middle of one last Friday.  I did not feel supportive nor empathetic nor did I want to join in the endeavor to close the individual businesses in the St. Louis Galleria…I was there to Christmas shop…and I felt the love and joy and enjoyment of the Season…until the shouting began.

‘Being taught to avoid talking about politics and religion has led to a lack of understanding of politics and religion.  What we should have been taught was how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic.’      The Other 98%

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Neither political party is all right or all wrong.

We, humans, seem to really bond with symbols?

I have visited many beautiful churches…especially in Europe.

The Vatican is breathtaking!

But, the Church is not the building…it is the people that fill the building.

I love Southern Illinois University…but SIU is not the multitude of wonderful structures that are found on the Campus…it is the wonderful people that comprise the Community.

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Our beautiful…red…white…and blue flag…that men and women have died for in order to ensure that it stands over a free and democratic people…that comprise a ‘Melting Pot’ of immigrants from all over the world.

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Let us all love and support and revere what the symbols of our land exhibit…

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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)

‘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-tossed to me.’

‘I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

From the poem, New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty

 

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