I recently watched, on HBO, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling. Judd Apatow, Garry’s friend for twenty five years, created the four and one half hour examination of the life of the ground breaking comedian.
When I was watching Mr. Shandling in his show that was about a show, The Larry Sanders Show, I knew that I was witness to something unique and a bit mysterious. I received the complete DVD Set for a retirement gift.
The Apatow documentary took time to focus on Garry Shandling’s perfectionism and his unflagging desire to have his stand up comedy seem perfectly natural and his delivery totally relaxed. He worked tirelessly to present himself as a genuine and in the moment person…real and without pretense.
The famous comedians that owe their success to Shandling is numerous and includes; Jim Carey and Kevin Nealon and Sarah Silverman and Bob Saget and Conan O’Brien. Garry was a mensch.
I am currently watching a Netflix documentary entitled Wild Wild Country,which is about the Indian Mystic Guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The controversial move to Wasco County, Oregon by the mystic and his followers, is a fascinating examination of a religious cult that has by and large been forgotten.
One of the most notable items, in the first three episodes, was the tremendous emotional and intellectual hold that Bhagwan had over his followers. This cult leader connected with his flock on such an elemental and visceral level that they were willing to follow him anywhere and do whatever that they perceived that he desired. At times, just a look from him would drive them into weeping and an ecstatic emotional experience.
There is a reason that many young people leave denominational religion and join charismatic and fundamentalist groups. They are hungry for someone that cares about them.
When I began at Southern Illinois University in 1978, one of the first people that I heard about was former University President Delyte Morris. My colleagues told me that President and Mrs. Morris had bicycled the Campus on a daily basis and that they stopped and spoke with members of the campus community.
The students felt that President and Mrs. Morris cared about them and their lives and that they were a part of a large SIU family.
Former Chancellor Jo Ann Agersinger told me, after I had referred to her as Dr. Argersinger, several times, during my hosting her in an open forum on campus, to please call her Jo Ann.
Chancellor Argersinger was know to walk out into the middle of a field that was being mowed by a Ground’s staff member, to shake their hand and introduce herself and demonstrate her care and concern for the vital member of the University.
People who met Jo Ann felt that they knew her and that they were a part of her plan to revitalize SIU and that they were recognized as necessary and an integral member of her staff.
My friend, who I have total confidence in, tells me that new chancellor Montemagno has a similar concern for the Physical Plant staff. I understand that he greets them warmly and asks their opinion and works to ensure that their jobs are secure.
Another friend, who…again I have total confidence in, tells me that the chancellor has worked to revitalize the Dog Pound at Basketball games in the Arena. He often sits with the students in the Dog Pound and cheers the game with them.
President Trump won election to the Presidency because that he connected with enough Americans that had felt forgotten and ignored and disenfranchised…for many years.
We are all searching for someone who inspires us.
We are all searching for a leader that is more than talk…a leader who’s actions demonstrate that they care about our welfare and that empathize’s with our concerns.
Perhaps the secret for turning around the enrollment issues of our beloved SIU is to make it one large Saluki Dog Pound and our chancellor lead us in successive cheers regarding our alma matter and all that is right about it and good about it and extraordinary about it?
I can see the history professors coming from the east and the engineering professor coming from the west and the agriculture professors coming from the north and the theatre professors coming from the south.
I can see the undergraduate and the graduate students coming through the middle of the throng and they are arm in arm.
I can see the Building Service Workers and the Grounds workers and the locksmiths and the carpenters and the clerks and the plumbers and the electricians and the painters and the food service workers…all taking their seats in the congregation of the vital and important and integral members of SIU’s Community.
And, Oh My….there comes the Mayor of Carbondale and the City Manager and business owners and the Kroger’ Managers and the Schnucks’ Managers and representatives from Murphysboro and Anna and Harrisburg and Eldorado and all of the towns and villages of Southern Illinois.
Synergy comes automatically when people feel valued and needed and the dynamic propulsion of ideas are sought and accepted by those charged with leadership decisions.