Monthly Archives: May, 2018

The Test

A Brooks’ Tale

 

Another rainy morning.

Abraham wondered if the coffee was made?  He just did not feel right until he had his morning cup of coffee.

To his great delight, Sarah had made the coffee before she had gone to work.  He preferred the exotic coffee blends…but Maxwell  House would have to do this morning.

As he sat on the porch he wondered what Isaac and Ishmael were doing?

Isaac was the CEO of Apple and had become a success beyond Abraham’s wildest dreams for him.

Ishmael was more a man of introspection and philosophical underpinnings.

Ishmael, was Isaac’s half brother.  They had different mothers.

Ishmael’s mom was, Hagar, and had been Sarah’s best friend…until her and Abraham’s trial separation.  During that sad time, Abraham began living with Hagar and from that relationship…Ishmael was born.

Abe texted Sarah, to remind her to pick up some Hanukkah candles as tonight was the first night of the celebration.

Isaac had promised to be in attendance, this evening, unless the merger meeting went longer than expected.

Apple was preparing to merge with Time Warner Inc….and the union would produce a company that he liked to refer to as the Behemoth.

Often, Abe told his son Issac that he was touched by G-d and that nothing could harm him nor stand in his way.

Issac was talented.  He had begun his employment with Apple…in the mail room and had risen to the CEO of the company.

His personality was magnetic…he drew people to him…people wanted what he had.

Issac, although he was fabulously wealthy and successful, continued to have Opportunity Meetings with the middle class and the poor.  This was actually one of the most enjoyable endeavors that he engaged in.

He was thrilled to see the excitement in the eyes of those in attendance at the meetings.  I, the narrator, having attended one of these meetings was amazed at not only the connection that Isaac made with the hungry audience but also his care and concern for each of them, individually, and their grateful response to that care.

Isaac could, if you followed his plan for success, transform you from a person in debt and struggling to make ends meet…to a financially successful individual in a matter of a few years.

There really is a compelling draw to the combination of faith and the power of positive thinking…and the results are either fantastic or demoralizing.

Now, Ishmael prayed seven times per day as he faced Meca.

He loved literature and theatre and the arts.

Ishmael loved the friendship and fellowship of all that he encountered.

He worked as a suicide counselor for the local social services institution.

Ishmael was accustomed to being considered less than Isaac.

He understood that he was born to a mother out of wedlock and he loved her and his father very much.

Ishmael sought the joys of living in his books and his faith and nature.

He felt such a reward…and such a high…each time that he convinced a person that called him or that came to see him…that they must not commit suicide.  That life had so much to offer them… and the richness and the beauty and the joy and the wonder of life…was to be savored and enjoyed until the last moment of natural life.

Ishmael lived in a small apartment.  He purchased his groceries at the local green grocer.  He attended off Broadway theatre…that he could afford.

His brother, often asked him, what he was going to do with his life…to which he responded…that he was doing it.

Ishmael was often reviled due to his low economic standing and his focus on poetry and literature and painting and writing, for no money, and service to his fellow man.

Sarah…tolerated Ishmael…but just barely…as every-time that she laid eyes upon him…she was reminded of the separation between her and Abe…and the pain and fear and suffering that she had endured during that cold season.  She recalled the suffering that they had endured for their faith…and the persecution and the pain and the separation and the death.

Sarah, took great pride in the financial success of Isaac and conversely she felt that Ishmael had obtained exactly what he deserved…a poor and meager lifestyle devoid of human comfort and the blessings of financial security.

Now, Ishmael worked in the local food Co-Op…and he was the, primary, bread slicer.

Often, Abe told Sarah, that they needed to financially help Ishmael more…

Sarah replied that if he had the moxie and the fortitude that Isaac had exhibited…then he would have not problem taking care of himself.

Abe texted Sarah, again, and told her to not forget the lochs and bagels and the gefilte fish.

He also mentioned that he had just heard from Ishmael and that he was coming along with his family.

Suddenly, Abe awakens…as Sarah called him to dinner.  He thought that he must have dozed off watching the baseball game.

He sleepily watched Isaac and Izzy play on the living room floor…and he thought…changes have to be made.

 

 

 

 

 

‘SIU Board of Trustees Votes to Oppose Split of University System’

I watched, with great interest, the Daily Egyptian livestream, of the Southern Illinois University, special meeting of the Board of Trustees.

I was very pleased to see their vote to oppose the split of the University System.

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I noted that University President Randy Dunn said that he was for the SIU System continuing…before the Trustees vote.

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If we are going to be, truth tellers, in our love for SIUC and in the same breath say that we want the System intact…we must seek the fair and and equitable distribution of state funds to each of our beloved campuses.

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First, a someone or someones must determine what the unbiased distribution of funds should be.

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Second, to take from one campus and give to another after budgets have been set…is a fools errand.

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Third, and most importantly, collaboration must be sought and fostered by all levels of university leadership to ensure that our university system can, indeed, function as a system is intended to.

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‘And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.’   I Corinthians 12:21   KJV

Hateful words and hurtful speech…will never solve SIU’s debates.  In fact we have engaged in a circular firing squad…for much to long.

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Our leadership, and our conduct, should be sober and clear eyed and systematic and fruitful.

We seek an institution of higher learning that attracts students from all walks of life.

A University that compels students to enter our great halls of learning…where the entire focus is on them.

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I discovered as a manager for over 25 years…when I put people first…everything else fell into place.

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There is a lot of hard feelings surrounding the recent system split and funding controversy…and it represents the same type of ‘inner slug-fest’ that has caused our enrollment to decrease and our morale to be deflated and our dreams of what SIUC can be…darkened.

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I have been witnessing battles between the office of the president and the office of the chancellor…for 40 years.

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Anthony Hall did not want Stone Center to know what they were doing and conversely…the president’s house did not want to share with the chancellor’s dwelling.

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In years gone by…we had a little wiggle room…a little room for error.

Now…hidden agendas and personality conflicts…are a death knell!

As Winston Churchill said, so eloquently, ‘We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.’   Brainy Quote

 

 

Love’s Light

Please enjoy a great Blog from my son, Jonathon.

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The word “hate” is a strong word. It saddens me to think of how often it’s tossed around like a football in a sports game. To live life fully is more like a battle than a game. When I first began a sincere study of my New Testament Bible as a teenage boy I was haunted by Jesus’ use of the word “hate” in the gospel of John chapter 3. Christ said in this passage, “This is the verdict. Light has come into the world. But men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Whoever practices evil hates the light and refuses to come into the light out of fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes to the light that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Light overcomes darkness. Love overcomes…

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Roseanne

‘ABC cancels ‘Roseanne” after star’s racist Twitter rant.’   CNN media

‘Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.’  ABC Channing Dungey said in a statement.   CNN media

The racist tweet, regarding,Valerie Jarrett, a former top aide to President Obama, ‘Muslim brother hood and planet of the apes had a baby=vj.’

 

 

The rebooted Roseanne show opened to over 18 million viewers and was praised by President Trump, who said, that the show was, ‘a show about us.’

Ms. Barr plays a Trump supporter on the cancelled show and, indeed, is one in real life.

It is encouraging to see ABC cancel the Roseanne show after her vile and caustic prejudicial remarks.  However, she has had a lengthy history of prejudicial and biased remarks.

What is most saddening is the racist free-for-all that is currently transpiring in our country.

Our President’s, past comments, regarding the Charlotesville Nazi protestors as, ‘good people,’ and his describing African Nations as, ‘shithole countries,’  or his contention that, ‘all Haitians have AIDS,’ or that NFL players who choose to kneel, during the National Anthem, ‘perhaps do not belong in this country.’

The President began his campaign by contending that the Mexicans who wanted to come to America…were rapist.

Many…who are already of a prejudice and racist proclivity have been emboldened by the Trump’s remarks and our country has taken several steps…backwards.

The emotion of empathy…is a valuable component of our human character.

Consider for a moment that…you…are being labeled and described in the most hateful and mean and evil terms?

Now, you are just going about living your life and perhaps you are shopping in a department store…and a store employee follows you for the entire time that you are there.

Maybe you stop in the local Starbucks and are waiting for someone…but while you are ‘waiting while black’ the manager of the coffee establishment calls the police on you.

 

 

You may be in a university commons room and ‘dozing while black’ when a fellow white student decides that they do not like that you are sleeping and calls the police on you.

Roseanne did not get 18 millions viewers by magic and President Trump obtained enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

God help us if we do not get a grasp on our ‘original sin’ of racism.

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Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

I have witnessed, on many occasions, the discomfort and the stares and the whispers, when a person of color is present in a predominately white christian event.  Rather than being made to feel welcomed and comfortable and a member of the group…they, often, are left on the sidelines and quietly stared at and the sorrow of the African American…is palpable.

We are witnessing the fall of our beloved nation if we do not address the cancer that is eating us alive.

If we are closet bigots…we are Roseanne.

If we enjoy and rejoice in the oppression of those who do not look like us…we are Trump.

If we cheer the racist tweets of our leaders and celebrities and feel that this is making America great again…we…white people…are next.

 

 

When we categorize races or paint them with the broad brush of demeaning and racist statements…we are beholding our reflection in the mirror…and all the vileness that we see looking back at us!

 

 

 

 

Let me know how it feels to be stopped for ‘driving while being white?’

 

 

‘His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.’  Reveletatons 1: 14-15   KJV

 

Memorial Day

‘Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces…Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in the military services.’   Wikipedia

My father was a World War II Veteran.  His service was in the Pacific Theatre.

The sacrifice of or veterans, to ensure our safety and domestic tranquility, is a sacrifice like no other and, often, the ultimate sacrifice.

I have heard the contrast of life in service to our country…and in conflict and war…being as if you were in a different world than the people that are back home…and that you are fighting for.

The courageous veterans that have fought and died for our country…are illustrative of our, beautiful Melting Pot of peoples that have made the United States their home.

The tombstones are silent reminders of those whose young lives were cut short.

All races and creeds and colors and faiths…have fought and died for our beloved flag.  We love what it stands for and we are constantly working to achieve and attain its promise!

‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crossed, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.’

 

‘We are the Dead.  Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.’

 

‘Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, thought poppies grow

In Flanders fields.’

In Flanders Fields By John McCrae

Who Is Controling You?

‘You may be an ambassador to England or France

You may like to gamble, you might like to dance

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world

You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.’

 

‘But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

It may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody’   Bob Dylan

 

 

Have you ever noticed the people in your life that want to have either some or total control of your actions?

The workplace has inherent in its structure…the control of the employees that are being paid by the organization.  This control, may include, institution and departmental rules and even a dress code.  Often your employer may also be governed by state and federal laws that apply to your work product.

The above paragraph sounds a bit like a 1950’s Industrial Manual.

However, the rules and regulations of the shop do not extend to freedom of speech and thought.  These are Constitutionally protected rights.

I have observed supervisors and managers and administrators who regarded their employees similarly to chess pieces on a chessboard.  They moved them, at will, to facilitate their own personal gain…with little regard for the employee’s welfare and the good of the organization.

There is another type of control of another that is more insidious and difficult, at first, to detect.

Often, passive/aggressive persons will seek to control another through carefully worded questions and suggestions and statements that are designed with a hidden agenda in mind.

Many religious people are adept at endeavoring to control their friends and family and fellow congregants through reminding them what the Bible says…according to their private interpretation.

It is a healthy and productive exercise to examine, periodically, why you are doing the things that you do and saying the things that you say and, subsequently, feeling miserable in many of these human actions.

Many successful salesmen and women understand how to frame a paradigm to fit the item that they are selling.

Media and marketing are experts in causing us to want what they are selling.  Often after you purchase the, cleverly packaged item, you wonder what you were thinking when you made the purchase.

The term, fake news, is now an ensconced member of our lexicon.

I have observed many relationships where one of the partners was searching for a clone of themselves and thus immediately set out to transform their partner into their image.

 

 

A narcissistic personality…responds to only one image…

 

‘Might be a rock’n roll addict prancing on the stage

Might have money and drugs at your commands, women in a cage

You may be a businessman or some high degree thief

They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.’

 

‘You may be a state trooper, you might be an young turk

You may be the head of some big TV Network

You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame

You may be living in another country under another name.’

 

‘You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride

You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side

You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair

You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir’

 

‘Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk

Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk

You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread

You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed.’

 

‘You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You’re gonna have to serve somebody,

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.’     Bob Dylan

 

 

 

Difficult Conversations or Constructive Criticism

Over the 31 years that I was either a supervisor or manager/administrator…one of the most challenging tasks that I faced was the difficult conversations that ensued regarding poor job performance.

You may think that leaders relish these necessary duties…but that has not been my experience.

I lost count, many years ago, of the supervisors and managers who came to me to discus the poor job performance of a member of their staff, yet when I read their annual evaluation of the person that they discussed with me…it was glowing.

A custodial crew supervisor told me that he hated supervising people…but that he needed the money.

On a regular basis, when I first became a foreman who’s job was to manage several custodial crew supervisors, a supervisor would tell me that they were going to terminate one of their student worker staff for poor job performance.  My first question to the supervisor would be if they had throughly trained the poor performing student?  Often the reply would be that they had not but that they had either, verbally told them what to do or asked one of their full time Building Service Workers to train them.

One of the foreman, who was a member of my immediate staff, told Mary Jane that at times she had experienced discussions with me and did not realize until she departed and thought about the exchange…’that she had just got her ass chewed.’

Now, that is plain talk and was not my purpose…but it was a discussion regarding a kernel of constructive criticism.

Each of us has feelings of self worth.  We want to be of value to the organization and its mission.  We hope that our supervisor understands our efforts.

It has always been my habit to, ‘sandwich’, my difficult conversations between two slices of sincere compliments.

Also, always, praise in public and constructive criticism…only in private.

If a member of your staff does something well…go up to the highest mountain and shout it until the echos reverberate!

When someone makes a mistake, and who among us has not, speak to them behind closed doors…and do not talk about what you said to anyone else.

When I sat before University Leaders and felt that, due to my position of advocacy, I was compelled to engage in difficult conversation…I did so with great humility and some trepidation.

The Chancellors and Presidents that I had the privilege of speaking with had all power…and I had no more than the power of persuasion.

When speaking with a leader…I first had at the forefront of my mind…all that I admired about them and their leadership…and I disclosed these, genuine, thoughts to them on a regular basis.

I then, had in mind the poor and humble and wonderful people that were counting on me to be their, honest, advocate…and to not hurt them or the leaders opinion of them…but to deliver their concerns to someone who had a compassionate heart.

I never made a person an offender for a word…lest in the ‘kingdom of the blind, the man with one eye is king.’

Empathy was always the most valuable emotion that I had…and I never seemed to run out of it.

I understand anger…because I have been angry.

I understand a misplaced word…because I have misplaced more than one.

I understand challenges…because I have been challenged.

I understand being hurt and afraid and being is sorrow and despair….because I have been there.