Monthly Archives: July, 2018

Question Everything That You Are Told.

From my childhood until the present…I have questioned what I am told.

Life brings us many assertions of truth and along with them the expositor of the truths assures us that they have the ‘unvarnished’ corner regarding the truth.

In Christopher Columbus day it was commonly believed and accepted that the Earth was flat.

It was accepted as fact, that the Sun traveled through space around the earth.  ‘Newton realized that the reason the planets orbit the Sun is why objects fall to Earth when we drop them.  The Sun’s gravity pulls on the planets, just as the Earth’s gravity pulls down anything that is not held up by some other force and keeps you and me on the ground.’    Wikipedia

‘Alchemy – a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life.’

‘A power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.’

‘An inexplicable or mysterious transmuting.’    Meriam Webster Dictionary

We are currently living through a bit of political alchemy in the United States.

‘Breaking: Trump and Kim sign agreement pledging to work toward ‘a lasting peace.’

‘We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind and sign a historic document,’  Kim told reporters at the signing ceremony, speaking through a translator.  ‘The world will see a major change.’    Vox  June 12, 2018

‘Washington Post claims North Korea working on new missiles.’   Washington Post  July 30, 2018

Through my years as a manager, of housekeeping operations,  at Southern Illinois University I was often in the office of an administrator, in the Student Service division, who had a sign that simply said, ‘THINK.’

It is incumbent upon we humans to think about what we are being told…as truth!

When our president exclaims on countless occasions that he is not guilty of collusion with the Russians regarding the 2016 presidential election…and now has his lawyer, Rudy Guilliani, say that collusion is not illegal…I can not help but wonder why the goal posts continue to be moved?

‘According to a Boston radio interview with golf journalist James Dodson, Eric Trump tells Dodson that Trump golf courses heavily relied on funding from Russia.  Eric Trump denies this allegation.’    The Moscow Project

‘A Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, helps finance the struggling Trump-branded hotel in Toronto by purchasing an $850 million stake in a Ukrainian steel mill from the project’s developer.’    The Moscow Project

President Trump, recently admonished a group of veterans that he was addressing, to not believe what they were seeing or hearing.

As of May 1, 2018 or 466 days since he took the office of the presidency…’president Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categories and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.’    The Washington Post

I love science fiction and alternate realities are fun and mind expanding.  However, when the commander in chief lives in these forums and makes decisions that affect me and my family and you and your family…it is a problem.

There really is some glaring similarities in religious leaders and political leaders.  For both, you have the right, through analytical examination, to expect a consistency in message and demonstration of enacting the message in the leaders personal life.

If a religious leader extolls their congregation to live a life of giving and poverty as a methodology of obtain worldly wealth…and you observe that the leader continues to grow richer while the parishioners grow steadily poorer….something is wrong with the message?

If a political leader tells us that tariffs are good for the american people and our financial well-being…and yet some segment of our economy are increasing jobs…others are loosing much more jobs than the areas that are increasing…and farmers are seeing their crops, in real time, become virtually worthless…and the president proposes 12 billion in aid for them to supplement the damage that his tariffs are doing…

Or, when our tax cut is supposed to help all americans, trickle down economics, but the sad fact is that after some bonuses given at the outset of the cuts…now wages are stagnate…and another tax reduction is proposed…this time for…only the rich?

And…the president of a university is convinced to leave…with an monetary incentive of more money than many of the civil service staff will make in the next 20 years…

And the implosion of Wall Street is rescued by a massive bailout by our tax dollars…and then…the next year…many of the executives of the taxpayer bailed out companies…receive millions of dollars in bonuses….

Or when we shout from the mountain top…the virtue of having a wall at our southern border…when not so long ago…much of our country was owned by Mexico.

Or when we talk about a merit system of immigration…when we took the country from the native americans and subsequently gave them small and arid pieces of land to live on.

Who decides the meritorious?

 

 

 

 

 

Reminded of Home

Maria Shriver wrote about visiting her brother, Bobby, in her Sunday Paper.  She said that her brother told her that when he awakened and heard her voice that it sounded like home.

How often has the sound of someone’s voice stirred pleasant memories in your mind?

I recall, fondly, the associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church, reading scripture each Sunday…20 years ago.  Her voice and the manner in which she read the scripture was often the highlight of the service, for me.

So many times my spirits have been lifted by a talented singer’s rendition of a song and I have been transported from feeling disconnected to feeling that I have a place in the plan.

‘And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:’    Revelations 14:2   KJV

We were sitting in Shryock Auditorium watching a Christmas Theatre production by a traveling company.  Unknown to the audience…many of the performers had left the stage and were entering behind us from the auditoriums front foyer.  The combination of the surprise entrance and one of the singers resonate bass voice…I recall to this day.

When I was a child, my mom would call out to me, to wake me in the morning, ‘hit the deck you rubberneck!’  She would smile, broadly, and I knew that it was time to arise.

When friends would stay overnight…she would awaken them with the same, unique, morning call…and the look on their faces was priceless.

When Aaron and Jonathon were young, I slept during the day due to working third shift.  I can hear their voices, as they stood by the edge of my bed, as they debated if I was awake or not.

It is no surprise to me that the popular singer, Bob Dylan, received the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature for his iconic lyrics.  The combination of his unique voice and the moving words of his songs is incredible.

‘A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.’   Proverbs 25:11   KJV

When I was in high school the wonderful old hymn, Amazing Grace, had been popularized by Judy Collins and it played on the school bus radio everyday that I rode it…for sometime.  I was new in my christian walk…and that song encouraged me each school day.

When I talk with my brothers Brock and Bill…I hear my dad’s voice…and it feels like home.

 

 

The Fringe

The Edinburgh Evening News tells me that it is one week until the Edinburgh Festival Fringe begins.

‘But anyone arriving in the city for the first time could be forgiven for thinking the world’s biggest arts festival is in full cry such is the throng of tourists and street entertainers outside its headquarters.’    Edinburgh Evening News

Famous past performers at the Fringe Festival are: Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, Rachel Weisz and the, late, Robin Williams.

It was two years ago, now, that we visited our dear friends, Margo and Jeff, in the United Kingdom and traveled to Edinburgh for five days of the glorious Fringe Festival.

Before visiting Edinburgh we spent time in Red Hill and London and Oxford and Stratford -upon -Avon and the Cotswolds.

There was so much to see and to do that, at first, I experienced a bit of sensory overload.

Just the history and the sublime beauty of Edinburgh is breathtaking!

And, then, there is the Royal Military Tattoo that is enacted each night, concurrently with the Fringe, on the castle grounds.

Edinburgh, somehow, got into my bones and my heart and I want to return.  It is a mysterious and timeless city that beckons to its’ visitors with a siren call.

The magnificent combination of Edinburgh and lastly York made for a wonderful conclusion to our three week visit.

Conditioning

‘Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.  These feelings resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.  Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of ‘strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.’    Wikipedia

‘It was formally named when four hostages were taken during a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden.  The hostages defended their captors, after being released and would not agree to testify in court against them.  Stockholm syndrome is ostensibly paradoxical because the sympathetic sentiments captive feel toward their captors are the opposite of the fear and disdain an onlooker may feel towards the captors.’    Wikipedia

‘Stockholm syndrome has also come to describe the reactions of some abuse victims beyond the context of kidnappings or hostage-taking.  Actions and attitudes similar to those suffering from Stockholm syndrome have also been found in victims of sexual abuse, human trafficking, discrimination, terror, and political oppression.’    Wikipedia

I was watching a television special regarding the Jonestown Massacre that occurred in 1978.  The show traced the history of the cult leader, Jim Jones, and illustrated that in his early days he preached about social justice and made all welcome in the People’s Temple.  Slowly he became more and more authoritarian and this included verbal and physical abuse of the church’s parishioners.

Reverend Jones insisted that the church members refer to him as father and to his wife as mother.

Yet, over 900 members of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple…followed him to Guyana and drank Kool aide, laced with cyanide, and stayed obedient to their father and mother to their deaths.

We are all the product of our conditioning.

How do people attend a church where the parishioners are publicly verbally abused and where they also have undergone such emotional harassment…and yet seek the approval and affection of the person that is abusing them?

How do they give their money, ‘until it hurts’, and become poorer by the year while their faith leader becomes richer?

Why do women continue to live with a husband or boyfriend that abuses them physically and emotionally and verbally?

If you are employed by someone that verbally harasses and harangues you…you should report them to a higher authority.

Life is much to short to live in emotional distress and fear of a small minded and emotionally stunted supervisor!

How do so many americans who stood for morality and holiness and conduct that is becoming a leader…now say that those things do not matter?

Should we be the people that, ‘sit up straight’, when our leader commands…or should we rationally examine what we are being told as truth?

We humans tend towards hero worship in our leaders…and, at times, this includes leaders in the work-place.

When I was working at Southern Illinois University I received, roughly, equal parts praise and criticism.

I thought then…and I think now…that is the way that it should be.

Positive People Make a Positive Difference!

Have you ever considered that problems are only insurmountable…if you allow them to be?

I was speaking with my friend and former colleague, Elizabeth, recently and noted, once again, her positive attitude.

Elizabeth and Tony have illustrated the most proactive leadership for the Civil Service Council…that I have had the pleasure of witnessing.

The Civil Service Council has been at the cutting edge of addressing  the needs of civil service staff, and they have done so with a remarkable ‘can-do’ attitude.

I think of my good friends the Sheffer’s and their eternal sunny attitude.  They are not only hard working people…but compassionate to all.  Just being around them…is a morale boost for me!

And, then, of course, my friend Sarah.  What a stellar example of how to live your life.  Although she is facing a difficult challenge…her attitude and her Facebook postings are nothing but up-beat and positive…and inspiring!

My son, Jonathon, was handed a bag full of lemons…and he made lemonade for all to enjoy!

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My son, Aaron, is such an up-beat, manager, that he is sought out by his leaders to help in other facilities…across the country!

My friend and former colleague, Bill V., was often an inspiration to me.  His decisive attitude and positive outlook on all things were invaluable during our years together at Building Services.

I think of my friend, Cyndy, who never saw a cause that she did not want to aid.  She is a jewel that is often under-appreciated by those around her.  She is a lifter of spirits and a faithful friend.

Brad Dillard is one of the most gregarious and inspiring leaders that I have ever known.  Brad, simply does not take no for an answer…but rather he finds a way to navigate around the mountain of a problem and take care of the people in Plant and Service Operations!

My friend and colleague of many years, Garrett, never saw a problem that he was not willing to tackle.  Often I gave him some of the most difficult issue confronting our department…and he succeeded in solving the issues at hand…every time!

I grew up with my friend, Jeff, and witnessed his transformation from a homeless person to a millionaire.  The key to Jeff’s success has always been his unflagging desire to help those that are less fortunate than him.

I admire chancellor Montemagno.  Facing a significant health challenge he is unbowed and his course for SIU is true!  His vision for positive academic change for SIUC…will succeed and our enrollment will increase!

I see my friend, Jerry C., walking his dog, when Mary Jane and I go to deliver Meals on Wheels from the Senior Center.  I think of what wonderful and christian people that he and his wife, Marla, are.  Though challenges beset them…nothing deters them from being outstanding and positive people.

Jonathon tells me that he saw, Ryan C., and that he asked about me.  He goes on to say what a good guy Ryan is.  He not only is a good guy but he is one hell of a hard worker.  No matter what herculean task that he is given in Building Services…he does his dead level best to complete it!

Joan P. was one of the most extraordinary members of my staff during my 25 years as a manager of Building Services.  When the rest of us were tired and ready to stop working…Joan was ready to double-down and get it done!

My brother Brock and my sister-in-law Marcy are inspirational to me!  I have never seen more dedicated and loving parents…in my life!

Southern Illinois University does not have anything to worry about…if it will call upon people like the ones that I have mentioned in this writing.

 

 

 

 

63 Chinese Students Visit SIUC

’63 students and four chaperones from China are participating in a two week long summer program through a longtime partnership with Northeast Normal University in China.’ WSIL TV 3 ABC

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‘It great, people here are very warm and welcome and they have all been polite,’ Wang said, adding she’s close to 100 percent committed to SIUC’ WSIL TV 3 ABC

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SIUC is resplendent and ready for the upcoming Fall semester. Our international students are an exciting and vital part of the success of the university.

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The best is yet to come for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale!

Searching for Reality?

‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-for ever.’

‘Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’

‘Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again.’

‘Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’

‘We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing…The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not s means; it is an end.’

‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.’
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‘For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.’

‘There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.’ 1984 by George Orwell

Last evening president Trump extolled a group of veterans that he was speaking to at a VFW in Missouri, ‘What you’re seeing isn’t happening.’ Trump went on to inform the veterans that what they were reading, was not happening.

In reference to the Access Hollywood tape of October 7, 2016, ‘We don’t think that was my voice,’ Mr. Trump told the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was no actually him, according to three people close to the president.’

The Helsinki Summit of a few days ago revealed clearly that president Trump not only has affection and obsequies deferral to Russian president Vladimir Putin, but also that he took Putin’s side against his own, Republican, intelligence agency officials. His changing of the word ‘would’ to ‘wouldn’t’ is an insult to rationale logic and intelligence.

Now, all of this would be somewhat humorous..if it was not so deadly to our republic. President Trump insists that Fox News be played on the television screens of Air Force I. Really, who cares, if it were not illustrative of a much much deeper problem for our nation.

For the psst several years we tend to receive our news from the television newscast or newspaper or Facebook…that suits our political and, often, religious affiliation.

Truth…is not governed by democrats or republicans or Baptist or Presbyterians or Pentecostals.

Truth is based on verifiable facts…not political obfuscation and rhetoric.

If we persist in allowing our ability to search for truth to be governed by our political persuasion…we are doomed to the anarchy of fascism and totalitarianism.

When we become so confused that black is white and up is down and that it is alright to separate children from their parents with no plan on reuniting them and that it is a wonderful suggestion to have the murderous dictator of Russia bring his intelligence officers to the United States to examine Special Counsel Robert Muller’s examination of possible Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election…and that the president has the right to pull the security clearances of former intelligence officers, which is extended for the benefit of the United States…not for them, simply because those former intelligence officers disagreed with the president?

Journalist are being targeted and murdered by terrorist and others…while the president continues to refer them as the ‘fake media and the enemies of the people.’

Fox New journalist disagreed and criticized the president’s news conference in Helsinki…are they now fake news and the enemy of the people?

Tapes were made public, yesterday, that had been made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer. On the tape can be heard the president and Mr. Cohen discussing creating a shell company to pay for hush money for former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of her and Mr. Trump’s affair…prior to the presidential election which would occur, only, a few weeks later. George F. Will, a well respected, former Republican, columnist and, frequent, analyst on television news programs, said that. ‘Trump-Cohen tape is just more evidence president Trump is a ‘seedy man’ and ‘low life from Queens.’

So, who should we believe…our president and those who lie for him daily…without compunction…or our lying eyes and our lying ears?

Friendship…Don’t Try So Hard

I have heard it said that to have friends you must show yourself friendly.

Also, friendships develop from a variety of associations.

There are friends from work related situations.  Those who work on a team together often become great friends as they work toward a common goal.  There are few, work related advantages, that are greater than having friends that you support and that support you.

 

Often churches produce close bonds with fellow parishioners.  Gathering weekly in a faith community and praying for and helping your fellow members can create strong bonds of affection that is somewhat similar to family.

One of the most exciting friendships is the bond and affinity developed between people of different races and religions and often different countries.  This is, indeed, a friendship that pays remarkable dividends on several levels.  You learn about someone who is different than you in culture and religion, as well as political systems and country.

 

Friends can come out of nowhere.  I became friends with a former chancellor of SIU and we could not have come from more diverse backgrounds.  However, our affection for SIU was the foundation of our affiliation.

I have witnessed…and been guilty of…trying to hard to have people like me and consider me their friend.  This propensity for everyone to like me has carried over into extended family…as well.

Through trial and error I have discovered that you must not try to hard.  If friendship or familial ties are to develop…it takes two…too make it work.

Have you ever been dropped?

Have you ever been dropped by a friend?

Have you ever been dropped by a member of your family?

It hurts!

Often you reflect…what could I have done differently or what could I have done better?

I have always believed that if friendship is a 50/50 proposition….I must give at least 75%.

For many years I worked hard to develop friendships with university leaders in order to be a advocate for my, large department, as well as the entire civil service community, during my years as council president.

I quickly learned that I either clicked with a new leader…or I did not.  I was the same person with each of them….but ‘I was not all of their cup of tea.’

In one of our prayers, this past Sunday, we prayed to be a friend to others and not for the purpose of what they could do for us.

I discovered, many times, during my SIU years that university leaders seemed to warm up to me when they needed something from me.

So, worry not…if a friendship or a possible romantic hook has been placed in the water…and the prospective fish is not nibbling at the bait.

 

There are other people that are noticing you and thinking that they would like to be your friend…and perhaps more.

Camaraderie and friendship…and yes even romantic relationships should never have to be forced…they occur organically and with mutual interest from both parties.

Two, Vital, Groups That Must Be Listened To At SIU…If We Want to Regain Our Enrollment Glory

This year marks my 40th year of being affiliated with Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

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Two, glaring, failures that I noticed early in my career; was the caviler attitude towards students, as if the supply of them was as the, proverbial, horn of plenty and the, profound, silence of the civil service community…when it came to university policy and decision making.

The opinions of our students and their concerns and needs should be of paramount importance to university leadership.

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Now, the university has created constituency groups that are a convenient political backing or ‘go to’ for leadership schemes and agendas…when in reality the appropriate constituency group, often, does not represent the overall feeling of their constituents.

Often I have observed on Board of Trustees agendas that Board matters that are to be voted on at the up-coming Board meeting have had either no constituency input or that the relevant constituencies were not consulted.

Representative government is important and the idea of elected representatives from various groups on campus, representing the groups wishes…but, in reality many of those who serve on these elected bodies do so for a variety of reasons and many sit silent on a plethora of important issues that affect their group significantly.

I have observed a model of communication with students that works…and that is to meet with small groups throughout campus and seek their, honest input, and take copious notes.  I have observed the same, listening tour, model work in the civil service community.