‘We Are Better Than This!’
‘I’m sitting here listening to all this, and it’s very painful, very painful,’ he began addressing Cohen. ‘As I sat and listened to both sides, I just felt as if…we are better than this. We really are. As a country, we are so much better than this.’
‘I don’t know why this is happening for you, but I hope a small part of this is for our country to be better,’ Cummings continued. ‘If I hear you correctly, you are crying out for getting back to normal. Sounds to me like you want to make sure our democracy stays intact.’
‘The one meeting I had with the president, I said, ‘The greatest gift we can give to our children is making sure we give them a democracy better than the one we came upon.’
‘Let me tell you the picture that really, really pained me. You were leaving the prison, you were leaving the courthouse, and, I guess it’s your daughter, and braces or something on. Man that thing, man that thing hurt me. As a father of two daughters, it hurt me. And I can imagine how it must feel for you – But I’m just saying to you – I want to first of all thank you. I know that this has been hard. I know that you’ve faced a lot. I know that you are worried about your family. But this is part of your destiny. And hopefully this part of your destiny will lead to a better, to a better, to a better Michale Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States, and a better world. And I mean that from the depths of my heart.’
‘And I’m hoping all of us can get back to this democracy we want and we should be passing on to our children, so they can do better than we did,’ he said. ‘When we are dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, ‘In 2019, what we did to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?’
Democratic Congressman, Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, at the conclusion of Michael Cohen’s, public, testimony before the committee. The Baltimore Sun
When, freshman, Democratic Representative, Rashida Tlaib commented that she felt that it was a ‘racist act’ to for Republican Congressman, Mark Meadows, to have as a ‘prop, an African American employee of president Trump who attest that she had never heard the president say a racist comment…Representative Meadows became, incensed, and, immediately, began requesting the Ms. Tlaib’s comments be, ‘taken down!’
Chairman Cummings began to arbitrate the emotional exchange and Congressman Meadows plea…he mentioned that he had grandchildren of color and that Chairman Cummings was one of his best friends! The Chairman, vigorously, nodded his head in agreement!
I heard, today, that Representatives, Tlaib and Meadows, were seen hugging on the floor of the House of Representatives!
We can disagree without being disagreeable!
Hate and venom and spite and name calling and Gotcha Politics…will never span the Grand Canyon of differences of opinion and severe problems that our great nation has!
I have many friends that are of a different political persuasion that I am…and I love and respect them and, honor, our differences of opinion!
We have a shared humanity that far surpasses our political or religious differences!
I believe in freedom of thought and freedom of speech. I oppose the tyranny of those that are in power, rather a state government or a federal government…or a church or a university….
Liberals as well as Conservatives…often are dogmatic and intrsnsigenient.
For instance, most people want a common sense immigration policy. But, they do not want to see children separated from their parents.
We want our government to keep us safe…but we do not want to be made, more, fearful by…fictional enemies!
I have heard the pleas, on numerous occasions, that when immigration is allowed…the the country that the immigrants are being allowed to immigrate to…is in danger of loosing it’s culture?
Well, first of all, the culture of the United States of America is comprised of peoples and cultures from all over the world!
History has, clearly, illustrated that cultures evolve and morph and change…over time!
I think that we either believe that we are members of the human family…or we ascribe to the tribal and clan theory of separation and division and the placement of nations and peoples and customs on a scale of, those, to be desired ‘shithole countries!’
There is an, rightful, expectation that a country should be open to immigration and refugees….and the immigrants or refugees should endeavor to assimilate into the customs, of their new home, that their faith will allow.
Many of the Jews in, Hitler’s Germany, identified with being German and retained their German identity in the countries that they, subsequently, immigrated to….or a survivors of the Holocaust.
Under our current political administration we proclaim and, rest, our philosophy on making America Great Again…and our, supreme, belief that we must care first for Americans!
Otto Warmbier…was an American…and Kim Jung-un…..fully understood…the condition that he returned Mr. Warmbier to the United States!
We can not have it both ways!
A Lifetime…Or One Long Day?
Mary Jane and I saw many old friends last evening.
Many of our friends we had not seen, more than once or twice, in over thirty years!
We were at the visitation for our dear friends daughter. I can not think of anything that saddened me more, in some time, than the untimely passing of this lovely young lady…and the knowledge of the great chasm that would be left in the hearts of her mom and dad and her husband and, young, son!
As I visited with many of the people that were at the wake…I was transported back to my teenage years, and my twenties. I had spent time in these, wonderful, people’s homes…and they in mine. We had worked alongside each other…and prayed alongside each other.
I knew many of them, long before they were married and had families…and we were still in school and wondering what life had for us?
Barbie and Herb both gave Mary Jane and I a hug…and I wept…as I could not hold back the tears of my sadness at their, profound, loss!
Robbin and Terry, both, came up to us and hugged us and made us feel both welcome and loved! As we were talking…I thought of what precious people that they are!
There was Lori and Sherry and her mom, Kathy, and many more…that caused the years to roll backward…as they were so kind and sweet to us, both!
There was my lifelong buddy, Steve, peeping around the corner…and I was sorry to learn that his sister had passed away…early this morning.
David D. and David B. and I remembered having dinner with David D. and his father and mother and brothers and sisters…and feeling like that I was one of the Dunmyer’s!
David B. is a natural comedian and he is also a minister. As we spoke, I recalled the many laughs that we have enjoyed together.
And, then, my old friend, David Brandon, who has been my buddy since we were both, much, younger! I convinced him, many years ago, to take more naps!
My life has been, seemingly, seamless…when it comes to friends and relationships.
If you were my friend on my first day of first grade, as I recall Janie B. and Debbie C., being so friendly to me and welcoming me…on what for me…was a trepidatious beginning, or if you were my friend in the first church that I attended…time has stood still for me…and you are always important to me and my friend!
I have, often, wondered, if what we mark in; days, and weeks, and months, and years…and a life…is but one long day to to God?
People come into our lives…and for many reasons…do not stay…but they are an, indelible part, of our Life Story…and we are part of…theirs!
Plunging For a Good Cause!
Jonathon and I attended the, Polar Plunge, which raises funds for the Special Olympics, at SIUC.
Having been an employee of the Physical Plant for over 32 years…I still have a great affinity for the organization that afforded me so many opportunities.
I think that the PSO Director, Brad Dillard, is the finest team leader that I have had the opportunity to know…and that, period of time is, now over 40 years!
This year is especially significant to me, as my friend, Elizabeth, who I, initially hired …many years ago….was, once again, participating in the event…even after undergoing, significant challenges, over the past year.
Elizabeth has an indomitable spirit!
I thought that I would get a little closer to the, plunge action, this year and I saw a nice and close spot that was on the edge of the lake.
I noticed that there were several people taking photos on both my left and right…and so I, gingerly, stepped on the large stones…and began to take photos of what is a, perhaps, a minute event. I could hear shouting in the background, and when I looked around a lady, screamed at me to, move!
My apologies to the upset photographer…as it was clear to me that she could not tolerate a giant…even a, stooping one.
Next year I will bring my camera with the zoom!
Peace In A Storm
To be human is to walk in the fog of uncertainty!
No matter how rich or how poor that we are…nothing is promised…nothing is certain…and everything is temporary.
When we are enjoying a fine dinner, as we will be doing tomorrow night in commemoration of Mary Jane’s birthday, I often think that I want to; tie a bow around the experience or take a lot of photos…because challenges and sorrow and grief await us…down a road…that we do not know the length of or the rockiness of the terrain.
When we were both enjoying the height of our careers, my friend, Bill and I, agreed that the proper way to view a management position and success…was to hold both with a loose grasp!
Life is a bit of a maelstrom…and when we refuse to accept this irrefutable fact of our existence…we become depressed and sorrowful for our losses and we believe that no one could be experiencing what we are.
Life is so beautiful and breath taking!
The feel of you wife/husband’s hand in yours when you are married. The mystery and excitement of beginning a life together! The, conviction, that you are prepared for any challenge and are prepared to jump every hurdle.
Looking into your new baby”s eyes…and their looking back at you…with their eyes full of the excitement of…suddenly…being thrust into a world that they have no knowledge of!
The, gradual, realization that God placed you with someone because you both need each other.
The realization that there is a reason that we are here!
The revelation…that this life is only the beginning…it is the, foyer,…and we have not, yet, entered the house that the Creator has for us!
‘For his anger endureth but a moment, in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ Psalm 30:5 KJV
Every now and then…once in awhile…we get a glimpse of the, majestic, beauty of life’s continuance…after death.
‘For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then, shall I know even as also I am known.’ I Corinthians 13:12 KJV
Our head spins from the rapidity of life!
First we are young and our days of childhood and being a teenager…seem to go on forever!
I have been a member of a church, somewhere, since I was twelve years old…and I was a member of the, young people, of the congregation.
My highest aspiration was to become a minister…of which I never did.
I thought that my thirties were great! I was neither young nor old!
I wanted to be able to purchase a larger home for my family and for us to be financially secure.
I wanted my wife and my sons to be happy and to have no worries.
I, turned around, and I was in my forties…and my mom, who suffered with Alzheimers’ disease, lived with us, and Mary Jane quit her job with the university to take care of mom…and Aaron and Jonathon were in college and were so good to help with grandma…
And, then, I opened my eyes…and Building Services was having a fiftieth birthday party for me…compete with black balloons and black icing on the cake!
Mom died in 2013…and I wept!
Illness has struck our family…on more than one occasion…and I wept…and I wept tears of joy when the diagnosis was able to be ameliorated with either medication or surgery.
When we loose loved ones…our hearts bleed…and there is no way to soften the grief…but we will see them again!
Believing The Unbelievable!
I was watching a film on Netflix, last night, that was covering a group of people called the, Flat Earth Society. The documentary is, ‘Behind The Curve.’
The program discussed the rationale that enables people to seek, examples, that support their conspiracy theories.
We hear…what we want to hear!
One of the, primary, leaders of the Flat Earth Society believes that the Earth is a giant dome covered terrarium…and that the sun and moon and the stars and planets are a type of display on the dome.
It is possible to become educated…and it is possible to be mis-educated!
One of the proofs that the Earth is flat, to a leader in the movement, was that he could see Seattle, Washington on the horizon, although his home was a significant distance from Seattle…and his contention that Seattle would be hidden by the curvature of the Earth…if the Earth was round?
Science is merely a means of thinking about a problem or question that requires a solution.
However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that each of us use our, own, thought patterns, and life experiences, and bias and prejudice…to come to a, plausible conclusion, as to what the facts, mean, that are available, to us,…are pointing to.
I have never believed the one shooter theory regarding the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy.
Now, I have read books regarding, alternate assassination theories…and I watched the movie, JFK, and I see every documentary that comes out regarding the subject.
When I see shows or read books that support the Warren Commission’s report or the single shooter theory…I am left cold!
When I watch, JFK, or read about the multiple shooter conspiracy theories or the theory that, vice president Lyndon Johnson something to do with the cutting down of our, young, leader…or the, hypothesis, the Mafia had the hit done…I am enthralled!
There are may similarities in our political divide… as to the immersion in alternate facts and realities…or ‘other truths!’
We have become a nation that has, deified, our political parties!
We have gone from the separation of church and state…to believing that the church is the state…and through the commingling of our secular government and our faith communities…we have become, engulfed, in a thick fog of truth that is the conclusion of our, obfuscation, of the plain christian doctrine that Christ preached, and has been replaced with the, hybrid, belief system that has grown out of mixture of ‘iron and clay’ …as the feet of the statue in Daniel 2:41 43 KJV
We all seek answers that coalesce with our life experiences.
If our life has been, stable and secure and loving…we tend to accept widely accepted, scientific, truths.
If our life has been difficult and shaky and frightening…we tend to accept truths that verify our dismal and suffering experiences.
There is a theory in Quantum Physics that states that all physical objects that we see and touch and encounter, on a daily basis, are but a group of molecules and atoms that our mind assigns meaning to?
Perhaps that is how we have so many…truths?
‘I really do not know what we are waiting on,’ said Bruiser?
‘We are waiting on our humans,’ replied Abigail.
‘I looked for them…a lot…when we first came here, but they never appeared, Bruiser said, with his bottom lip protruding.
‘Wallace has asked about, his mommy, every day that he has been here,’ Abigail said.
‘I know that he is anxious to see his, and our, mommy, but………ball….fetch…run….., Bruiser became distracted!
‘I liked it when mommy scratched my ears,’ Parker chimed in!
‘Parker…you are not a Boston Terrier…and you never will be,’ said Brody, angrily!
‘Grrrr, replied Parker!
‘We adopted Parker into the Boston Terrier family, many years ago,’ Wallace said.
‘Yes…but she bit my legs…and other parts…when I was old and could not defend myself, ‘ remarked Brody!
Mary Jane and Jay could not help but notice the beauty of their surroundings. They were perplexed as to what had happened and, considered, that they might be having a dream…but how were they so, seemingly awake?
‘Hello’…..said a sloth…hanging from a elm tree.
‘Greetings, Mr. Sloth,’ Jay responded.
‘I saw Rolly Bud, earlier today, and he was with Sassy,’ the Sloth slowly and carefully responded.
Mary Jane asked me, where we could possibly be…as she did not recall, sloths speaking, and Rolly Bud, a Boston Terrier, and Sassy, a mutt, had passed away….years ago!
I remembered when my stepfather had passed away, Earl, and we had been driving to the hospital in Evansville, Indiana in the attempt to see him before he died. As I looked over at Mary Jane…she kept uttering the name, Sassy, and and I thought how peculiar as we were attempting to arrive before he left…and she was obsessing about his dog?
When I asked her what she was thinking about, Sassy, she responded that, Earl, had made her promise that she would take, Sassy, in if he died.
Mary Jane understood that the time for Sassy’s adoption had arrived!
Suddenly, Wallace jumped into his mom”s lap!
‘Hi mom,’ Wallace said, ‘where have you been…I have missed you?
‘I was the first…in case you do not remember,’ said Bruiser.
‘Yes, but I came shortly after you and on the day of the beginning of the Gulf War…and I am from Missouri,’ Abigail retorted!
Suddenly a ball was dropped in Mary Jane’s lap…and Brody smiled at her, broadly!
‘I think that it is time for a little fetch…don’t you,’ Brody asked?
When Mary Jane threw the ball…Brody was off like a rocket…and he returned it to his mommy…in record time!
‘I know how to play fetch, as well as anyone, but I prefer to engage in more mature behavior…like belly rubs…said Parker,’ as she became engulfed in the nirvana of a, through belly rub…by dad!
‘Do you think that my hips are to big,’ said Elsa the elephant?
‘No, I think that they fit you perfectly,’ replied Jerry the Giraffe.
‘Where are you going,’ asked Pepie…the skunk?
‘Well, we are new here…and we, really, do not understand where we are…as the last memory we have…we were driving to St. Louis to eat at our favorite restaurant, Cunetto’s’ House of Pasta,’ Jay replied.
‘Many refer to me as Pepie Le Pew…have you seen any of my cartoons,’ asked Pepie?
‘Why yes I have,’ said M.J., but I thought that you were a fictional character?
‘Oh no, mon cherie, I am, quite real,’ and may I say that you have beautiful eyes, Pepie responded.
‘You must hurry, the meeting is about to begin…and Peter does not like to be kept waiting,’ Brody implored!
‘Oh he has a lot of titles…today he is the chief pest and bottle washer…and…really a good guy…if you can get past his demanding nature,’ said Abigail.
‘I remember walking with mommy…and the smells…and the wind blowing in my face…and birds that were just above us in the trees…and how I wanted to meet them,’ said Bruiser.
‘I remember how mommy would scratch my, itching, ears…and I am so happy that they do not itch any longer,’ Parker reminisced.
‘You are almost there,’ a cardinal chirped!
‘Do you remember me,’ inquired the beaver, ‘I lived in your pond and I traveled all over the neighborhood…when I was not building dams.’
‘We loved your’ yard…and we spent many nights enjoying it’s peaceful solitude and your kind welcome,’ announced a herd of deer!
‘Let’s go into the meeting…you are going to like it here,’ said Parker, as she nuzzled us.
‘But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ I Corinthians 2:9 KJV
Not In My Back Yard…..
‘And, Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David, therefore himself calleth him Lord, and whence is he than his son? And the common people heard him gladly. And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, for a presence make long prayers: these shall receive the greater damnation. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and behold how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even her living.’ Mark 12: 35 – 44 KJV
Could it be that we all want to hear about the homeless being helped and fed and clothed and receiving shelter…but not in our neighborhood?
Elder, Jane Swanson, delivered a compelling sermon this morning at our church.
Among the points of her message was the self satisfied belief that we are among the blessed…while the less fortunate are not.
She discussed the tension that surrounds reaching out to the poor and homeless and hungry…that was demonstrated in both the creation of a warming center in Carbondale and a breakfast program that our church is engaged in on Wednesday mornings.
It seems that everyone wants to hear that the poor are being helped…as long as it is not in their line of site?
A homeless woman, who has often attend our church, and who I have spoken to on more than one occasion, and who asked me if I was a rabbi…was standing in front of Schnucks Supermarket. She was looking away from me…so I waited to say hello to her, once, she had turned my way. When we made eye contact I said hi…to which she responded for me, ‘to f— myself!’
I was startled..but I was not offended, as I realized that she probably did not recognize me…or felt threatened.
Talking about helping the homeless and helping the homeless…is two different things. It is not for the faint of heart or thin skinned!
We are comfortable sitting in our church pews among our friends and fellow congregants, of many years, there is no challenge to attending Sunday morning service…and we are not looking for any!
We seek those of our economic strata and similar belief systems…
We proclaim God’s blessings on our lives…as if we have done some good work or deed to have earned our comfortable existence…a point system?
In reality we are the recipients of God’s extreme grace and mercy…and have earned nothing…and could slide into poverty and degradation with, one, or more life reversals!
Do we pray…lengthy prayers to be heard and applauded by men…while our homeless brothers and sisters proclaim…God save me…a sinner!
Winter…In Southern Illinois…Changes Daily!
I love weather!
My son, Jonathon, often comments that I am into weather in all of it’s forms!
One byproduct of global warming is a, continuous, change in weather!
Yesterday it was in the mid 50s’…while today it is in the 20s’…and sleeting and snowing!
The seasons remind me of life!
Truly, the winter makes me think, today, of the loss of my friends… of their young daughter.
Friendship is, extremely, important to me. I have a friend who has undergone some significant health concerns, over the past few months, and I think of her and, my good friend, her husband, daily!
For months we have been wrestling and worrying regarding my wife’s physical condition…and I am grateful that everything has turned out good!
When we are young, and as a tree, full of sap…we feel that this thing called life…will never end…but that would be…believing in a myth!
We should arise from our chairs and hug and kiss the people that we care about and tell them that we love them…and tell them what we love about them!
‘It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.’ is a quote by Winston Churchill…that can be applied to…life!
‘Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before his judgment seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last…’…..C.T. Studd
All to often we live from day to day believing that nothing will change…and our loved ones will be there for our purposes…rather it be….a closer bonding…or an apology…or a reconciliation…or and opportunity to know and understand each other…more fully!
We know that, tomorrow, will be just the day to accomplish the mending of the tears in the net of our relationships. We know that our loved one is just a telephone call away…or, perhaps, is in the next room………
My mom died of Alzheimer’s disease. It was a, long, progressive disease. Her mind had slipped away…before I could, properly, express…my love and appreciation for her!
Do not wait!
I was shocked, last evening, to read on Facebook that two of Mary Jane and my, old friends, had lost their, young, daughter…suddenly.
Our friends, and us…attended church together…over 30 years ago. They are precious and sincere people…the kind of human beings that you are proud to call your friends!
Of course, we were over 30 years younger…as were our friends…who were not married at that time.
Their, wonderful, daughter, who was my Facebook friend, was so lovely and I enjoyed reading her Facebook posts.
When I would see their daughter’s photos…I felt that I knew her…as she resembled both her mom and dad…and I had grown-up with them over many years.
I admired her Facebook posts…and I wished that I had commented on them…as I, often, thought…what a fine young lady…and what, insightful comments that she made…wise beyond her years!
As a youngster, I was a guest in her mother’s home…when she and her sisters were children, as was I, and her parents were so kind to me…and made me feel so welcome!
I worked around our church…with her dad. He was even tempered and considerate…even as a teenager…and I, reflected on what an example of christianity that he was.
I can think of two times that I have spoken with Herb and Barbie…over the past many years. On both occasions they seemed so glad to see me, and on the second time, Mary Jane, as well. The term, ‘salt of the earth,’ was written for them!
I left speaking with them…uplifted and encouraged and grateful for such good…old friends!
Mary Jane and I…grieved last evening…and we are saddened for the, unthinkable loss, that our friends are undergoing.
I think of Manda…and I never met her…but she meant something to me…and I am sorry…
Mary Jane and I will be married 41 years next month!
Time has not only flown by…it seems like it has been just a few days!
We began married life by living in her house trailer…and, in a few months, moved up…to a garage that had been converted into an apartment.
Later, we purchased the house, that the garage/apartment went to…and lived there for 22 years.
Our house had four rooms…and we raised two sons there…and we were a close family!
In 1978, when we married, I was earning $70 per week. I was driving a 1963 Ford Fairlane…with a, sizable hole, in the floor on the passenger side!
I was hired by Southern Illinois University at Carbondale on October 10, 1978. My starting pay was $5.54 per hour…and we thought that we were rich!
I was 43 years old when we moved to Carbondale…to what we still refer to as the new house.
I, often, wonder what couples are looking for or expecting when they marry? Are they searching for someone who is different from them and a unique human being…or are they searching for someone to …clone?
I remember installing wood paneling in our little home, in 1981, when Mary Jane was pregnant with our first son, Aaron.
Now, allow me to explain…I have never been a carpenter…and when I endeavor to do carpentry….or plumbing….or drywall work…or…I tend to utter colorful language…in extreme!
It was Halloween night…and as I struggled to saw and then nail up the, patterned, wood paneling, which was all the rage in 1978, Mary Jane, quietly and patiently climbed over the paneling and saw horses and answered our door to distribute candy to the holiday revelers!
Two…very different personalities…working together…for a common goal!
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch today at a locally owned restaurant, Keepers Quarters, and an adult beverage…and I reflected on what a wonderful and diverse and, many times, challenging….life that we have shared!
We often are talking with each other and agreeing, vigorously, and later discover…that we were agreeing on two different subjects…
Life is work…and married life is having a partner to work on the project with you!
Life brings us, all, reversals and friendships that go astray and work relationships…that evaporate…and illness…but not loneliness…because you have a life partner that gives a damn about you!
Women…do not look for the charming prince…look for the man that is always there to listen to your thoughts and hopes and fears and challenges!
Men…look for the woman that will stand by your side…when you do not deserve it…and who will help you and enjoy living with you…when you do not enjoy living with your self!
Women…seek a man that is not trying to be the, star, of all women’s heart’s, but the, star, of yours!
It boils down to the simple truth that a successful relationship is based on, mutual, trust and being with someone who is not living, primarily, in their head…but is living, often, for their partner.