September is well planted with 7 days in. Our weather can not decide if it wants to be cool and crisp autumn… or fight to retain the warmth of summer. Leaves are already changing on Campus. Our next holiday is my birthday…at least in my mind. As I strolled the walkways of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale this morning I thought of the untold ways that our University helps our entire Southern Illinois region…and how we suffer when SIUC…suffers.
Hamlets and villages best describe Little Egypt. During my travels across our country and in Europe…I am often asked where I am from. When I say Illinois the response is immediate in that almost all say, ‘Chicago?, and I answer that I am from Southern Illinois and that we are much closer to St. Louis, Missouri rather than Chicago. Many of our little towns replaced their closed businesses with antique stores…20 years ago. Families with children live on poverty wages and count on their ability to eat with the assistance of government subsidies. Little Egypt is a beautiful place to live…but a hard place to make a living.
Our Pandemic has left economic devastation in its wake. It has affected everything from church attendance to restaurants that have been able to remain open. There are affluent people in our area and people who are homeless…but the great majority of families live from paycheck to paycheck…and if there is a $400 emergency…they do not have the money. It has been said that assistance is not necessary and promotes laziness of the underprivileged. Many people that I know work 2 and often 3 jobs to make ends meet. While others have great difficulty in finding and securing jobs for many reasons. Many of our wonderful young people can not survive on the minimum wage pay that they receive. Perhaps if we paid people a living wage…we would not have so many job vacancies?
Southern Illinois University is the economic engine that propels our region. Carbondale has turned into a mirror image of many of our little towns and hamlets and villages. This is why I was so pleased to see the enrollment bleeding slowed to a trickle. We need a vibrant University like we need air to breath and water to drink.
Joy you carry with you. Contentment is a daily garment. Peace flows from your soul…outward. September causes me to reflect on happiness. Life is replete with the rollercoaster vagaries of human existence. It is a bit like playing roulette or the slots…or following the Stock Market….it produces a lot of mountain tops…and more than its share of valleys. You are young and then you turn around and you are middle age…and then with one more turn…you are old. You may think as the African parking garage attendant asked me in Philadelphia when I was upset with his request that I leave my car window down, ‘What you crying about Mon?’