Light in the Midst of Darkness

‘Stephen Jones, a homeless man who was outside the Manchester Arena when Monday’s deadly attack took place, is being hailed as a hero after he helped the wounded as they fled the scene,’ according to CNN.

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‘We are human, we still have a heart, we still have the instinct to help people out that need help and that’s what we are doing.  And obviously when we are seeing children like that, with blood and , pulling nails out of their arms and stuff, and there were a couple in a girl’s face,’ Jones said.

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So, we see the magnificent triumph of the human spirit in Mr. Jones as he rushed to the aid of the suffering children coming out of the Manchester Stadium.

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I have heard it said that many of the young people that turn to terrorism come from poor living conditions…and disenfranchised lives.  Also, that many perpetrators of terrorist acts…are not overtly religious until shortly before they commit to the heinous deed.

Homelessness…want…pain…suffering…having the door of opportunity slammed in your face…affects different people in different ways.

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If we do not begin to exam the root of what causes people who were not especially religious…to adopt a deadly cause of killing the innocent…and consequently call it religion, we will never begin to solve this increasingly deadly plague on our world.

To blame the Cancer of Terrorism on the ancient religion of Islam is ignorance.

To begin to exam our Society’s Structures…where some are treated well,  while others are shunted aside and forgotten…would be a worthy beginning for unraveling the problem.

How often do we walk around the homeless, or avert our eyes, and assure ourselves that their must be a good reason why the person is in the shape that they are in.

We praise the CEO and place the mantel of wisdom on the Billionaire.  Certainly they must be wise and benevolent and good…after all they are a Billionaire!

We elected a Billionaire a few months ago in the United States.  The people that elected him are often some of the poorer in our Country.  The President, when he was campaigning, promised that he would help his supporters and lift them up and give them jobs.

The President’s Budget, ‘cuts deeply into medicaid and anti-poverty efforts,’ according to the New York Times.

Mary Jane and I deliver Meals On Wheels each month.  The Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, responded to a question by a reporter as to why Meals On Wheels is being cut, ‘that it had not delivered the results that it was supposed to.’

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The Normalization of Evil

The author Hannah Arendt wrote, ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil.’  Arendt said, ‘The essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.’

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Ms. Arendt, in describing Adolf Eichman said, ‘What he said was always the same, expressed in the same words.  The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected to an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else.  No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.’

Arendt refers to the alternate facts of the Nazis, as ‘holes of oblivion.’  She states, ‘The holes of oblivion do not exist.  Nothing human is that perfect, and there are simply too many people in the world to make oblivion possible.  One man will always be left alive to tell the story.’

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Last evening…the unthinkable happened when a suicide bomber detonated his bomb in the midst of Manchester, England’s Stadium…among many children attending a Ariana Grande Concert.  Twenty-two people are reported dead and 60 injured.

Although I have not been to Manchester, I have traveled throughout the United Kingdom.  The British are lovely, kind, and compassionate people.

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Each time one of these heinous acts occur…we immediately search of a reason or a rationale or a motive for such utterly senseless slaughter.  The clear truth is that there is no logical rationale for this totally heartbreaking…evil…act.

Once again…Evil has slipped in to the midst of the Human Family…looking nondescript and mundane and not worthy of attention…and wrought destruction.

All people of good will must seek to unite and communicate and help each other…now more than ever.

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1   KJV

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The Slowest of Seasons

Please enjoy another great Jonathon Brooks’ Blog.

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The season of summer has always seemed like the slowest time of the year. As a boy there was no school. As an adult, I work for a college university, again school is out for many. Work marches on. Yet I feel that summer is the laziest of seasons. For this I love it.

A slow pace doesn’t equal a bad pace or boredom. In American culture the pace is often rush and then rush and then rush some more. We want what we want and we want it right now. No, actually we wanted it five minutes ago! I find this to be unhealthy. It’s good to slow down, look around, wonder, enjoy life and take to heart all the beauty of day to day life.

This summer take the time to read books, go on walks, have a glass of iced tea or a pint of  beer on…

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A lovely heartfelt writing from, Joy.

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Keep watch dear Lord

With those who wake or watch or weep,

And give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend the sick, give rest to the weary,

Sustain the dying, calm the suffering and pity the distressed;

All for your love’s sake O Christ our Redeemer.

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The Peacefull Simplicity of the Long Playing Album

When I was a lad I received a record player for my birthday.  This lovely gift called for my joining Columbia Record Club, where I purchased an LP each month.  One of the first was ‘Sonny and Cher – Good times.’

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I spent many hours listening to all types of music, including, Andy Williams, Hermans Hermits, and Frank Sinatra.  My record player and my reel to reel tape recorder gave me immeasurable pleasure and a steady diet of my musical interests.

In the 1980s I took a Classical Music Appreciation Course at SIU.  Prior to that time, I had little appreciation for classical music…after the Course…I could listen to it for hours on end.

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Somewhere in the 90’s I discovered Jazz.  Mary Jane and I visited Portland, Oregon during these years…and there was Jazz on the radio and live shows all over town.

We attended a Jazz Aficionado live show…which was almost all Scat singing.  For those of you that are not familiar with Scat…it is the singer’s improvisation of vocalizing what the music sounds like to them.  Most of the audience members were so into the Jazz Riffs…that they were in Nirvana…they had their eyes shut…and their heads bobbing with the time of the music…and their fingers snapping to the rhythm.

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We attended a famous Jazz Band’s performance at Biddle’s Jazz and Ribs in Montreal, Canada.  This was fantastic music!  A member of the ensemble came to set with Mary Jane and I and visit during their breaks.  We absorbed a lot of inside information.

Jonathon and Aaron purchased me an early birthday gift.  A portable record player with a Guardians of the Galaxy II theme.  We saw the movie on Saturday and I received the record player on Sunday.  I already had purchased two, gently used, LP’s.  One being a set of four records encompassing all of Beethoven’s Symphonies and the other being Judy Garland Live.

The record player has a great sound coming out of two small speakers…and I am transformed to my youth.

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Life is really about perspective.  It morphs and alters much like a Kaleidoscope reveals a multitude of colors according to how the light is refracted through it.

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Music reveals life to us aurally.  The diverse forms and shapes and tones that it presents to us…alters our emotions…our views of our surroundings and our lives.

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Family

Last Sunday we had a lovely Mother’s Day Outing, including a great dinner and a little shopping.  All was well and we were grateful for each others company.  I really did not think of those who have less than I or of those who were suffering on what should be a happy day.

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Mary Jane and I have been delivering Meals on Wheels for a little over three years.  Usually I do the driving and she goes up to the door with the meals.  Today, however, I needed to assist her due to there being additional items to carry.  When I saw the physical condition of some of the Meal Recipients I was saddened.  Some with terribly swollen feet and legs…blackened skin.  Others with Neuromuscular disorders…and yet so friendly and grateful for our bringing them their lunch.

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During our visit to Edinburgh, Scotland, last July, we saw a comedian who’s show was based on his suffering from Depression.  Some of the content was extremely dark.  And, yet, I had an admiration for this gentleman…and his valiant battle to rage against the darkness.

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I have known and been friends with many wonderful people…who have throughout their lives had very little material possessions.  Not because they were lazy or unambitious…they were indeed hard workers.  Many of these people are serious dedicated Christians.

We are taught, that if we care for our family…our children and our spouse…we are good people.

Is our nuclear family…our blood relatives…the only family that we need worry about?

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“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”   John 15:12   KJV

When we choose to shut our eyes to the suffering of our fellow human family members…in the secure knowledge…but for the grace of God go I…do we not realize that God has grace for the person that we are comparing ourselves to?

It seems that it is somewhat in our nature to compare our lot in life with those who are less fortunate?

God’s ‘Human Experiment’ goes by quickly…or as the Bible says…’My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.’   Job 7:6   KJV

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So we spend our days worrying about acquiring more money, although I read to day that, ‘money is numbers and numbers are infinite…thus we never have enough.’

Or, we Americans seek our right as outlined in the Declaration of Independence…for ‘The Pursuit of Happiness.’

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A homeless woman shook my hand at church recently…and she looked at me and smiled…I felt peace and contentment…and happiness.

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Mother’s Day

Yesterday Aaron, Jonathon, and I celebrated Mother’s Day with their sweet Mother, Mary Jane.

Mary Jane is truly an outstanding Mom!  Her love for her children and her unfailing concern for them is something that I have admired throughout their lives.

IMG_2350 2She is indeed responsible for raising two outstanding gentlemen.  Both Aaron and Jonathon are well mannered, well educated, and well rounded as human beings.  Their Mom was instrumental in this development.

When I first met Mary Jane she and I were attending the same church, and she was the teacher in the church school.  I watched her as she so patiently and faithfully taught the children that were enrolled in the school.

Later, after our marriage, Mary Jane decided that she would Home School Aaron and Jonathon in order for me to have quality time with them.  You see, I had just been promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Building Services at Southern Illinois University…and it was an evening and night appointment.  We understood that I would have the later hour work duties…possibly for the remainder of my career.

Mary Jane’s diligence and careful, thorough, academic instruction of our sons…was beautiful to behold.  They have grown up to be perhaps the first of my family tree to hold University degrees.

IMG_2366 3My Mother was a lovely person.  If she had two dollars…and you were in need…she would give you one of them.

She and my father divorced when I was five years old.  She was devastated.  However, she pulled herself up off the floor and began taking adult education classes to be a photographer.  I am sure this must be where I get my love for photography!

Mom was one of the most compassionate people that I ever knew.  She had empathy for anyone that was suffering.  The times that she has helped someone financially, in secret, are innumerable.

She and my father were married right after the WWII.  They had migrated from Southern Illinois to Chicago…for work.  For a time we lived the life of ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ idyllic bliss.  She was a strong woman…that refused to be defeated.  Much of my personality and outlook on my fellow man…came from my Mom.

I am fascinated by what women can accomplish!  I believe that there is nothing that a strong woman cannot accomplish…and often better than a man!

I have recently become close with my brother, Brock, and his lovely family.  I now realize that wonderful blessings came from my Dad’s life after me and Mom.

Also, my sister Billie and I have visited and are planning on doing so again, next month.  She is a wonderful person.

I also have other brothers and sisters that I hope to meet and get to know in the future.  We have spoken on the phone…and texted…and messaged…and they have a place in my heart.

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Through the Looking Glass

Earlier this week FBI Director, James Comey, was terminated by President Trump.  Mr. Comey was in Los Angles addressing FBI employees when televisions in the back of the room announced that the he had been fired.

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The evening of May 9 several of the President’s surrogates were dispatched to explain that the President was simply responding to a letter from the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, that sited Mr. Comey’s public discourse, last summer, regarding the investigation into Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server.  The surrogates contended that this was the reason for Mr. Comey’s termination.

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Candidate Trump praised Mr. Comey’s pubic statements regarding his Presidential Opponents’ investigation…numerous times during the Election Cycle.

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein threatened to resign, due to the President placing the blame on him for Comey’e firing.

On May 11 NBC’s Lester Holt interviewed President Trump.  The President said that Comey was, ‘a showboat…a grandstander,’ he later said to Lester Holt, “He [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy, The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him.  He made a recommendation.  But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.  Knowing there was no good time to do it!  And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

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This morning, the President tweeted, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

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So, the President fired the head of the FBI in the midst of its’ investigations into Russia’s influence into our last Presidential Election.  Russia favored him and worked to defeat Hillary Clinton.

Director Comey stated in his last appearance before Congress that he felt slightly nauseated when he thought about the possibility that he may have influenced the last Presidential Election in favor of President Trump.

Former Director Comey had, within the past few days, requested additional resources in the Russia investigation.

During a dinner, that President Trump requested with FBI Director Comey, according to Comey, asked for his loyalty.  Comey replied that he had pledged his loyalty, through his oath of office, to the Constitution of the United States.

The day after former FBI Director James Comey’s termination…the Russian Ambassador visited President Trump in the Oval Office…with only the Russian Official News Agency TASS,,,invited to record the event.

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In Search of A Man or Woman for all Seasons

The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees met for several hours in closed session last evening to discuss the qualities that they were looking for in the next Chancellor of SIUC.  They were scheduled to select a Chancellor, chosen from a National Search, but chose instead to personally interview the three finalist, in June, along with two more candidates…if they are still interested.

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Our beloved University has been experiencing an identity crisis for the past twenty years.

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Dr. Delyte Morris came to Southern Illinois Normal University in 1948.  Dr. Morris tenure as President of Southern Illinois University was 23 years.  He, through his visionary leadership, built SIU Carbondale into an internationally recognized University with both a Law and Medical School.  He is also responsible for the creation of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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Through his tireless efforts and the support of both sides of the legislative aisle and strong Board of Trustees support; he created a brilliant jewel in the midst of farm and coal country and poor hard working people.

I came to SIU in 1978, and my colleagues still talked of President Morris on a daily basis…so great was his influence on them.  This was a man that treated the janitor as a valued colleague.

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The next time I witnessed this spark of excitement and belief in the potential greatness of SIU was in the mid 90’s when Dr. Don Beggs was named Chancellor of the Campus for a two year term.  Many of us begged and pleaded with the then President of the System, to allow Chancellor Beggs to continue as our leader.  He ignored our request.fullsizerender

Subsequently, Dr.  Jo Ann Argersinger was chosen as Chancellor of the Carbondale Campus.  The excitement and energy surrounding Chancellor Argersinger’s leadership was palpable.  I said of her short time in office, that she had caused us to dream again.  Chancellor Argersinger was terminated in under a year.

Beggs and Argersinger were visionary leaders that were not afforded the opportunity of time, to turn the Carbondale Campus around.

Now we are on our ninth Chancellor since Dr. Argersinger…someone is going to have to be given the luxury and necessity of time…to address the massive problems facing the Carbondale Campus.

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As the old saying goes, ‘hindsight is 20/20.’  Can we learn from our past…and commit ourselves to a leader…who can demonstrate visionary leadership…through the same method that Delyte Morris did…hard dedicate work + Board of Trustees support + legislative support = success over time.

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The necessary finance for Higher Education = support for Higher Education.

Campus Lake Renewed

Today, I took in the splendor of Southern Illinois University’s ‘Renewed Campus Lake.’  You may recall that for several months the Lake has been dry, overall, due to removing the water to facilitate the removal of toxic algae.  The torrential rain that Southern Illinois received last weekend has re-filled the scenic body of water and even to overflowing its’ banks.

IMG_2137 2IMG_2138SIU is not only distinct in its’ outstanding Academic Disciplines that it offers, but it is located on one of the most beautiful, natural, physical locations, in the United States.

IMG_2141 5IMG_2174As I walked around Campus today…I was again heartened to see so many Tours being conducted by our wonderful students.  The wide eyed wonderment of not only the prospective students but also their parents always give me a thrill!

IMG_2146 2SIU is truly indescribable in its’ beauty and its’ unique history…and its’ vision for opportunity, for all!

IMG_2151 2Soon, we will choose our new Chancellor…let us pick a person who has a love for the particularly remarkable University that SIU is and the one of its’ kind location that it is planted in.

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