Facebook reminded me that a year ago today I had written a blog that was critical of Republican Presidential Candidate Trump’s bigoted rhetoric, including his promise to build a wall.
Now half or more of our Country is shocked that he is the President Elect. I am not.
I began my career at Southern Illinois University as a Building Service Worker I…which is a janitor. I was assigned to the General Accounting building. As a young man of twenty years old I felt that all the people who occupied the office that I was cleaning had important jobs that they had obtained through their higher education.
My predecessor in custodial had done an abysmal job. I began by striving to produce a clean General Accounting building each night.
I asked the Associate Director of General Accounting, about two weeks into my tenure, if he was satisfied with my job performance, and explained that I understood that my work was not nearly as important as the rest of the building’s staff. Associate Director Blaney told me that my work was as valuable as the work that he performed…or maybe more so and told me that without my preparing the cleanliness of the building each night the accountants coming in the next morning would not be able to perform their job duties effectively.
After many years of working within the Building Services department and rising through the ranks, I determined that I wanted to have more of a Global understanding of the University that had been so good to me.
The University was a microcosm of our Country. There were definite classes…of which I was a member of the lowest…the Civil Service Employees.
Through my work associated with the Civil Service Council, which is the elected representative body for employee concerns and ideas for the University Administration, I became acquainted with University leaders; including Chancellors and Presidents.
It became abundantly clear to me that most of the Administration had little or no knowledge of the real concerns in the Civil Service Community. It also became certain to me that when I was speaking with them and they were smiling and shaking their head in mock affirmation to my words…they were giving me the political correct body language for my ‘small…pedestrian requests.’
One Chancellor told me unequivocally that Faculty came first and then Administrative Professional Staff and finally…if there was anything left…Civil Service Staff.
I met and befriended two ‘breaths of fresh air’ in the Chancellor role during my thirty-two years of service. Both of these individuals spoke to me with respect…they really listened…and moved affirmatively on some of my requests. Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger and Dr.Don Beggs sought my counsel…and on University Wide issues.
Believe me when a leader listens to you and respects you and seeks your counsel…you become loyal to that leader.
It is disingenuous and wrong to equivocate the supporters of President Elect Trump as all bigots and misogynist and haters of those who are not like them.
As the adroit Dan Rather put it on a news program this morning, often the States in the middle of the East coast and the West coast are considered ‘fly over’ in political importance to the Presidential Candidates.
So, it is noted that Businessman Trump customarily walked the construction site of his buildings and stopped to talk with the workers and sought their ideas and valued their counsel…and showed them the respect of their knowledge of their craft.
President Elect Trump made that same connection with millions of hard working…intelligent…and exhausted people…who are often working two or three jobs to put something on the table and pay their bills.
I began my career as someone who was thought of as a ‘job description’ and not a person. I set about and actively sought to understand the Academic Community and to break through the ‘wall of academic elite’ to benefit my group.
It is vital that all people of good will seek to not hate and define each other by a simplistic group name…but rather with the respect of their intelligence…their humanity…and our shared struggle for fairness and equality of human rights.