The Struggle

I was in Morris Library today and was once again inspired by the large brass bust of our former president, Abraham Lincoln, with his Saluki face mask adoring his countenance.    

IMG_8901I was heartened to see all of the Grounds workers manicuring our lovely campus and preparing it for the beginning of the fall semester.  Indeed this is the beginning of an academic year like none of us have ever seen!  Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale affords a cornucopia of opportunity…even in the midst of our 2020 pandemic!  

So much of our lives, and our economic certainties, are balanced like the sword of Damocles over our head…with one breeze or wrong move having the potential of causing devastation.  I heard on the radio this morning that it is estimated that 16 million Hospitality industry employees will permanently loose their jobs, and that 93% of independently owned restaurants will permanently go out of business.  

 

SIUC has the unique role of being our premier higher education institution and our primary employer in Southern Illinois.  In recent months Macy’s department store, that was in our University Mall, has shut it’s doors and JC Penny’s is currently  having a going our of business sale!  This leaves no department stores in Carbondale…which is a university town.  At the time of this writing the $600 per week unemployment insurance provided by the federal government has expired…leaving millions of pandemic displaced workers immediately subject to eviction and food insecureity!  Topping off all of this bleak news is the fact that in my county the occurrence of positive cases of Covid-19 are at such a level that we have been put on a warning list by the state of Illinois.  Dr. Deborah Birks, who heads up the president’s Coronavirus task force, says that the virus is worse now across the country than it was in the spring…  It is estimated that the United States will reach 180 million deaths by the end of the month!  And…this is the month when our children return to school…

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We are in the midst of a frightening time.  We are in the midst of a time that requires a well thought out plan by our federal government rather than nonsensical platitudes or as Marie Antoinette said, ‘Let them eat cake!’  If we do not adhere to what the science tells us…we are doomed to struggle our way in the kingdom of the blind…seeking someone who can see…

IMG_9154Some politicians have said that it is better to allow the elderly to die in order to preserve our way of life…how is that working out for you?  

If life is not our paramount concern…we are diminishing our humanity and killing ourselves and our loved ones through our tribal allegiances.  Perhaps our supreme dedication to hoarding our resources and looking down on our brothers and sisters who have little to no finances…has caused the chickens to come home to roost?  For most of my life I have witnessed the value that society places on the acquiring of riches.  When someone becomes rich we assume that they are to be emulated and that they are wise and that we must be doing something wrong if we are not as rich as our neighbor?  Some religious sects have taken this dogma a step further and preached that Jesus wants his children to be rich!  Thus if you are not on the road to financial plenty…you are either not a child of God…or you are not following the formula for christian success…  We have lost community…we have become hardened and callous…or as some politicians tell us…many of our restaurant workers  will have to learn new skills…

IMG_7614I discovered at the beginning of my career at SIUC that my leadership of the Building Services department would be based on one principle…treat everyone like I wanted to be treated and the work product would take care of itself!  

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