One Of A Kind

I am looking out at the most significant snow that we have experienced in a number of years in Southern Illinois. Several inches are on the ground, 71/2 inches, and some fantastic snow drifts. Along with the snow…and before that ice that has not had the opportunity to melt…we have bone chilling temperatures. It is currently 12 degrees Fahrenheit but it feels like 3 degrees with the wind chill factored in. This is our 10th day of below freezing temperatures and that is unusual of Little Egypt as our winters have been moderate for many years. For those of us who enjoy the changing of the seasons…we should be ensconced in the glories of winter in all of it’s splendor.

My friend’s photo was on Facebook and the first thought that I had was that he is one of a kind. Have you ever known someone that was extremely interesting due to their unique persona? Some of us are not interested in fitting in with the crowd. We are not motivated with the ‘go along to get along mentality.’ In fact we see the world through a seemingly separate prism than many of our colleagues. We enjoy reflecting on the meaning of it all… We speak truth to power and worry little about the ramifications of our sincere opinions.

Life is meant to be lived in the complexity of it’s simplicity… Indeed those things about our lives exceedingly happy seem to be difficult to grasp when we struggle to blaze a trail through the morass of recognized norms and the ‘hive mentality’ of our friends and family and colleagues. I have lost count of the numerous committees and boards and specialized commissions that I have been a part of…where the invited members struggled to ascertain what the expected response was to the problem that the group had been asked to address and then subsequently plugged into the slot of dutiful and loyal member to what the recognized and accepted loyal committee response…was expected.. New and innovative and ‘out of the box thinking’ is as rare as the biblical gold of Ophir.

My friend, Brad, told me a few years prior to my retirement that he had observed that I liked to shake things up. I was pleased with his observation regarding my purposeful action to endeavor to help others. I never sought to better myself at the University but I vigorously engaged in advocacy for those who have no voice. I am at a loss for words when I observe our politicians who are so afraid of expressing their honest opinion…but instead are satisfied to relegate their service and servitude to our nation….to the political expediency of the moment…and the next election…and the next paycheck…

Abraham Lincoln was one of a kind. He brought his self-educated knowledge to the White House. He loved to spin yarns and stories that he had gathered during his many hard scrabble years during his youth. He drew the difficult lot of a Civil War and his role in preserving the Union of the United States. He gathered his political adversaries to become members of his Cabinet. He was not afraid of those who were ‘One of a Kind!’

President Kennedy came from a privileged background. His family was rich and his father, Joseph Kennedy had been the Ambassador to the Court of St. James. The Kennedy seemed to be kissed with the favor of the gods. But tragedy struck them on several occasions. JFK suffered from Addison’s Disease and was in pain during much of his Presidency. He wore a stiff back brace and almost died on more than one occasion. But…he knew that the United States should not be in Vietnam…and he was going to withdraw from the conflict…but he was assiinated in Dallas, Texas prior to being able to effectuate this vital withdrawal… President Kennedy understood the folly our our ill thought out incursion into Vietnam…sadly he was cut down in his prime before he had the opportunity to save thousands of lives.

Be yourself! Do not be afraid to be you and faithful to what your truth is!

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