America on a New Route of Rude?:: Rude, Crude, and Inhumane!?

Hello Chicago and hello America!

What is going on with our attitudes? Sure it is admitted that no human being is perfect in any way – be it behaviorally, physically, morally or spiritually. But we sure need to at least try to improve our behaviors towards others and in the presence of others.

Now my view of behavior and the science of it is that our reactions towards others begin with how we view ourselves and our environment and how environmental factors of all kinds have affected us.

My goodness, what a spit of rude behavior I have seen and experienced lately! We tend to misjudge and sadly prejudge others before we know the facts or the circumstances of situations we see or hear about. The so – called “news” does not help our tendencies to be so fast and thus to act before we think – such as been a shortcoming of our “progressive” technological world. But it is still rude to do many things and to act before thinking. Acting means any kind outward manifestation of thought here – speaking, shouting, gesturing, traveling, etc.

Just some of the examples I have seen of how rude Americans can be include:

Reprimanding someone when the reprimander did not know the rest of the situation (happened in a grocery store and the nasty reprimanding person was way out of line and did not know the rest of the circumstances);
Interrupting someone when they are serving another customer;
Cutting another driver off on Interstate 88;
Wearing caps at the dining table (I have seen at least three guys – I will not call them gentlemen – do this in the past week);

Now there are situations I have not experience but have heard of that indicate just how rude and crude Americans are becoming, such as:

Abuse of others for any reason;
Teasing and making ethnic or other manner of jokes (some people do not consider funny what others consider as funny or “just having fun”);
Smoking within the entrance of a store or apartment complex where non-smokers have to walk;
Mistreatment of animals;
Stepping on the feet of others and not saying excuse me or I am sorry;
Pushing others into a subway car and shoving other passengers out of their way (arrogance, prideful and shameful behavior that has no consideration for the others on board);
Littering (even when a garbage can is within a few feet);
Not cleaning up after pets;
Stealing money from one’s company;
Interrupting in a senate or parliamentary procedure situation, and so many more!

I admit no one is immune to some eruptions of unusual or bad behavior but I am attempting to improve, and pledge so to do. If we all do that, pledge to improve our behavior towards others by a small percentage or by giving a few more seconds’ thought to a situation before we impose any kind of action on another person or on the situation, we will be better people and have a nicer nation.

Divi Logan. Chicago. 2015.

Veterans Need the Best We Can Offer: Chicago HAVE For All Military Personnel

Chicago Needs to HAVE Veterans In Our Hearts All the Time

There are many men and women who have served our nation in uniforms of the military branches of our great United States. They have enlisted and signed the papers, put on the faces and marched through the mud. They have seen international tours of duty and they have seen service right here at home.

Speak Up, America! Watch US Work.

Remembering America’s veterans.

Home… a word that does not ring with many of those proud people, since they do not have a home to go to. Yes, there are homeless veterans… HOMELESS… the very people who have given so much, who have sacrificed and labored and been through obstacle after obstacle, to protect the homes we go to every day, do not have a home of their own to step into.

That is disgraceful.

Yes the Veteran’s Administration (VA) system is seeing its share of dishonorable behavior and wasteful disgraces, but to think that a veteran or any military member is homeless is a major stain on our nation and a pustule on our society. These are people with medical problems due to their tours of duty, and that to which they have been exposed, such as gunfire, diseases, shelling, shell shock, PTSD, and loss of limbs. They have been sick for us, been maimed for us, and been tossed aside by us.

Something has to change, and such changes cannot wait for politics or elections. Those in office, those who command and lead and order around those veterans must step up, just like those folks did in lines of rank or to police an area of their base. They wanted things to look better, they wanted freedom, they wanted health and well being, and they were willing to sign on and give their lives and legs and hands and arms for those privileges.

Do we arrogantly stand by and wait for a new mayor or new senators or a new president to be elected before we bother to look at the endurances these proud people have made for the rest of our nation and around the world? They cannot wait for the influential, the rich, the government that hired and ordered them about, to step up.

Every veteran and their families should have a home and work that is fitting to their talents and needs. Every man and woman should have a house they can call their own, a space that suits them. If the vet has lost a limb, build them a home that will accommodate their special needs. If they are sick, give them the best care a reformed VA system can provide.

HAVE is an idea I thought of while listening to excerpts of Mayor Emanuel’s inauguration speech recently, and the acronym means Home All Veterans Everywhere.

After all, we have homes; we have spaces all our own we can go to after work and play and worship and trips to the grocery and the mechanic, so why don’t these veterans have a home?

It is going to take a lot more than dropping a buck or two in the shaking cup of a homeless vet crouched at the side of a street under a light post, or holding a sign as he strains to sit up in his wheelchair; it is going to take elbow grease action, grassroots efforts, caring and tender and loving people who deeply understand that these are their fellow citizens and neighbors.

Treat them with respect. They deserve it.

America's flag flies proudly.America's flag flies proudly.

Bless our veterans, love our veterans, take care of our veterans, home our veterans.

Divi Logan. Chicago, on this Memorial Day 2015.

Chicago Neighborhoods: Constructive, Corrosive, Communicative?

I. INTRODUCTION

Election Day in Chicago, and the candidates are out there. What are some of the topics on which they speak and on which they attempt to cater to the voters? There are the usual issues of taxes, TIFF’s, having an elected school board, transportation, the roads and bridges, and business. There is another issue that crops up in their ads: the neighborhoods.

It seems that the word “diversity” is a new concept to people of modern America, but it was not news to me when growing up in Nashville. There was not even a need to mention the word, as some kind of cajoling to get me to think of others who were different, to think of others in terms of some kind of census related terminology, or to see others for what I could get out of them for statistics, tax dollars, business funding, etc.

II. NASHVILLE NO – BOUNDARIES

The area of town I grew up in was about as low – crime as a part of a major city can be. There was no need to even think of anything dangerous happening. Police patrols were regular and it was good to see them, but they were just doing their jobs, that I knew. I just watched and went on with activities. Everyone kept their homes maintained and their yards neat, their lawns mowed, their mailboxes painted, and their noise levels down. There were no shootings, none of the “if it bleeds it leads” junk on the news networks that plagues us these days, and no talk of drugs around the area that would cause us to be on the watch for dealers/ pushers, and certainly no mention of gangs such as make parts of Chicago notable in the national scene for violence.

Not at all; our part of town was quiet, comfortable, and about as “diverse” as can be. I went to school with children who, thank goodness, did not all look like me or speak as I did, or dress as I did. They were interesting and different and my classmates and my teachers, pure and simple. We were there to learn, to play together, to interact on projects and to come and to go every week. We had no need for uniforms; we were there to do what students do – no metal detectors or security guards or metal bars needed, thank you. They might have been around but I had no need to take such heavy notice of them. I felt safe and that is what mattered to me and my parents.

The same applied to the churches I attended: it was a church, and everyone was welcome. Everyone sang, participated in Sunday School, baptisms, christenings, parties, etc. We came and went, one and all worshippers of the same God. The message was the same and we understood it.

People were people in my eyes and for my folks, who worked around the doctors and nurses and staffs of at least three major local hospitals as their careers progressed. They saw every patient, everyone who needed help, no matter who they were. I was fortunate to interact with the brilliant people who were friends of my parents, who came to our home and to whose homes we went. Compared to how people think today, my folks were ahead of the time in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and thank goodness I was not subjected to the terrible talk of what separates whom from whom and what this means to “the government statisticians” and the Census Bureau.

I traveled after high school for international vacations and the world broadened. Because I had not been so mentally restricted early in life, I had an open mind to these exotic cultures and languages, foods and attire and jewelry and histories that greeted me like the pages of an open book coming to life. I was not worried about it at all, the influence of these diverse and amazing cultures on my mind and spirit. Gone were thoughts of being separated by some imaginary line that ended at a certain street or city limit or ethnic boundary. Travel and the benefits that came with doing that made my world a better place. It was grand – the world became my neighborhood

It was marvelous.

Then I moved to Chicago…

III. CHICAGO: SIDES, DISTRICTS, and… NEIGHBORHOODS

Those candidates we will consider in this election today have spoken to and berated each other on their work with and in and their experiences with and funding of Chicago neighborhoods. They talk about how safe or unsafe “their neighborhoods” are; they talk about the closings of schools, the disrepair of roads, the lack of or the concentration of development for residences and businesses. They talk about diversity… not about unity.

We need a mayor who will break down those barriers and remove the roadblocks to progress, a friendly and open –  minded mayor and the aldermen who will work with him. As Shakespeare might put it, we need someone who will “dispel these inconveniences”, which is part of a speech from the play Henry V, when, towards the end, King Henry and Princess Katharine are listening to the Duke of Burgundy speak on restoring peace.

Our mayoral candidates might have a lot of money and influence and power when the cameras are around for campaign photo opps, but they seem to forget something, that Chicago is and always has been a diverse city, and always will be.

From its inception to right now, Chicago is made up of people who interact every day with others who do not look or talk or speak as they do, people who need help and who give help and who are glad to help in their lines of work, every day. These are the retailers, the first responders, the doctors and nurses and administrators, the airport ticket agents, the airline crews, the television studio camera operators, the bus drivers, and the furniture salespeople.

Diversity is nothing new, and we just need to leave off this census -oriented thinking and make progress. Interaction is easier when we just simply treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Represent yourself as a person, a special human being, an American citizen, plain and simple; represent yourself as someone who is one of those people out there to help and to work with everyone. Close down the prejudices, and bless yourself with the qualities of peace.

We just need to do that.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Chicago Begins a New Year: Is it Time for Meditation rather than Mediation… or Both?

Good and Happy New Year greetings to everyone in America’s third largest city!

Hello to all who are right now at home watching football, eating dinner, getting ready for work, or sitting at their computers doing work.

Everyone, it is 2015, and it is time to begin thinking and acting differently – those resolutions we make should mean more than that on which they are written hastily. A resolution is a plan, something you make up your mind to do and for a reason.

You are obese so you resolve to exercise and lose weight. You did not finish high school so you resolve to get your education equivalent and then maybe get a job. Perhaps you just turned sixteen and want to learn to drive, so you make up your mind to enroll in drivers’ education.

Maybe we can all add something important to our list of plans, the art of meditation. Now it is known that meditation is useful for calming our minds and bodies, reducing stress and sickness and bringing inner peace. It is an extension of the space we need to think, but we do not need to go into our rooms and light a candle or incense to practice meditation.

We can meditate – think on our actions – quickly and effectively, but we need to have calm minds in order to do that. We must stop thinking and acting harshly and rashly towards others – that must be an immediate resolution, for everyone deserves respect. We can think before we act, an essential element of getting along in society.

It is time to take the fine art of personal responsibility seriously, no doubt about it. We must learn to stand back, to consider everything carefully and closely and then act. It is simply the will to or the will not to do something or say something.

We in Chicago have grand and brilliant ideas, we have plans and resolutions, hopes and dreams and at every level in every social strata and on every scale.

Let us work well together, let us show love and compassion, and let us be the best we can be every day.

How will you make a difference in 2015?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The Best Shine for the Classics

WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST, GO SEE THEM PLAY!

Yesterday’s performance at Symphony Center was stellar in its nature and character and its cast: the greatest and grandest orchestra in the world, our very own Chicago Symphony.

The performance began with Haydn’s Symphony Number 93 in D Major, holding everyone rapt from the opening notes. Certainly every section of the orchestra had the opportunity to shine, and here in the piece’s four brilliant movements, as in every piece that followed, the woodwinds and brass gave out a “megawatt” show. Maestro Honeck gratefully acknowledged the soloists and others who gave out efforts that caused the mind to soar and the soul to lose every ounce of stress and open up to what can happen when years of practice and hard work and diligence come together for this performance.

Next came Strauss’s Don Juan, which in only a few minutes had the power to engender in the classical imagination visions of a man of adventure and excitement, of love and loss, of struggle and of dying… but still making a last effort to survive in a chaotic and confusing world. Even were one not to know the stories of Don Juan, this marvelously structured piece had the most incredible way of bringing up in the heart, soul and spirit the rounds we face daily whether at work or at home or traveling or at play. We have our star – like brass moments, our high flight woodwind moments, our beating times of kettle drums and the ringing of percussion and timpani summoning us to higher and greater achievements.

At the end of this piece as he had with the first and would with the last, the conductor singled out the horn section, the principal flute first followed by others of the winds, and the principal members of the string section, each one humbled to be given this honor in the presence of an appreciative audience resounding with (a few whistles and occasional cries of “Bravo”!). Most though let applause stand for the vehicle of showing their admiration.

After intermission, when all patrons were seated and the orchestra finished its tuning, and Maestro Honeck mounted the podium, our superior CSO launched into the stirring notes of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7 in A Major, Opus 92.

The maestro put me at times in mind of a major – league pitcher winding up and sending a high – speed ball straight towards a franchise batter, or at other times a sporty performance manager encouraging and directing his team towards higher and grander musical discussions. Even at other times the maestro seemed to dance across that small square of dais, hopping around and gesturing and lifting his baton as though about to imitate the best batter in all of baseball in hitting a homer out of the ballpark. Soaring on and up as though they were one single towering home run, the dozens of fabulous musicians in their uniforms of black, the members of our orchestra returned those fastballs in a “right back at you” way that held everyone in suspense and thrill and some on the edges of their seats, waiting for each volley and play, each call and response. Onward the brass section mounted, the woodwinds and the basses measuring them at every step, and the rest of the strings held valiantly with the basses, keeping things moving until the last notes of the fourth movement had settled upwards into the high ceiling of the auditorium.

Four curtain calls later, my companion and I exited through the doors of the lower balcony, listening to patrons describe this show as a powerhouse, as the best, and at other times letting reverent silence and expressions mirroring the privilege and honor of being in the presence of the best musicians in the world. Any time you are able, purchase a ticket and go see a performance.

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony- a magical, inspiring work to be enjoyed by every person in every age group and all over the world. Let this wondrous work fill you with the majesty of classical music today.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Restaurant Hygiene and Cleanliness: Restaurants Can Improve Conditions to Maintain Happier Customers

RESTAURANTS NEED HYGIENE HELP

Safety is everyone's job. If you are in doubt, ask questions.

Safety is everyone’s job. If you are in doubt, ask questions.

If there is one thing I cannot stand to see in a restaurant it is the serving staff handling those filthy rags and cleaning the tables and seats. At many Chicago restaurants I see the bussers wipe the table top, the actual dining surface, with a rag they have taken out of an apron pocket, a dirty apron at that, with hands that most likely have touched a bin full of dirty dishes and then that same rag dozens of times, and then the cleaners will wipe the seats, and then sometimes wipe the tabletop AGAIN before twirling the rag casually like they are showing off or something, and then go off to do something else.

Just don’t let that same busser bring you any lemons or limes or anything else to garnish your drink. And watch out for the basket of bread and crackers- who is bringing it to you? When do you think was the last time they washed their hands?

Order first then wash your hands; you have probably received a menu that is sticky or has some little food pieces or is wet. I order first and then wash my hands. I am also careful to see how the server presents the drinks. It does not make sense that they would handle a glass by the rim, but should handle a stem glass by the stem and a tumbler in the middle. A few seconds’ more of extra care will make the dining experience better.

As for ice- what do they make it in? How often are the ice makers cleaned? And have you ever seen those large buckets in which ice is carried out of the kitchen or waiting staff credenza area on the way to be dumped in a larger bin sometimes near an area where dirty dishes are deposited for the bussers to take back to the kitchen? That ice if it does not have germs on its way into the large bin, or does not get the germs from the scoop, probably get germs from being around the area where the large ice bucket is dumped. If you can do without ice, do without it. Ask for a chilled drink perhaps, that requires no ice.

Cooks and servers should ALWAYS make sure to wash the lemons or limes before presenting them to be squeezed or put into a glass. It is not pleasant to think that a lemon that has come from a field and been handled by others has not been washed before being presented at your table. Wash any utensils that come in contact with fresh fruits, and dry them, making sure no residue remains and that the knife does not contact other surfaces where items such as meats or unwashed fruits or vegetables have been.

If possible do not handle ketchup or mustard containers at the table. Ask the server to put a small amount of the condiments into a bowl or on a plate and remove the sticky containers from the table. The more you handle such containers you contact germs.

And you see what goes on at salad bars… many adults still do not understand the rules of proper hand -washing, so those scoops and tongs that hang out on those little plates before the larger bowls are just brimming with germs and bacteria deposited by people who have not observed proper hygiene. Look closely sometime at those tongs- fingerprints, food residue… well, if you go to a salad bar and make a salad, take it to your table using a napkin to hold your plate (and use one hand to hold the plate and another to serve from the large bowls and hold the tongs) and then wash your hands very well using lots of soap and water and clean towels afterwards!

In the bathroom, WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY after you use the toilet. Use folded tissue to flush the toilet if it is not automatic, to reduce your touching of any bathroom items. Use another to open the latch on the stall door, and if the door does not push open, use another towel to open the door. NEVER leave a bathroom without washing your hands- you touch surfaces all the time, so a few seconds extra washing will reduce contact with germs.

Some restaurants have bussers that wear gloves and use disposable cloths when they wipe the tables, such as Big Bowl, at their Cedar location. Bussers just need to make sure they wash their hands after wearing gloves and after handling dirty dishes, and especially before boxing up leftovers, if they take over that task from the server/waiter.

Many times I ask for a container so I can box up my leftovers; I prefer to do this myself and feel more comfortable doing so.

Restaurant managers need to educate bussers and servers to better cleaning and hygiene practices. Managers need to see that bussers do not use the same rag on the tabletop and on the seats and then back to the tabletop. Twirling the rags is also not a good idea as this could just flip out food and liquids that the rags caught during the cleaning process. I don’t care for it when a busser walks near my table flipping a rag around, such as I have seen in some restaurants in Chicago’s famous Loop.

For happier customers, take the time to be careful and thorough when maintaining a restaurant. Do not use cloth rags on tables and seats; use disinfectant and bleach disposable towels and wear gloves and wash hands afterwards.

Ensure clean floors and clean doors!

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

School and Students:: How to Be and Remain a Good Student

Are you a good student? Do you want to be a good or a better student? Here is an article about how to accomplish that goal… or some good pointers at least.

1. The Phrase “dress for success” Really Does Have Meaning… and here is how it does.

What influences the manner in which you dress, in which you get ready for each day in choosing what to wear? Naturally the seasons of the year have bearing on what you wear; if it is warm you might wear shorts, lighter -colored socks and pants, and light -material and lighter -colored shirts and blouses. If the conditions are cold, you go for thicker socks, heavier pants, and coats, mittens, and thick hats and earmuffs.

What else has to do with what you wear? One factor is what you have that is clean and pressed. If you need to do laundry then do it; if the codes of your school require that your clothes are properly pressed and your shoes polished then do that or have someone teach you how to iron and how to keep your shoes clean and neat. Clothing also must be appropriate for the situations you are going into. Many schools have dress codes and uniforms, and it is suggested that no fuss is made when you encounter those rules. Rules are made for a reason and should be followed. If you are not sure of something, please ask a trusted teacher or other authority figure and listen to them carefully.

If your school does not have a dress code and what to wear is under your discretion, play it safe. If you put something on and you have ANY doubts at all about how you look in it or whether or not the clothes will cause trouble or attract undesirable attention or makes you look funny, then take it off and save it for the weekend or the beach or vacation. Refuse to follow trends if they do not make you feel comfortable; after all you are the one who for hours a day will wear that shirt, those pants or shorts, those shoes and socks and belts and jewels. Opt for simple clothes without a lot of graphics or loud colors that will definitely attract attention and distract you from your studies or will distract others from their studies.

Remember that there are other people around; the school is not just you alone.

2. Be Respectful and Punctual as Possible

Respect is not only a manner of behavior, it is essentially a duty of every citizen one towards the other. To “respect” simply means to look at again. You can certainly respect yourself in a healthy way and thus you are able to respect others as easily as you breathe and walk and eat. In any public setting, respect of others is just essential and vital to remember, simple as that. How do you respect others, or how can you learn the ways to do that?

One way is to wait your turn to speak, especially if those who are talking are older than you. It is just proper to respect your elders, including teachers, professors, and all school personnel, no matter what position they hold. They are your elders and experienced in what they do, and can provide you with direction and knowledge, so listen carefully to what they say.

Never shout down a hallway or on a street corner or in a quiet room or library or other places where people are reading and studying. Shouting and screaming in public is a vulgar habit and is not necessary. If you cannot reach someone right away, you can call them or text them or send electronic mail any time. If you contact someone electronically, remember to use the rules of proper electronic etiquette. There are plenty of resources that teach those habits.

Endeavor to be as on time as possible. Get up earlier for the bus if you have to, so you have time to dress, have breakfast and not rush through it, gather your supplies and head off to school. Do not keep the bus driver waiting, and do not keep the class waiting. Being on time is a life skill that you will always have and need to work on, no matter if you are going to school, going on a vacation, going out to dinner, or meeting someone. Punctuality is a good quality.

3. When You Have a Problem, Ask Questions.

Every once in a while we run into situations we do not understand, something about which we need clarification. At that point we need help… we need to ask questions. We need to gain understanding and problem solving.  This is where teachers and other trusted people enter the picture. These are folks who have the experience you need to get to the root of the problem and find out the answers. If there is a problem with the mathematics homework, ask your parents, or get onto a homework hotline, or ask your professor. Do not be afraid to ask for help; that is what these people are there to help with, solving problems. Be patient and learn the steps that will help in the future when you encounter other odd situations. Problem -solving is a life skill as well; you will need to learn to do this as you go through school, no matter what subjects you study. You will problem -solve in the workplace as well, so learn that skill and polish it every chance you have. Helping others to solve problems or get through concerns is a fine way to polish your own skills and such leadership is desirable. When you teach others you should get a good feeling and want to do more teaching.

4. Branch Out: Grow Out of Your Neighborhood and Into the Global Setting

Many people think that sticking to being in “the neighborhood” is a good thing. It is to a point, that point being that once you have seen everything, know everyone, know the habits and sights and sounds, you are probably ready to go to other places and see new things.

Branching out is a good thing and a vital element of growing up. Being social is just a part of what we do; it is why we are a “society”. You have to have the courage to say, “There are others out there who are different, and I want to get to know them. Sure others say to stick with people who look like me or talk like I do… but no one does that.”

Which is why you must take the lead and talk to others at your school. Is there someone who does not make friends easily? Talk with them. Is there someone who seems alone? Talk with them. Invite them to your lunch table or to sit outside on the school grounds and have a bag lunch out there and just talk about things. You will feel good, someone else will feel better, and both of you might become fast friends for life. Everyone is unique and individual and special, and because of that we must respect everyone.

You are the one who must take the first step away from the streets you find familiar, to reach towards that part of town you have not explored before but have heard about. Go there and look around, ask about what interests you and learn from the people in that area.

And when you have the chance, travel. When I had the chance for international travel I took the opportunity. Because I had the courage, the world was as an open book, but instead of looking at someone else’s photos, the pictures became living and colorful and alive and vibrant. In China there were people doing Tai Chi in the morning. In Japan there were people exercising and walking about and doing business. In Europe people went about their daily lives, playing and working and maintaining the home life. Some were there to take care of the tourists, and thanks to them my times in these areas was made pleasant and comfortable. Travel is essential in the growth process, even if it is just to another part of your city, and favorably if to another part of America and the world.

5. Growing Up, Have Fun!

No matter what you do, be your real self, learn what that means, and have fun exploring what that means. When you are sitting at the desk at home, burning the studying oil after dinner or late into the night to get that term paper ready, you are preparing for a lifetime of work and fun. You are the one who will grow out, make the changes, and learn to help others while helping yourself as well.

Enjoy your life!

Downtown Chicago

Photos taken with a Leica V -LUX -4 “bridge” style camera.

Communication is the Answer

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

Memorial Day: Occasions to Ponder and Give Thanks

It’s true, we do not need a day called “Thanksgiving” to be gracious and humbled. We can have gratitude every single day of our lives, if not for some things, than for someone.

In this case it is for the people who have served in our national military services, giving and straining for the highest achievements such a career can provide. You give the effort, someone else gives their efforts to help you be your best, and in the end, you serve and you sacrifice.

As many ads of the past month or so indicate, many uniformed personnel return and are reunited with their families… in one bodily piece. We can also hope these folks are mentally fit as well as they are physically fit. These ladies and gentlemen are so happy to see their families, and those kids sure are happy to see them, running up to the arms of mom or dad.

On this day of auto racing in the Indianapolis 500, on this day of barbecues, swimming, pickup baseball and pro baseball and other outdoor activities which Americans are privileged to engage in this long holiday weekend, we must remember all of those who are serving now in this country and overseas in the name of freedom and the preservation of those rights we as American citizens hold dear and near.

We should take time to remember the first responders of our emergency medical services as well as those in our Army, Navy, Air Forces, Marines and Coast Guard. We can find special ways to honor them. Think about the veterans languishing in hospitals or at home care, and consider what you can do to help them. No veteran should be alone, or waiting for care when they are in pain or suffering, or homeless and searching for their next meal in a trash can dirty with pet waste, chemicals, and broken glass. Everyone needs someone at some point… what can you do for one of these in need?

Place a flag in a military/national cemetery. Honor your serving relatives who happen to be in the states with gifts, a dinner, something really nice to show your appreciation. Serve them breakfast in bed tomorrow morning, go on a picnic, go to a parade and spend some time on this fine day watching the marching bands and the ROTC corps in their dress uniforms troop the colors and the streets they might someday defend like those who have paved the way for them to receive an education. If your loved ones are overseas, send them an extra special message of I Love You and Thank You, and gather the family for a photo. And hope all of those who are in other nations come back soon and are healthy.

I viewed one of those ceremonies and parades yesterday in Chicago when in the Loop I watched Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth in her sharp, spiffy dress uniform go to the eternal flame area with Mayor Emanuel at her side to place a wreath. Then came the singing of God Bless America and then a profound playing of Taps. All around were proud young soldiers and older soldiers in their fine uniforms and giving salutes and showing such poise during so profound and intense a moment as that was. The parade down State Street followed, with the usual fanfare, the floats, the bands and the folks in command, stirring their charges with reminders to keep in step and to halt and proceed at certain times, and stirring all who attended with their voices meant to get attention and remind us, in a way, to do our best as well.

Wherever you are this weekend, at an airport, on the roads, with your friends and family; whether at home snug and comfy in your library engaging in a good book before a nice dinner served by your cook and staff, or whether you are cooking your own supper in the company of your television and a movie, no matter where you are or what you do, think about those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure you can do just those things.

Pray for peace as you go about your day as well, for world peace and peace of mind, for yourself and for everybody.

cropped-flagam1.jpg

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

Race Relations? Are We Making Progress… or Making Problems?

Race relations is a very complicated issue… and we have made it even more so by allowing our government to put into our culture and our more vulnerable trains of thought and action and working the idea of demographics being so important. Well, perhaps “demographics” are important but only if the methods lead to actual, real, and tangible actions being done for those who are really in need of certain things being funded or built or done for a community.

But what is “good” and who is doing the “good”? Truly it should not even matter, but these days when Americans are so rude and crude in their manners that they are coming out and DEMANDING things, and DEMANDING this or that, and thinking that they are the only important factor because of their skin color or their ethnicity that they can push others out of the way and get in the front of the line, we need to be more on our guard than ever.

Race relations will not make progress until we lessen the role of the Census Bureau and wake up to the fact that it does not matter what you look like, “where you are from”, what your ethnic background is, or what you do for a living. People need to realize that the government is not really doing the average citizen any good at all.

Witness the recent talk of school segregation. Who really is at fault? Everyone or no one or the government or school officials? Is it the false idea of the “neighborhood” school that prevents  people from growing up and out and expanding their trains of thought and branching out? Is it the fear among these “neighborhood” people that if “someone does not look like me that they will have a bad influence on my family”? What kind of silly thinking is THAT?

Who cares about what the person looks like that is teaching your kids or treating your for a disease or selling you that house? And anyway, NO ONE looks like anyone else, so get that into your unique heads right now! NO ONE looks like anyone else, and we all think about things in different ways and see things in unique and variable ways. Someone can say there are “identical” siblings, but that’s not the real issue here. People vary in their coloring, in their hairstyles and hair coloring, in eye color, in a thousand different physical variables that push the idea of “looking like” another person completely out the window with the rest of the demographic garbage.

Think about this, a thought inspired by something I heard on the radio this morning, to wit that there are not enough “African – American” doctors in the “underserved” areas of Chicago, and no doubt other major cities. And then someone thinks the resources are not there to train and get these doctors -to -be, those “black” and “brown” children mentioned in the report on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago, out to those areas where the need appears greatest. Bologna.

Have you ever heard of a medical school, Mr. WBBM Reporter? Yes, there is actually something called a MEDICAL SCHOOL, folks. Just in case you in those communities are not aware, there have been doctors of every “race” and background for decades in America. Anyone, yes anyone, can go to a medical school, get the proper training, get incentive, and get to the business and the study of becoming a physician. Then they can choose where they want to go, and the choice is based on those variables such as where they will feel comfortable or needed or what kind of money they will make.

Well if the money is all that matters the doctor will not be a good doctor to the point of seeing the patients as people instead of as payments. If the doctor wants to get out there and serve the populace that is the target of the policies that have cause that population to be inadequately served and thus in need of care and comfort, then they will do so. An episode of the popular television show EMERGENCY! had a physician who put his private practice way out in an area of desert and scrub and no one around for miles, at least not another doctor who could provide his skills. The small office had a nurse, a couple of nice clean patient rooms, and a surgical suite.

Now in early parts of the episode there is a bad accident that the main EMERGENCY! characters come upon as they return from a vacation. They must get help for the victims since they cannot practice their paramedic skills in another state, so they eventually get help and race the mother and boy to that small clinic in that small town area. The nurse is the only person on staff there and so they must wait for the doctor, who eventually arrives and sees that there is need for his services. The paramedics are expecting to see an old man, the proverbial lovable old country doctor but instead a younger man with a thick mustache and in very casual clothes, comes in and assesses the scene. After the victims are treated the paramedics and the doctor talk about why he has put his practice in that part of the state. He says something to the effect of, “Well I just wanted to practice where I am most needed. That’s why I stayed here.” Marvelous. EMERGENCY! as a 1970’s television show had a cast that was wonderful in its professional presentation and diverse nature, and this one episode is only one demonstration of what happens when need and service and consideration outweigh “government” policies and separatist attitudes and action takes over and someone has the courage to establish that practice where they really are most needed.

Now think about this: when it comes to “race”, what someone looks like on the outside, what would you do if your house caught fire and you were trapped on a higher floor with no way out? The only “race” you should then be concerned about is the dash of the fire department to your home to save your life. Would it really matter to you who was first up that 100 foot Pierce Aerial in that basket to rescue you from the burning bedroom? I think not. If you looked out that window at the firefighter who came up in his or her heavy gear to get you out, what would you see – someone with a face that “does not look like yours”, or someone who is there to save your life, with arms at the ready to carry you down and get you some help? If you took one look at that firefighter and back at the flames coming through the bedroom door, I suspect you would reach out and let the firefighter carry you down that latter, with his or her words of reassurance as you go down to the ground, safely away from the flames and smoke.

There is next the issue of this stuff about “neighborhood” schools, especially in Chicago. A neighborhood is made up of people who can be of the same background or can be made up of a lot of different kinds of people. So what does it matter what the teachers or the officials “look like”? Goodness gracious, what digression… what aggression… what stupid trains of thought! “I won’t let you teach my kids because you don’t look like them!” Come on, folks. If the teacher is qualified, if the school system is providing qualified personnel and proper facilities, then there is nothing to worry about. People are letting words and concepts such as “charter” and “selective” and “magnet” and “private” and “public” get in the way of seeing that the students are provided a good and proper and higher education. We are being taken away from the real issue: EDUCATION.

My teachers were very diverse when I was growing up and attending public schools in Nashville. I didn’t care a bit what these ladies and gentlemen looked like: I respected them each and every one, I sat and listened in class, and I was respectful of the principals and other school officials and bus drivers. Had I thought, “I’m not taking math from him because he’s not from my neighborhood” or “I won’t listen to her because she has a different skin color from me” would have gone against the very principles of what education is meant to do and what its purpose is. Education is meant to challenge us to grow and expand our horizons, to get us to put different skill sets together and continue to learn and work with others, to make out the map of our lives and careers and our plans for the future. If we do not draw out the talents we have or that others have; if we do not march out and away from the ideas and thoughts that impede progress in the sense of us working together with others for success; if we do not lead others out of the mental captivity our government officials have chained many of us with, then our education system has failed.

We have failed, we have then wasted money and energy and resources, and we have not done our best.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

 

Wheels Carry Us to Invention, Inspiration, and… Progress?

Mankind invented the wheel. What have we done with that innovation?

We have come up with the horse and carriage, a transition to the motorized vehicle and which are still used in many parts of the country today. Though they have the horse which needs to be fed and cared for there is the need of the carriage with its two large wheels. We came up with the stagecoach… still needs horses, though, and at least four. More expensive care and feeding there, and for the tourist carriages that roll through some American cities there is the extra need for safety procedures that ensure the care of horse and riders.

Chicago is a city that runs twenty -four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, all the time but not always on time. Yet we as a city -race do run, and we can run ourselves ragged.

We as citizens of America’s third -largest city are surrounded by wheels. There are four of them on our cars; there are hundreds of them on the trains we take every day, and there are hundreds of them on the busses that come to collect us and take us to our destinations.

On television we also see the wheel. There is the wheel of fortune on the show of the same name. There is a wheel on the popular game show and one of the longest running television shows, the Price is Right, and there are wheels of prizes on Let’s Make a Deal. If there is not a wheel there is the “roll” of the dice in the hopes of winning something really nice. Among the prizes offered are, what else, cars and motorcycles.

We can easily forget in the limelight of potentially winning one of those spectacular prizes the elements of safety that come with owning them. If you drive you must realize that there are rules of safety designed to keep you and other drivers and pedestrians safe. There are rules and laws of decency that every driver needs to know and to follow. Never use a device that takes your hands off the steering wheel. You are in a moving automobile, a vehicle weighing at least three thousands pounds and much more the larger and heavier it is. Vehicles can travel the length of a football field in less than ten seconds at 55 miles an hour.

Left untamed, the wheel can take us right into nothing but trouble. Four of them moving at that speed can cause great catastrophes and harm and injury and destruction.

The wheel is a sign and symbol of taking risk, of making a journey, of traveling and of arriving.

Somewhere.

We get in our cars or on the bus or train with the intention of getting someplace and doing something. We “fight traffic”, we get into “traffic jams”, and we experience “train delays” and construction delays every day. Now delays can be caused by any number of reasons- the ever -present construction, weather situations, trucks stuck under viaducts, or flooded viaducts. And under us those wheels made of rubber and metal, decorated by hubcaps and inflated by air pressure, those wheels supporting the tons of metal, rubber, and… people who use them every day.

And under those wheels, the roads that need the very constant maintenance that causes those jams and delays and ties -up and other situations we encounter. Roads and tracks need to be in good order to support the thousands of vehicles traveling on them every day, and if they are not we can and do see the consequences.

Airplanes also have wheels. Isn’t it amazing when you look at those tiny tires under the millions of tons of jetliner and wonder how they support it? Some jets weigh close to half a million tons, so it seems a stat on the aptly -called jumbo jets came through once. Planes take off at over a hundred miles an hour and touch down on those incredible tires, and I to this day am inspired to watch when a jet comes into the terminal jet -way, gazing at those circles of rubber and metal. Remarkable.

We are a nation of travelers, no matter what we are doing. We watch shows that inspire us to travel; we get out of the house and go places to do things. We feel the need and have the right to freedom of movement and to move anywhere we want.

But some people misuse those resources others pay taxes on and work on and get to work and school and play and worship on. Some people use their vehicles to commit drive -by murders, use them to dispense drugs, use them to run the drugs to other states, use them to commit road rage, vehicular homicide, and hit and run incidents that take the lives of others and can leave others maimed for life. Some people consider that they can just throw waste on the roads, where other have to see and smell it every day. They throw it out lazily and without any consideration that someone else will have to clean it up, and when there are trash bags and receptacles they can put the waste into. You who litter and who just toss junk onto the roads should know better than that! Such habits show a total lack of consideration for the lives of others; throw the junk onto a road and you could cause an accident. You might think that little piece of trash is nothing but if someone runs over it or hits it a tragedy could happen, and you would be at fault for causing death and destruction.

You would be at fault for causing loss of life, of someone who might turn out to be a loved one or a friend or even someone you work with. Do you think of that?

But there are better ways to consider the roads we use and everything that goes with using those roads. Of course we can think of those roads but we do have other ways to travel, and those ways existed before the wheel.

We have feet and we can make trails and paths- we were doing so long before we had to invent the convertible. We were running and hunting and getting around because we had to, because we needed to get place to place and follow the animals and the spring rains and the trade routes.

We can use our feet to go some places so long as the walk is not super long… that is unless we are on a relay race that takes us across states and countries to raise funds for some worthy cause as happened this week to help the people affected by events in Boston last year. Thousands of people will this coming week run in the Boston Marathon, only a year after two horrid men set off bombs in that beautiful city, killing and maiming and doing great harm to many people.

And how will the racers and spectators get to Boston? Well, if they live close enough some might walk to see the Marathon. But my wager is that most of them will travel on or in a vehicle with wheels. Some will fly in and take busses and cars; some will drive sedans and coupes, and some will ride their bicycles or motorcycles as far as they can get them to the race limits. They will take the tens of thousands of miles of roads that cross the United States, roads they hope are safe and maintained and travel -ready, will share those roads with thousands of other drivers and passengers in millions of vehicles of every size and description.

Trucks, huge semi tractor -trailers, moving vans, fire engines, ambulances, cars of every size and shape and vintage; the sport utility vehicles, busses and campers used for recreation during nice weather, and the motorcycles, vans, and limousines will make their way to Boston. With them are the police officers and the security teams that will monitor the routes and the airports leading in and out of that fair city.

There will be risks getting in and out of Boston as there are any other city or any place we go every day. Those who turn the chance into a grand circumstance will see an event that will be so very special to the participants and spectators, not only because the racers have trained and prepared for that big day but because of those thousands that will join them live and on television and by computer to watch them in that effort to show the world that those nasty terrorists have NOT WON that day and WILL NOT WIN at any time and any place on United States land.

We love to travel. Let’s all stay safe doing so.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.