"I get those fleeting, beautiful moments of inner peace and stillness — and then the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day, I'm a human trying to make it through in this world."—Ellen Degeneres What do you most desire — way down deep inside? For me, that would be inner peace. "Inner peace" might come across like a worn-out hippy phrase, but I think we all know when we have it. And when we don't. For me, a metaphor for inner peace is the image of a boat on still water.
Ry Cooder came out with a new album recently. One of his songs has Jesus talking with the late singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie ("Jesus and Woody"). As they lament the rise of hatred, Jesus says to Woody: Well, I've been the Savior now for such a long time. And I've seen it all before. You good people better get together, Or you ain't got a chance anymore. (For purposes of this column, I define "good people" as those who prefer love over what someone has described as hatred's milder cousin, resentment).
Can something be both heartbreaking and ugly at the same time? We now know the answer is yes, as we witness the brutal confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh grind on. As I write this, that nomination is on a one week "pause" as the FBI looks into sexual assault allegations from Judge Kavanaugh's past.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in the Wisconsin gerrymandering case. A brief review: "gerrymandering" is the convoluted re-drawing of voting districts, by one party, for partisan political advantage. Both parties are capable of this shenanigan. The issue in the Wisconsin case was whether Republicans went too far when they re-set district lines following the 2010 census. But instead of addressing that issue, all nine justices concluded that the plaintiffs (those who brought the suit) had not proven they had "standing" to make their claims.
Mike Farley, who died recently, was one of the more remarkable people I have known. After a successful high school coaching career, he was named head football coach at UW-River Falls in 1970. It took a few years for him to get his program rolling. In Farley's first four years, the Falcons won a total of 12 games. And then the program took off like a bird of prey. In the final 14 years of his career, Farley-led teams won 106 games and lost 44. (Two ties.) The Falcons won conference championships in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987.
When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.—Winston Churchill. Sometimes it feels like our political environment is just another television "reality show." It can have that effect. Actual reality: like a nasty infection, divisiveness continues to spread across our nation. The great mystics recommended love and union as the bottom line in life, but it seems that we are increasingly turning our backs on that wisdom.
One of my high school teachers, Dick Durner, was known as a builder of school spirit. The smiling Mr. Durner liked to run out onto the basketball court before home games, cup his hands around his mouth — megaphone-like — and shout out to the student cheering section — "Is everybody happy?" This came to mind while reading the most current "World Happiness Report." It's a global ranking of happiness in 156 countries, produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
I initially submitted a different column than the one you're reading now. For a variety of reasons, I contacted the paper on Monday and asked them to pull the column. They graciously complied, even though I can imagine what that does to the already-busy people who are working up to a deadline. Anyway, I'm glad I pulled that column back. I wrote it in a reactionary mode, and I didn't even realize that I was stuck in it. I was certain that I had a correct (and potentially humorous) read on the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki.
Who "wears the pants" in your household? It's not an issue if you're single, but if you live with someone the question may come up. The expression comes from the era when men were the only ones wearing pants. And pants equaled power. Growing up in the 1950s, most families looked the same to me: husband, wife and kid(s), with man as "head of the household." On rare occasions, the wife appeared to be in charge. The whisper would go like this: "You can sure tell who wears the pants in that family!"
It was a mighty strange sight to recently witness the gradual demolition of Karges Center on the UW-River Falls campus. Mid-way through the demolition process, the remnant of that once-mighty structure reminded me of images from WWII. "Karges" has held a steady presence on the local campus for nearly 60 years. The building was named in honor of Dr. R.A. Karges, affectionately known as "Kargie." He taught chemistry at River Falls and was vice president of the college from 1926 to 1951.