Lou Ness

Perspective: The Day I Wept

Jan 13, 2021
public domain / U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Rep. Andy Kim could simply not bear the rotunda looking like an abandoned parking lot, so he donned gloves, grabbed a broom and waste bag and began to clean up. The insurrectionists had wreaked havoc and desecrated The People’s House, a place Kim loved. Rep. Kim is a child of immigrants who loved the United States and its ideals, in the aftermath, before the vote, he was the lone person cleaning up after the carnage.

Perspective: The Underbelly Of Democracy

Dec 3, 2020

Mirror, mirror on the Wall, who’s The Greatest of Them All?

For years the mirror told us, “Why of course America, you’re the greatest!” Now the mirror has a different answer -- not you.

Perspective: Pointing The Finger Of Blame

Sep 24, 2020
!anaughty! / Flickr cc by 2.0

When I was a kid and fought with my siblings, the first weapon we raised was the pointing finger. My mother, now 97, would say, “Well the one thing we have plenty of right now is blame -- and it won’t get this fixed!” Then walking away from us, she would call back, “Figure this out -- now.” With that we were left on our own, the message was clear, stop finger pointing and fix it or we would all be in trouble.


Perspective: A Brave New World Of Campaigning

Aug 5, 2020
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As the 2020 election looms, it’s a brave new world out there.  COVID-19 has changed everything, even elections. Candidates, staffers and volunteers are working on virtual strategies. This will mean more mailings, phoning and texts in place of traditional face to face events.

COVID-19 has reshaped how campaigns are organized. Many of you know I am managing my daughter’s campaign for the General Assembly in the 66th district. Though I am not new to campaigning, I have had to spend time wandering through the virtual world. Ugh.

Perspective: Attitude Reflects Leadership

Jun 4, 2020
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In 1971, in Virginia, a black teen was shot and killed by a white store owner. The city Alexandria created T.C. Williams, an integrated high school. The movie Remember the Titans gives us a glimpse of that struggle. There is a moment when Julius (a black player) and Gary (a white player) are arguing under a tree. When Gary challenges Julius to give his all for the team, Julius turns to Gary and says, “Attitude reflects leadership…Captain.”

Perspective: Behind Every Candidate...

Mar 11, 2020
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They’re everywhere. campaign signs littering the landscape, material crowding your mailboxes, the knock on the door and so much more -- democracy in action. Welcome to the election cycle! The stage is set for the typically low voter turnout on March 17th, the Illinois Primary.  


Perspective: My Prayer For 2020

Jan 15, 2020
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Perspective: Am I Doing Enough?

Nov 7, 2019
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I have a friend who is relentless about protesting the current administration. Attending opposition rallies, picketing, gathering signatures. She has an urgent feel to her activities, as though the world depends on her. She is daunting, she is at it every day. My friend looks a bit over the edge. Her fear is palpable. 


Perspective: Produce, Preserve, Prepare!

Aug 29, 2019
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The first frost of the northern region (that’s us) is October 24th. Cool wet weather is predicted for September and October. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts heavier snowfall for our area. Frigid weather sets in the last week of January through early March. There you have it, winter in a snapshot. 

Perspective: Sticks, Stones, Words

Jul 25, 2019
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When a bully hurt me, my mother used to say, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt me.” My mother was wrong. 


Words did and do hurt.  Name calling left lasting bruises on my sense of self. A well-chosen hateful word is more destructive than a punch.  

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

And now, a little lesson. The definition of oppression is “the systematic institutionalized mistreatment of one group over another for whatever reason.”

Whew! What a mouthful. I share this because among several comments Mitch McConnell made about reparations for slave families, he also argued it would be difficult to determine who to pay because "waves of immigrants" come to the country who have faced "dramatic discrimination."

Liz Dranow / Pixabay

Life turns on a dime.  


Lou Ness

Four weeks ago, I had the opportunity to fly to Australia, the land down under -- it’s a bucket list thing. I was a little hesitant, money being one of my considerations. Before I go further, you should know this about me: I am easily distracted, a little disorganized (a result of being easily distracted) so traveling 9100 miles alone was daunting.

Perspective: Remembering Webbs

Feb 1, 2019

Note: Longtime Rockford Park District executive director Webbs Norman died Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. His visitation is Friday, Feb. 1 from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Rockford. His memorial service is at MercyHealth Sportscore Two in Loves Park, Saturday, Feb. 2, beginning at 11:00 a.m. Woodstock resident and WNIJ Perspectives author Lou Ness has this remembrance.

I am sitting on my bed at the Hilton Inn in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the other bed is my daughter, Suzanne. We are on our way to Louisville to launch a year long Leadership Development Program for one of our corporate clients. We have written this program together. It is unique, filled with new ideas and challenges for the students. Along the way we had some bumpy conversations, and here we are one day away from lift off. 

Perspective: The Holiday Rollercoaster

Dec 26, 2018


Get Ready For The Holidays!

Nov 15, 2018


One week from now is the official start of the 2018 holiday season. The flurry of activity, the anticipation of wonder, the gathering of family and friends – it all begins on November 22. I for one will be busy preparing for the only holiday dinner we host, Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving for several reasons. 

The Sign Of A Coward

Oct 12, 2018

It was just another ordinary day. I came home from running errands, found the mail, opened, on the dining room table. I briefly glanced at it and continued with letting the dogs out, hanging up my keys and getting a drink of water, before sitting down.


"You're the enemy of the people, and we're going to kill every f---ing one of you,” said Robert Chain, now free on $50,000 bond for making threats against the Boston Globe Newspaper. 



Alla Famiglia, Sometimes

Aug 2, 2018


I have just returned from the annual family reunion. Gathered from eight states, we played, laughed, told family stories to the youngest members of our tribe and yet something…. 


Goodbye To A Community Ally

Jun 28, 2018

Several years ago, a note came across my email: “Would you be interested?”

The message came from someone called Victor Yehling who said he was from WNIJ/NPR. Victor wanted to know if I would be interested in an idea he had. People from the community would write a short piece (250 words) and record the piece for a program he was starting called Perspectives. A few of us said yes and so it began.

Wishes For Memorial Day

May 24, 2018

“Oh, beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain…” I love that song; it can always make we weepy.

I’m a veteran. I served in the Army in the midst of the TET Offensive. I wish I could tell you I was as politically aware as I am now, however I was 18, and the world was all about me.

The Assurances Of Spring

Apr 12, 2018

Can you believe this weather?

On Easter it was cold, very cold, then it snowed. Soon it will be in the middle 60s. What’s up? It’s on everyone’s mind, the Midwest spring/winter roller coaster. 

Let me remind everyone: We have had chilly, very chilly, and wet weather as late as Memorial Day. I remember standing in the clammy climate cheering on my kids who were marching in a parade, shivering down to my damp toes. 

Celebrating Women Everywhere

Mar 8, 2018

International Women's Day  is celebrated on March 8 every year. It commemorates the ongoing fight for women’s equality.

While the first observance of a Women's Day was held February 28, 1909, in New York, March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Woman's Conference to become an "International Woman's Day." In 1975, it was adopted by the United Nations.

For most people, this day will pass quietly without much fanfare. Make no mistake: Women are organizing around the world to bring justice, fairness and equal rights to the front of the conversation.

Check What's In That Spoon

Feb 1, 2018

I am no longer scandalized by comments from the president. Rather, I expect unpredictable behavior from him, it’s the new norm.

However I am disturbed by the silence from Republican leadership in the face of yet more disturbing conduct from the President. I am angry about the silence from elected men and women charged with holding the president accountable for his conduct.

My Republican friends whisper to me in corners, “I cannot bear the man,” and then are silent when he feeds his base spoonfuls of hate.

Not Too Late For Christmas Wishes

Dec 28, 2017

“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…” Remember that song? I do. Oh, if it were only that simple.

What do I want for Christmas? I want civility, kindness, compassionate relationships with our world partners. I want a leader who brings people together over solutions, not creates divides so wide, sometimes even families can’t reach across to each other.

Here's Why I Take A Knee

Oct 19, 2017

From the front of the room, the professor -- who was black -- sarcastically said, “So, now I should feel bad for you, poor little white girl?”

From the front of the room, the professor -- who was black -- sarcastically said, “So, now I should feel bad for you, poor little white girl?”

I felt the heat spread from the top of my head throughout my body. Her remark was in response to a statement I made when she asked, “How did you feel reading the poem, ‘What I want my white friends to know about being black?’” I said “ashamed.”  Hence the slap!

Do The Right Thing -- For The Future

Sep 14, 2017

Don’t you love this weather? Mild days, cool nights and a slight breeze to keep the sweat away when you’re working or playing outdoors.

Yes, its fall. Still let’s think about this. We have not had reasonable rain in 19 days. Heat, hot weather is what ripens tomatoes, so the red fruit is lagging in production. Early this spring, torrential rains turned strawberries to mush and mold. In my garden the mildew is rampant. It needs a little heat.

A Time To Speak Out

Aug 10, 2017

I wonder who’s next?

Martin Niemöller, a pastor, was an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for this quotation:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.

“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.

Reassessing The Light In The Tunnel

Jul 6, 2017

I wonder what it will take? Really, don’t you wonder what it will take for members of Congress to hold the president accountable for making choices and decision that could dramatically impact this country?

My mother used to say, “I promise I will never threaten you.” So, guess what: When she said something would happen — it did. My mother did not believe in false exaggerations of anything, a down-to-earth woman who did not appreciate grandstanding.