WNIJ Perspectives

Perspective: My 2020 Bingo Card Is A Bust

7 hours ago
Alejandro Garay / Pixabay

Do you ever joke about what’s NOT on your imaginary “2020 Bingo Card?” I’d never have thought to include a global pandemic that would sweep in and virtually shut down civilization.

We’ve all daydreamed about working from home in our PJs, but who’d have guessed we’d be doing just that day after monotonous day?

Perspective: Out Of The Darkness

Sep 30, 2020
Dan Meyers / Unsplash

I tried and failed to get sober many times. I’d get through a couple of days, sometimes a week, and then the stigma would get to me. I couldn’t bear the thought of never having another drop of alcohol. Of being cast as an outsider. Of being judged as deeply flawed and damaged.

So I kept drinking in the shadows. No one knew I was getting drunk day after day. I was like a ninja with my drinking, hiding it from my wife, my kids, from everyone, all while my life was teetering on the edge of collapse.

Perspective: One Small Step

Sep 29, 2020

The day after Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, I joined a StoryCorps One Small Step conversation while sitting in my writing chair, my books and sunshine behind me. I worried that my partner and I would get snarled in an argument. I’ve barely begun to understand what it means to be a conservative and don’t feel equipped to argue the finer points. Besides, my mind goes blank.


Even though we face an impending election it is easier to recount what Congress has not done than what it has done. It has not renewed a single pandemic relief bill that it allowed to expire. Instead, members went home for August.

Perspective: RBG And Me

Sep 25, 2020
provided by Kathryn Zenoff

RBG. My personal connection. August 10, 1993. The White House.

There she stood at the pinnacle of her legal career, diminutive in stature, with a soft voice, her right hand raised, being sworn in as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Fast forward, twelve and a half minutes into her acceptance speech, she is quoting my aunt, Esther Rothstein, a Chicago attorney, about the attributes of women attorneys.

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: Race And Values

Sep 23, 2020

On the night of September 16, a still unknown perpetrator spray painted the “n-word” on the Center for Black Studies at Northern Illinois University. During the subsequent informational town hall, unnamed individuals attempted to sabotage the evening by interrupting speakers, interjecting racial slurs, and posting provocative and deceptive texts, once again hiding in the shadows.

Perspective: What's It All About?

Sep 22, 2020
courtesy of Lonny Cain

Life. What's it all about?

This question steamrolls over me now and then.

Alan Watts in his 1951 essay on finding meaning in reality said: “If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so… The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance.”

I think I get it. Perhaps it's as simple as the small photo I hold. A photo that got me thinking about this life stuff. It was taken 28 years ago. A family reunion shot. Marking the day many of us we were together ... at least for a while.

Perspective: Doing The Next Right Thing

Sep 21, 2020
jplenio / Pixabay

In current uncertain times, I have found wisdom in a surprising place -- the movie Frozen II. In it, Anna says that when you’re up against a challenge and aren’t sure what to do, “do the next right thing.” An important precursor to this is advice from the 1989 Spike Lee drama, to always do the right thing.

I’m a person who likes to know what’s coming. Confession: I sometimes skip ahead when reading and sneak a peek at upcoming chapters. We can’t do that in real life, good thing.

Perspective: What I Didn't Do At 17

Sep 18, 2020
Norman Bosworth / Pixabay

When I was 17, my goals were to turn 18, graduate from high school, attend the University of Illinois, and make my way in the world.

Like many of my friends, I owned a rifle.  It was stored safely on a rack in my bedroom, except when I was target shooting or small game hunting.

When I headed to college in the fall of 1969, that rifle remained 150 miles away, still on my bedroom wall. The thought of taking it to a protest or demonstration would have seemed ludicrous.

Perspective: Hurl Barbs Like A Bard

Sep 17, 2020
Birminham Museums Trust

America has probably not been this divided -- or this uncivil -- since the Civil War. Differences of opinion have resulted in, not surprisingly, ad hominem attacks. I’ve found the use of misogynistic and anti-Semitic language especially troubling. And lately, I’ve also noticed social media pundits using a variation of what I’ll call the “r” word, an outdated and unacceptable way to describe special needs individuals.

Perspective: Can You Hear Me Now?

Sep 16, 2020
public domain

When I was 18, I received a short-wave radio from my dad for Christmas. I was SO excited.

In high school we just had reel-to-reel tapes recorded by the department chair who was French. I was studying French in college and we had cassette tapes, but this radio meant I could try and listen to Radio France or even the BBC live. I say try because you had to listen to various frequencies that wouldn’t always come in because of weather conditions or the time of day.

Perspective: Our Glorious Midwestern Tomato

Sep 15, 2020
Chris FInk

Almost every day in August and September, I eat a tomato sandwich featuring a fresh tomato from the garden.

I was telling my friend Scott from San Jose about this the other day before he told me to stop. Scott is my only friend left who still likes to talk on the phone. I was telling him how I liked the tomato sliced thin, and for bread I like this whole grain loaf that’s been around forever, what we used to call bark bread when I was a kid before I knew what was good.

Perspective: This Is A Sucker?

Sep 14, 2020
U.S. National Archives

Milt Giese still couldn’t talk about it. I worked with him at an asphalt paving company in the summer 1984. One afternoon I asked him about his experiences in the Army at the end of World War II in Europe. He talked for bit, but then stopped when he got to the part of helping recently liberated concentration camp victims. He teared up and was still unable to speak about that experience almost 40 years later. At 21, I only vaguely understood why. 

Perspective: COVID-19 Is For The Dogs

Sep 11, 2020
David Gunkel

Of all the coronavirus conspiracy theories circulating on social media, my favorite has got to be one that says the virus was developed and deployed by dogs. Like all conspiracy theories, it is patently false, but it does contain an insight into our current situation that is incredibly accurate and true.

Perspective: Families Shape Leaders

Sep 10, 2020

There’s a guy who publicly calls people names, like “Stupid Joe,” or “Nasty Nancy,” or “Pocahontas Elizabeth.” If you or I talk to a friend and say unkind things about someone who rubs us the wrong way, that signals a need to figure out what’s behind those feelings. But I’m talking about a guy who goes public with name calling and appears to relish it.

Perspective: Old Friend, Lost To The Political Divide

Sep 9, 2020
Debby Hudson / Unsplash

Dear Friend,

Fifteen years ago, you and I could sit over coffee and discuss weighty things.  No longer.  You now limit yourself to a world view espoused by a few TV and radio commentators and unknown sources on social media.  Pulitzer prize winning authors and mainstream news are too radical for you.  You have traded in National Geographic for the National Enquirer.

Perspective: By The Light Of A Cathedral

Sep 8, 2020
Karen Elyea

I often turn to poetry when things fall apart. I suppose it makes me feel less helpless to artificially capture a moment in words as time sweeps something out of existence. These words are no replacement, but for me at least, they’re therapeutic. So as the Rockford Masonic Temple burned to the ground, all I could do was watch and write.

Out on the roof, I watched the church burn

A plume of smoke, so faint against the night

That most us past Prospect would miss it

Were it not for the sound of wind

Sucked through shattered glass and arched doorways- 

Perspective: Sequoia Wisdom

Sep 7, 2020
Simi Luft / Pixabay

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I sat alone in a Yosemite forest and wept.

My husband and I had been hiking to a major grove of sequoias and were not more than a mile away, when I could go no farther. With my legs like lead and my heart racing, I knew I had to stop, even though to be so close and yet so far broke my heart.

Reluctantly, I told my husband to go on, and I sat down on a fallen log and let the tears fall.  Self-pity and misery were my sole companions.

At some point, however, alone in that awesome silence and solitude, I looked up.

Perspective: Whatever Happened To Sin?

Sep 4, 2020
Mitchell Orr / Unsplash

We are living in a time of softened language. This is called “euphemism,” but let us not get hung up on technical details.

People don’t die any more. They “pass.” Even mass murderers no longer “sin.” They just “made a mistake” and wish they hadn’t, since they got caught. Smutty films are now called “adult,” although every twelve-year-old knows that adults can be smutty sometimes. So there’s a certain logic here.

Perspective: Lies

Sep 3, 2020
Jay Park / Pixabay

Kellyanne Conway is leaving her job at the White House. She says she wants to spend more time with her teenage children and husband.


She’ll be remembered for her confrontational manner -- and for her lies. She burst out of the gate on January 22, 2017, with the jaw-dropping phrase “alternative facts,” the term she used to defend press secretary Spicer’s lie about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration. Lying became a way of life in this White House.


Perspective: A Sign Of Immortality

Sep 2, 2020
Francisco Solares-Larrave

Sometimes, I take a walk through a cemetery near my house. There's nothing morbid about it. In fact, I enjoy cemeteries, and during a trip, I insisted on seeing the cemetery of a small French town, and we found the tomb of Marc Chagall. I felt vindicated.

The one near my house has no celebrities that I know of. It looks a bit abandoned, despite some shiny headstones here and there. When I walk through it, I stop to contemplate some groups.

Perspective: American Values

Sep 1, 2020
Mediamodifier / Pixabay

Kaneland’s school year has begun unusually. Our teachers worked hard to prepare and provide our students with the best education for this moment. It’s not a typical situation, so our actions and expectations cannot be typical.

All summer we asked -- how do we move through a time where nothing is normal and no plan seems appropriate? That we have to make things up as we move forward? How do we succeed when everything feels like an experiment?

Although these questions seemed appropriate for school, they also point to our nation’s current state.

Perspective: Live Fully Every Moment

Aug 31, 2020
photo courtesy of Dan Kenney

This is a unique perspective for me. I may be dead when you hear this.

I write and record on the eve of my heart bypass surgery. Tomorrow morning they will literally stop my heart from beating so they can fix it. Trusting my surgeon and team to hold my heart in their hands.

During these past few days I found myself preparing both to live and to die.

Perspective: A More Perfect Union

Aug 28, 2020
Markus Innocenti / Pixabay

Commonly-held narratives about identity and nationhood lend meaning to our lives and allow us to work together. One of America’s storylines is founded upon the premise that we strive for a more perfect union through the defense of equality and liberty for all.

Perspective: Grandmother's COVID Report

Aug 27, 2020
Bart via Flickr (CC by NC 2.0)

“We live inside historic moments, unaware of their significance.” One of my high school history teachers told us that. He said historians will one day study our time and lives and suggested we record our observations and thoughts to assist them. “Or do it for your future children and grandchildren.” The hint of sex in our future made the boys leer at the girls, which made the girls giggle and the teacher sigh.

Perspective: Mid-Year's Resolutions

Aug 26, 2020
Jude Beck / Unsplash

Just think, we’ve been coping with an unrelenting natural disaster for months.

Unlike storms that can be spotted on radar before they arrive, the pandemic surprised us all. People responded with their own unique crisis response and while each response is simply a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, after half a year of “responding” it’s normal to feel that you just can’t feel much of anything anymore.

Perspective: Little Bird

Aug 25, 2020
Katie Andraski

The barn swallows swooped over the field as if they were telling us where Little Bird was. Dutifully Bruce looked for him, knowing he’d survived the night. I thought about the saying: What is desirable in a man is his kindness. I loved my husband.

Andy Feliciotti / Unsplash

Two emergency economic relief measures are expiring, even while the emergency itself still threatens to overwhelm us.

One measure offered enhanced unemployment compensation benefits. The other subsidized employers to retain employees. Both measures mitigated the effects of a collapsing economy.

Perspective: A Message From The Ashes

Aug 21, 2020
Samuel Schiro / Pixabay

The mayor of Nagasaki, Japan, has made a plea to the world, including his own government.

And to all communities in Illinois.

He wants us to remember what happened 75 years ago on Aug. 9, 1945, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on his city, three days after doing the same to Hiroshima. We killed thousands to end the war and the loss of more lives. 

In the ashes was a clear message for the conscience of the world that this should never happen again.