WNIJ Perspectives

Perspective: Why It Matters

Feb 19, 2020
Msync / Pixabay

In 2011, the Interactivity Foundation, where I am a Fellow, published a report entitled The United States Democratic Promise.  This guide summarized months of discussions among regular citizens and experts about the political turmoil in Wisconsin, where I live.  

The challenge then was to identify some different ways that we might reshape our political disagreements while also respecting the founding principles of American democracy. 

Perspective: Pay Attention

Feb 18, 2020

The poet Allen Ginsberg advises writers to “pay attention to what you pay attention to,” the idea being that the source of your creative impulse lies deep in your personal obsessions rather than in some more public space, where someone is always telling you what’s worth your attention. 


Perspective: Luck.

Feb 17, 2020
National Cancer Institute / Pixabay

2020 has not started off well for my wife, Wendy. Not long after New Year’s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  


Perspective: Lessons Learned From The Iowa Caucus

Feb 14, 2020
Alfred Derks / Pixabay

If there is one thing that the Democratic candidates for President can agree on, it is that the 2020 Iowa caucus was an unmitigated disaster.  


Perspective: The Wisdom Of Chocolate

Feb 13, 2020
Monika 1607 / Pixabay

I’ve been indulging in Valentine’s candy. I tell myself I need solace from the very contentious, chaotic, and crazy events swirling around these days. My flavor of the day is Dove dark chocolate -- which is good for you, isn’t it? But did you know that the mini Doves give you messages? One Dove wrapper told me, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” Almost as good as a Chinese fortune cookie!

Here’s another, “When life isn’t going right, go left.” Well, I’ve been going left for a lot of years, and it has yet to make things right!

Deutsche Fotothek

We live in an age where everyone loudly proclaims their rights, even when they inspire fear or threaten another's well-being. When I witness these vociferous defenses of the individual over the collective, I think back to a story my father told me.

As a teen, he and his family arrived in Dresden on Feb. 13, 1945. That night the incendiary bombs fell from the sky. In the school cellar where they were sheltered with other refugees, my grandfather managed to get a place next to a wall for himself and my father.

Perspective: Of Medals And Morals

Feb 11, 2020
public domain

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. It is one of the highest civilian awards given in the United States.  


Perspective: Spelling Bee Wisdom

Feb 10, 2020
Marnie O. Mamminga

The spellers were nervous. And who could blame them? Approximately two dozen 4th and 5th graders lined up on a stage with a gymnasium filled with their peers, parents, and grandparents sitting behind them. 


Perspective: Our Flawed Education System

Feb 7, 2020

For the second year, we're turning this week’s Perspectives segments over to Breja Fink's A.P. Language and Composition class at Beloit Memorial High School. 

School always preaches to students about taking its subjects seriously, yet they are never brought up after graduation.

After we are released into the real world, most of us will not have a clue about filing taxes, paying a mortgage, or fluently speaking a foreign language because they are not as emphasized in our education system.

Perspective: Run Free, Horse Girl

Feb 6, 2020

For the second year, we're turning this week’s Perspectives segments over to Breja Fink's A.P. Language and Composition class at Beloit Memorial High School. 

Perspective: Say My Name

Feb 5, 2020

For the second year, we're turning this week’s Perspectives segments over to Breja Fink's A.P. Language and Composition class at Beloit Memorial High School. 

Cultural assimilation. The all-too-familiar concept for the millions of people who make up this country’s minority population. It’s a concept we have now, thankfully, started to challenge.  


Perspective: The Long Run

Feb 4, 2020

For the second year, we're turning this week’s Perspectives segments over to Breja Fink's A.P. Language and Composition class at Beloit Memorial High School. 

I’ve been running cross country for years now. Along the 5,000-meter courses, I run through quite beautiful wooded trails. However, my focus is always intently on the finish line. How I can get more in the zone, more focused on each minute detail that can help propel me there faster. 

But why do I do this?

So that when I’m done, I can look at my time and feel like I’ve accomplished something.

For the second year, we're turning this week’s Perspectives segments over to Breja Fink's A.P. Language and Composition class at Beloit Memorial High School. 

Ah, college! The topic of stress for high school seniors.

Although I am not a senior, college is pounded constantly into my head, like a hammer to a nail.

“Why?” you ask.

Four words: first generation college student.

public domain


Recently I watched Howard Hawks’ 1951 movie The Thing From Another World, about a flying saucer alien who landed in the Arctic. As it turned out, “the Thing” was not an animal but a vegetable: a super-powerful, walking, homicidal carrot. Soon enough, these carrots from outer space would take over planet Earth. We non-carrots wouldn’t have a chance.  

Perspective: Give Meghan And Harry A Break

Jan 30, 2020
Mark Jones / Wikimedia

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan want to lead private lives. They are stepping away from their official duties as members of the royal family and are moving to Canada. They plan to become financially independent.

It’s a bold move.

The royal family has always been one of England’s favorite soap operas. Their weddings, births, deaths, and most of all, their indiscretions, are a source of endless fascination to the public and a surefire way to sell newspapers.

Perspective: A Message To The Billionaires

Jan 29, 2020
Matti Blume - CC BY-SA 4.0 (remixed) / Wikimedia

The next time someone tells you the rising level of income inequality in the U.S. is NOT a problem, consider this:

Jeff Bezos, the Founder and CEO of Amazon, is 55 years old.

His net worth is currently about $105 BILLION.

He reportedly sells more than a million shares of the company each year.

And, he’s easily earning a fortune on interest on the interest on the interest on the cash from shares he’s previously sold since taking the company public in 1997.

How much money is this? A lot.

Perspective: Guilty Pleasures

Jan 28, 2020
Jill Wellington / Pixabay

Guilty pleasures -- we all have them. A sneaked candy bar at the grocery store, a fancy drink at the restaurant, a magazine subscription, or binge-watching the soap opera that drives away the family. Guilty pleasures provide us with momentary escapes from reality.

Not that my reality is bad, it’s actually pretty good. So why do I need my guilty pleasures?

Perspective: Time To Do What Is Right

Jan 27, 2020
Renno new / Pixabay

I write this as the Senate takes up articles of impeachment. By the time you hear this it may be over. Whether the President is removed from office or not, this process, and the last three years, have brought a deep dark truth out of the shadows.

What troubles me more than the president’s behavior is all of those who rationalize his behavior, those who say it doesn’t matter. That so many, in roles of power, are willing to cast aside reason, willing to turn their backs on morals, and are willing to run from integrity.

Perspective: Whose History?

Jan 24, 2020
Jessica Pamp / Unsplash

This month, The New York Times reported on divergent history textbooks in California and Texas schools. The same publisher caters to each region’s views: California’s says that rulings on the Second Amendment allowed for gun regulations. The Texas book doesn’t.

Perspective: Connection To Home

Jan 23, 2020

With all of the headlines vying for attention, the rising of Lake Michigan and the loss of the lakeshore is one I’m particularly disturbed to see.

I’m from the Piedmont region of North Carolina, midway between the mountains and the coast. Like some who grow up amid such natural beauty and geographic diversity, I never truly appreciated these unearned windfalls that are North Carolina birthrights.

Reed Scherer


It continues unabated. The past 5 years were the hottest on record -- again. Australia is on fire and ice is melting at both poles. Meanwhile, despite having solar panels and buying carbon offsets my carbon footprint is still awful. I recently returned from a luxury cruise to Antarctica, a far cry from my usual Antarctic research expedition.

Perspective: Allergic To Goals

Jan 21, 2020
TeroVesalainen / Pixabay

What’s your word for the year? Your dreams? How will you make them happen? It’s January. Many of us are plotting our year. Me? I get emotional hives thinking about this. Even “to do” lists make my pen itch. I leave no checkmarks. Weekly I write down goals from two years ago.

I can plan my day, then be distracted by a friend wanting to talk, an interesting article or three on Facebook. Bruce might want to go to town. The weather can demand a response that I wasn’t planning like “Sun’s out you should ride your horse, when I felt more like doing inside work.”

Dan Russo / Unsplash

International events this year will be shaped by nationalism; policies will pursue primarily narrow self interest.

Nationalism substitutes protectionism for globalization and free trade. It explains both Brexit and Boris Johnson. It rejects Obama's multilateralism for Trump's "America First." It drove the global shift from pro to anti immigration policies. It explains at least some of the assertive, even aggressive, foreign policies that have caused such seismic shocks.

Perspective: Some Gifts Unwrap The Heart

Jan 17, 2020
Lonny Cain

Mary Oliver was a gift. 


That is the simplest way to put it. 


Perspective: Don't Be Afraid To Take More Space

Jan 16, 2020
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

You know when you read something powerful, and it just sticks with you? Recently my sister, who teaches yoga, shared this important message: “you deserve to take up space, on and off the mat.”

Perspective: My Prayer For 2020

Jan 15, 2020
Javardh / Unsplash



Perspective: Be There For Each Other

Jan 14, 2020
Taylor Hernandez / Unsplash

Happy new year, listeners. Life can be challenging at times, but sometimes it is more than just feeling down. Depression is a common, serious, treatable mental health illness that affects 7% of adults and teens.


Depression is not simply a bad mood, but a chemically-based phenomenon that needs more than just a good ear or strong shoulder to cry on. Oftentimes friends and family do not know how to help a struggling loved one, typically assuming the problem is simply emotional, not chemical.


Perspective: Our Loss

Jan 13, 2020
Paula Garrett

Several decades ago, I was staying at my sister’s when her house caught fire, a harrowing experience that left a deep imprint. Now my adoptive country is an inferno, and I can’t fathom the news and what I'm hearing from my friends there. 



Perspective: We Can All Be Good Samaritans

Jan 10, 2020

The dictionary defines "sanctuary" as a place of worship, or a place of refuge and protection. Recently, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a mosque there became both.

When high school student Duaa Ahmad and her classmates evacuated their school after a threatening incident, she led them directly across the street to her mosque, where she quickly got the doors open and took refuge inside with the others.

As the students of all faiths entered, no one was subjected to a theological purity test. No one was barred as unworthy or kept from seeking shelter.

Perspective: Drop Everything And Read!

Jan 9, 2020
Iam Se7en / Unsplash

My son recently scolded me for the lack of D.E.A.R. in my life. It turns out that his elementary school has a program called Drop Everything And Read, when everyone in his class stops all activities to read for a set period of time. Apparently, I need to do the same.