WNIJ Perspectives

Perspective: End Of An Era

Jan 8, 2020
Johnell Pannell / Unsplash

The holiday shopping is over and everyone is busy playing with their new toys. But what was remarkable about Christmas 2019 might have been the conspicuous absence of such toys.

Previous holiday seasons saw the introduction of impressive technological wonders -- tablet computers, the iPhone, Nintendo Wii and the X-box. But this year, there was no stand-out, got-to-have technological object.

Perspective: Lurking In The Last Wilderness

Jan 7, 2020
Chris Fink

On the night after Christmas, I was ice fishing on Carlin Lake near Presque Isle, what they call “Wisconsin’s Last Wilderness.” Part bored, and part cold, I gazed across the dark lake at the warm lights of the Carlin Lake Lodge. Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne had both lodged here back in the day, evidently. Imagine those two in the same room.

I noticed that I had a flag up on my tip-up. Finally. I knelt to set the hook.

Perspective: 2020 Is A Precipice Year

Jan 6, 2020

As I write this on the first day of 2020, I’m not certain that a “Happy New Year” is in order. This new year has a good chance of becoming what I would call a precipice year the same way that 1775, 1850, 1861, 1877, 1941 and 1968 were. If one reads enough history, one will soon learn that as a country we have not always done the right things. However, at least in the long run, right has prevailed over wrong. 


Perspective: The Cat's Approach To Play

Jan 3, 2020
Francisco Solares-Larrave

Cats play a lot. Experts say it's an activity that keeps their hunting instincts alive, but I disagree. In my experience, cat's play is a very serious endeavor, not a sport. Just pay attention to your feline companion.

Perspective: Patience And Passion

Jan 2, 2020
Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Embarking on a new year, I’d like to talk about “patience.” Webster defines patience as a “calm endurance,” “persevering,” or “calmly tolerating delay.” While these behaviors are helpful when obstacles threaten to sabotage a goal, I’d like to consider “patience” in a more positive, intentional, and interactive way. 


Perspective: A Warning From A Partisan

Jan 1, 2020

I am a partisan, in my politics and my theology, which means I must keep my mouth shut at thanksgiving dinners. I am partial to Democrats because I am partial to the Judeo-Christian tradition that proclaims God’s partiality toward the widow and the orphan, those dispossessed in our society.

But I have a confession to make. My partiality caused me to vote for Governor Rod Blagojevich two times. I am ashamed that I allowed him to fool me not once, but twice. It embarrasses me to admit that blind partisanship led me to ignore the signs of his corruption.

Perspective: Ready For 'Real ID?'

Dec 31, 2019
Kurious, Ag Ku / Pixabay, edited with Pixlr

A “Real ID” will be required in October 2020 to get into federal buildings, onto commercial aircraft, admitted to nuclear plants, and for any “official purpose” as defined and required by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Perspective: Cocktail Party Fodder

Dec 30, 2019
JJ Harrison, CC BY-SA 3.0 / (picsart)

Ah, the holidays are upon us. Time for parties and get-togethers. Time for laughter and love. 


Perspective: The Disillusionments Of Wikipedia

Dec 27, 2019
public domain

Not so long ago I went to YouTube and watched a few old Roy Rogers TV episodes. They brought back how much I, as a kid, admired Roy as a Western hero. In a single episode, he could sing three songs, ride his palomino at full gallop, beat up and capture a few bad guys, and still, his cowboy outfit yet looking resplendent, share a few jokes about Nellybelle, the cranky old jeep on the show. Not even Superman was that good. Superman never sang a note. 

Perspective: An Important Political Omission

Dec 26, 2019

At last Thursday’s Democratic debate Pete Buttigieg said something I hadn’t heard before. “I know you're only ever supposed to say middle class and not poor in politics,” he said, “but we've got to talk about poverty in this country.” 


Perspective: A Tradition Shines In Dark Times

Dec 24, 2019
insung-yoon / Unsplash

It’s Christmas Eve and my thoughts turn to tradition. December holds many cultural traditions that bring our lives meaning. My tradition comes from the Christmas Story.

When my children were young, we read the story about the shepherds. An angel visited the shepherds and said, “Do not be afraid.” What a strange thing for an angel to say.

Throughout the Christmas story, angels visit Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Each time, their first words are “Do not be afraid.” It‘s important, my kids thought, because it’s repeated. Perhaps we have missed something important.


As I write this it is a cold clear night. It is also the night our President was impeached. A sad day for our Country regardless of your political view.  It has been a day of bitter bickering and angry politically based debating, a day of us versus them, which has left me feeling sad and anxious.

When you hear this it will be two days before Christmas. A time of year for being together, yet this year we as a Country, will be as divided as we have ever been.

Pixabay, Wikimedia, Unsplash

Think of ballet, literature, and Goya. What comes to mind? Elitist rhetoric regarding so-called “high art” is powerful. This reality lends force to "alternative," "protest," and "people's art" of all sorts. Tolstoy describes this dichotomy in "What is Art?" Ironically, the famous novelist came to believe that "high art” lacked “naturalness,” and he rejected most literary endeavors late in life. 

Perspective: Act Now To Prevent That Post-Holiday Letdown

Dec 19, 2019

This time of year, many of us are just hours away from the start of a delightfully long holiday break. Whether you’re gearing up to celebrate the holiday in a big way or just eagerly anticipating time away from the job, your attention-to-detail may already be flagging by now. 


Perspective: In Search Of Christmas Peace

Dec 18, 2019
Marnie O. Mamminga

“I haven’t found the peace of Christmas yet,” my mother announced one Christmas over 20 years ago. She was in her eighties and still full of vim and vigor, visiting me from Ohio. 


Perspective: The Gifts I Desire Today

Dec 17, 2019
Katie Andraski

The night before Christmas I used be full of anticipation. I’d listen to my mother wrapping presents on the ironing board, the thump of boxes, the screech of paper being ripped, and folded around her gifts in the room next to mine. She worked late into the night. I fell asleep hoping I’d see my desires fulfilled. 


public domain

Apparently, any family that survived Thanksgiving intact should be thankful indeed. Media warnings abounded that impeachment disputes threatened family tranquility. One newspaper even urged that political debate be banned except in certain specially equipped "tranquility rooms." Now, ominously, we are careening toward another family holiday with the same grave danger looming. What is going on here? 


Perspective: Don't Throw Away History

Dec 13, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

In 1989, James Jordan sent a letter to his cousin, Andrew Carroll. 


A fire had destroyed the Carroll home. No one was hurt, but the loss of family photos and mementos was painful. 

In an effort to increase efficiency, I was clearing the piles from my desk yesterday. While eliminating the clutter, I was reminded of Saint Teresa of Ávila.


Born in 1515, she did not devote herself to writing and founding convents until well into her forties. Until her death at the age of 67, she wrote thousands of pages of poetry, prose and letters while on the road establishing new religious communities.


Perspective: A Cure For Stress

Dec 11, 2019
Alexas Fotos / Pixabay

Well, what do you know? It’s already the end of the year! Yeah, time flies, right?


Perspective: What Would You Do?

Dec 10, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Here’s a “What would you do if…” situation I recently encountered. Outside the Art Institute in Chicago, I saw a crowd gathered around a man with a cat and a “Grumpy Cat” sign. What alarmed me was the cat was motionless.


Something was wrong, I felt. How could a cat sit so still amid throngs of people and cars whizzing by? I could only imagine that the cat had been drugged. But I walked away -- feeling nauseous, helpless and weak.


Wonderlane / Unsplash

Does it make you sad that so many small towns are struggling? Do you get angry that online businesses don’t pay their share of property and sales taxes, and your taxes go up instead?  


Perspective: Oh, Little Elf!

Dec 6, 2019
Jill Wellington / Pixabay

Some Christmas memories begin in childhood.  But one of my favorite traditions began well into adulthood, in bed on Christmas morning, while waking up to NPR.

That was the year I was introduced to the writer David Sedaris, as I listened for the first time to his recollections of the holidays in what has become an NPR Christmas morning tradition, The Santaland Diaries.

Perspective: The Force Is Strong With This One

Dec 5, 2019
mnm.all / Unsplash

I am a 46-year-old Star Wars fan. I have read all the new books and watched all the animated series. I preordered Disney+ several months early just so I could watch The Mandalorian on day one. And I own the new video game where I get to be a Jedi who escaped the purge. 


Perspective: The Wrong Message

Dec 4, 2019
PDPhotos / Pixabay

Outgoing Kentucky governor Matt Bevin is using his final days in office to make a powerful statement. On Nov. 22, Bevin announced he was pardoning Paul Hurt, a man serving life in prison for sexually abusing his six-year-old stepdaughter. If there is one thing I thought we could agree on, even in a country as divided as ours seems to be, I thought we could all agree that the abuse of children is a heinous crime for which people should be punished. 

Perspective: The Very Windy Day

Dec 3, 2019
Jimmy Lau / Pixabay

If you’re ridiculous like me, you think the weather owes you something, and when it doesn’t give you what you deserve, you get grumpy.  


Perspective: How We Become Who We Are

Dec 2, 2019
Photo illustration/public domain, Gage Skidmore / CC by SA-2.0

A few days ago, I posed this question to my students: “How much could another person come to know about you by both looking through your phone and knowing who your friends are?” Their answer was no surprise: a lot! 


Perspective: Free App, Free Speech?

Nov 29, 2019

Have you heard about TikTok?

TikTok is a video-sharing application developed by the Beijing-based Internet start-up ByteDance. The app has been wildly popular with teenagers all over the world. How popular? 1.2 billion installs as of June 2019, making TikTok the first Chinese app to achieve international scale.

Perspective: A Dear Thanksgiving Memory

Nov 28, 2019



Perspective: Our Missing Women And Girls

Nov 27, 2019
Ehimetalor Unuabona / Unsplash/Pixlr

The media is one of the most powerful and influential institutions in America. Media outlets have the ability to shape narratives and conversations with limited or an overabundance of information. Conservative, moderate and liberal outlets create storylines through varying perspectives.