WNIJ Perspectives

Perspective: A Commitment Worth Keeping

Sep 3, 2019
Katie Andraski

I came this close to selling my young mare. She was five. When she was displeased, she snapped her big white teeth at me and she bucked, with the most beautiful light buck when I pulled her away from grass. I was simply leading her. What would she do under saddle? I don’t bounce. I don’t have those youthful anti-fear hormones. Not only that, she and my other mare roared like dinosaurs trying to kill each other. My friends told me to sell her.

Perspective: What Is 'Work' In America Today?

Sep 2, 2019
Karl Magnuson/Unsplash

Today is Labor Day. As we pause from work, we should pause to examine the troubling conditions of work in America today. 


“I yam what I yam.” 


Perspective: Produce, Preserve, Prepare!

Aug 29, 2019
Natalie Rhea-Riggs / Unsplash


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: Walking In Jane's Shoes

Aug 28, 2019
public domain

On a recent trip to England, I was fortunate to make a side trip into London where I visited Toynbee Hall, the settlement house that inspired Jane Addams to found Hull House in Chicago in 1889. After graduating from Rockford Female Seminary, now Rockford University, Addams traveled to Europe, where she saw the extreme poverty of the East End of London, an area ridden with crime and a few years later the site of the Jack the Ripper murders.  

Perspective: Identity Theft Through The Ages

Aug 27, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

My sister has had her identity stolen numerous times, and I’d wager you know people who have also experienced it, if you haven’t yourself. “Identity theft” seems like a modern phrase, yet when you stop and think about it, identities have been systematically stolen throughout history. 

Perspective: Our Nation's Original Sin

Aug 26, 2019
J. M. W. Turner / public domain

In late August of 1619, 400 years ago, the English ship the White Lion landed on the shore of Virginia selling a cargo of enslaved Africans. It is argued this was the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States. However, the practice of the transatlantic slave trade actually predated 1619 by 100 years. Additionally, the Africans in that cargo were not the first living in North America. Africans had been living here freely since the early 1500s.  

Perspective: Words Matter

Aug 23, 2019

Words matter. That point was driven home recently by my church's minister, as he reflected on how the hateful rhetoric against Hispanics influenced the murderous rampage in El Paso. 

Words matter. One Fox News commentator opined, "I'm not against immigrants; I'm for Americans," as if the two, somehow, were mutually exclusive groups of humanity. 

Perspective: Parenting Wins

Aug 22, 2019

In my 15+ years as a parent, I’ve long maintained that sharing life lessons and advice and molding and shaping your kids is best done tapas-style, rather than buffet-style. 

Small bites, served often, are more effective than loading your kids up in one shot with an overloaded plate of guidelines they can’t digest. 

Perspective: The Pursuit Of Power

Aug 21, 2019
Jeffrey Hamilton / Unsplash

Forty-five years ago this month, President Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace.  


Chris FInk



Perspective: Peace, Love...And Gerrymandering?

Aug 19, 2019

The recent anniversary of the music festival Woodstock reminds me that the tenets of the hippie generation represented by that event — peace over war, love over hate, and recognition that we’re all in this life and world together — have been mostly on the rise for the last 50 years. Both political parties found some value in those messages, if not always in the same way. But now, those who oppose those views are no longer willing to accept their minority status.

Perspective: Worth It?

Aug 16, 2019
Ann Hetzel Gunkel

Earlier this summer I told you about Monty and Rose, two piping plovers that decided to take up residence at Montrose Beach in Chicago.  


Perspective: Anxiety Is Contagious

Aug 15, 2019
Gino Crescoli/Pixabay

“Anxiety is contagious. When you share an anxiety with someone, you feel better, but the listener may feel worse.” Reading this, I wondered, “Am I spreading the virus of anxiety when I talk about my dismay with what is happening to our democracy, our values, and our nation’s center of gravity?” 

Perspective: We Must, We Can, We Will!

Aug 14, 2019
Photo courtesy of Nina Dulabaum

Journeying home from Minneapolis as newly trained Climate Reality Leaders, our vehicle was bursting with talk, laughter, tears and singing as we shared experiences and exchanged notes for planning future actions.

What really resonated with me is the reality of choice. We still have significant choices -- and the legacy we leave future generations will bear witness to our actions.

Perspective: A Small Kindness Can Make A Big Difference

Aug 13, 2019
Michael Schwarzenberger / Pixabay

When we think of people who changed our lives, I think most view long-term events. But when I look back, I realize that a few people influenced my life with a single act of kindness.

Perspective: What IF People 'Go Back?'

Aug 12, 2019

A Marvel character snaps his fingers and half of our population turns into dust. That is an alluring thought for some. What if a large swath of our population not born in the U.S. similarly exited, to “go back home?”  

Perspective: Bullet The Wonder Dog -- And Me

Aug 9, 2019

My wife’s great aunt married John F. Kennedy’s great uncle. This was in 1928. Jack Kennedy would have been eleven and was likely at the wedding. This means that my wife is only five or six degrees of separation from President Kennedy. It means that I’m only six or seven degrees of separation from President Kennedy. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Perspective: Ageism

Aug 8, 2019


Growing older is a fact of life that most people dread. We’re embarrassed to be called old. 

Perspective: The Right Side Of History

Aug 7, 2019
Pixabay. Pixlr

History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes, as Mark Twain reputedly said.  


Perspective: Routine, Please!

Aug 6, 2019
robinsan via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some people say there is a season for everything. I reflect on that saying during mundane moments. Routines are followed and no surprises occur. Living in routine time is nice because it’s easy and predictable. I often stop and lavish in the moment of living routinely because I know it won’t last and I will long for routine and predictability at some point. 

Perspective: Thousands Will Lose Benefits

Aug 5, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Editor's note: The audio portion of this Perspective is incorrect in the number of Americans who are food-insecure. The correct number is 1 in 8, which was in the original script.  

“I’ve never done this before,” a woman tells me as I help her sign up for food assistance at the Grow Mobile pop-up pantry. “My husband has been ill, and I had to quit my job to take care of him.” One of millions of stories. 


Perspective: Finding The Sublime In The Everyday

Aug 2, 2019
Neal Herbert / National Park Service

What causes awe? It’s felt in the presence of nature and incredible feats of human creation. To feel it daily requires wise humility and awareness. 


Perspective: Firefly Friendships

Aug 1, 2019
TCMerlot / Pixabay

Have you ever struck up a surprisingly close friendship with a stranger you’ve just met on vacation? I call these “firefly friendships.” Fireflies symbolize communication and illumination – two necessary elements for connecting with new friends that we would never have noticed in our usual domestic habitats. 


Susan Stephens

In my 34 years working as a climatologist in Illinois, I have seen a lot -- from the Great Floods of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in 1993 and 2013 to the crippling droughts of 1988 and 2012.

Perspective: Is Trump A Prophet For Our Times?

Jul 30, 2019
Katie Andraski

Back in the day, prophets wore animal skins, ate locusts and honey, stood by rivers, cried, “Repent!” These days, Donald Trump calls us to repentance. After all, hasn’t he risen out of the sea of our culture like the beast in Revelation?

The fact we elected Trump as president points to our flaws as a culture. He’s a narcissist, convinced only he can solve our nation’s problems. But don’t we shrug off help, certain we can do it ourselves? And haven’t we made selfishness a virtue, calling it self-care or following our dreams, while our loved ones cry for our attention?

Perspective: Involvement, Not Isolation

Jul 29, 2019
stokpik / Pixabay

Politicians fixate on domestic issues, and thus do us a disservice. Urgent as these issues are, we also face urgent international problems. In order to preserve domestic tranquility, we must meet these challenges.

Lonny Cain

Think about this the next time you pick up a book: You are holding history. 


I'm talking about personal history. Other people's lives, moods ... even maybe what they had for breakfast. 

Perspective: Sticks, Stones, Words

Jul 25, 2019
Vadym Lebedych / Unsplash


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.  

Perspective: Your Blinker's On

Jul 24, 2019
Ke Hugo / Pixabay

When I was little, I remember whiling away summer evenings by catching fireflies.