Perspectives

Did you miss an essay from your favorite "Perspectives" writer? Want to hear it again? Scroll down to find a complete archive of our "Perspectives" essays. You'll find the most recent at the top.

To find out more about each writer, click on his or her name at the bottom of each entry.

If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, compose a piece that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 230 to 250 words, as counted by Microsoft Word -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu. Be sure to put "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Northern Public Radio invites you to comment on or respond to any Perspective in the comments section at the bottom of each article, in keeping with our Discussion Policy.

As You Shop, So Shall You Reap

Jul 19, 2018

There are several biblical references concerning “we reap what we sow.” In Eastern religions, it’s the concept of receiving good karma or bad karma. Many communities of northern Illinois are now witnessing the devastating effects of online shopping. Retailers are leaving the area at an increasing rate. This leaves our area more and more of a retail wasteland. 

Who Loves The Little Children Of The World?

Jul 18, 2018

 

Summer is vacation Bible school season. Churches host children for crafts, games, and singing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world….”  

 

 

Be A Guard Dog

Jul 17, 2018

Recently in our sheep pasture, we found a healthy lamb with its throat gouged out, the sad victim of a coyote strike.  Thankfully, no other lambs or mothers were harmed.  After blocking the hole dug under the pasture fence, we made sure our Great Pyrenees guard dog was out with the sheep to protect them each night.

In a Perspective broadcast a seeming lifetime ago - last year - I offered up a suggestion to the opposition party, which is eternally, almost comically awful at branding and self-promotion.

Remember First Grade? Me Neither.

Jul 13, 2018

When I was about five years old, a man named Grady French told me that I had once sleepwalked from my bedroom to downtown Mart, Texas. To be sure, this was only three blocks of soporific strolling, but it was still no mean feat.

I have no memory of ever having done this. And I’m not even sure that Mr. French told me I had. Maybe I just dreamt the whole thing.

Words Have Power

Jul 12, 2018

Hitler called the Jews subhuman disease-carrying rats.

Words like these have been used throughout history to dehumanize groups and to make it acceptable to treat them like animals  --  to eliminate them, to perform experiments on them, to kill them. Dehumanizing words are part of a demagogue’s tool chest. The goal is to convince the public it is OK to mistreat those other, lesser people.

It’s tempting to look at the enormity of the Nazi holocaust, with the huge scale of the killing, as a one-time madness that infected Germany and was cured.

The #MeToo Backlash: We Can Do Better

Jul 11, 2018

The #MeToo movement created a swarm of energy and dialogue around the topic of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.

The Power Of American Opportunity

Jul 10, 2018

Summer vacation allows kids this opportunity to live their own dreams for a short time.

Kids all around me are breaking down their classroom’s four walls to engage in a larger learning experience.  This month, I’ve seen kids taking classes, learning new instruments, practicing a foreign language, working a job, paddling the Boundary waters, exploring their minds, talents, and interests.  

 

These kids’ American Dreams of opportunity and learning inspire me.

Lost Children In A Lost Nation

Jul 9, 2018

“Dad when are you coming to get me?”

The father put the phone down, unable to speak. His sobs choked his voice.

He sat in his one room house deep in Mexico after being separated from his daughter at the border and deported.

We have all seen the photos by now. Children of all ages trying to sleep fully clothed in wire cages under aluminum foil. Some curled up in balls of terror. Others sobbing in the dark. Little ones crying out for their mother.

 

The United States, built upon principles of equality and pragmatism, champions identities based on what people do --- not upon where they were born. Until recently, in older civilizations, the career question “what are you going to be when you grow up?” sounded strange for its equation of occupation with Being. You already were what you were. 

Your Job Vs. Your Place In The World

Jul 5, 2018

Last month, an old friend reached out to discuss her fear that her husband was suffering from something she called, “Work Separation Anxiety.” Not only did he struggle with committing to take vacation days, he also had trouble taking time away for “life or death” absences such as loved ones’ funerals or his own hospital stay.

My Sister Got It Right

Jul 4, 2018

Five years ago, my sister Dori died suddenly from a stroke. She and I rarely agreed on anything — she was a Cubs fan, I am a Sox fan. In the presidential elections, we usually cancelled out each other’s votes.

However, she once confided in me that she had quit supporting George W. Bush after the Hurricane Katrina debacle. As a lawyer, my sister, when confronted with facts, could come up with some surprising turnabouts.

Sometimes, I wonder what my sister would think about the political scene nowadays. But I think I can make an educated guess, based on her legal career.

Dorothy's Gifts

Jul 3, 2018

It seemed like all my friends were getting married and I was always a bridesmaid. 

I was on my way to graduate school. A family friend, Dorothy Harro gave me two gifts. 

The first was a set of Pfaltzgraff dishes that I still use today. She didn’t want me to feel left out with all these weddings. She said she was proud of me and my independence.

The second was a day trip to go canoeing on Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks. We marveled at how mysterious a black line of rain looked. 

The Declaration That Still Binds Us

Jul 2, 2018

Independence Day approaches. We will celebrate not only our birth as a sovereign nation; we will renew also our commitment to the great social contract proclaimed in the Declaration. We define ourselves by our belief in equality, and our mutual pledge to respect the right to life, to liberty, and to pursue our own happiness.

Comforting The Caregiver

Jun 29, 2018

My friend Bill is a caregiver -- every day -- because he lives with and loves the person he cares for. Every choice he makes must involve and revolve around the person he cares for.

It’s important to understand that Bill also needs the person he monitors and nurtures. Love has tied a knot that binds them.

Bill recently shared on Facebook a meditation from “Daily Comforts for Caregivers” by Pat Samples. Please listen:

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.

Time to 'Soften' Our Schools

Jun 27, 2018
NIU

When the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School started the #neveragain movement, I was optimistic that these well-spoken, passionate young people would be able to change the hearts and minds of lawmakers and other leaders to increase access to mental health care and pass common-sense gun laws.

I hoped that, as a nation, we would undertake a coordinated effort to make our precious young people and dedicated educators safe in our schools. Sadly, we are once again faced with another mass school shooting – this time in Santa Fe, Texas.

The Wizard Behind The Works

Jun 26, 2018

I’m intrigued by the creativity that lies behind the scenes in music, film, theater, and writing. Those people whose names may be unfamiliar, but whose work and talent are fundamental to the production or composition – studio musicians and web designers, theatrical prop builders, and movie location scouts.

And have you thought about who’s behind radio productions like this one? Sound engineers, producers, and most definitely, editors.

America, Who Are We?

Jun 25, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

I am sick. I am sick because I have lost who we are.

What do we stand for? I used to think I knew but, over the last couple of years, I have become less and less sure.

After a campaign of sexist, racist, classist xenophobia, we elected Donald Trump. In the aftermath, the most unsavory elements of our citizenry emerged, emboldened. Since then, the respect and sanctity of our most fundamental cornerstones are crumbling out of political ambition … and winning.

The Benefits Of Civility

Jun 22, 2018

Seated across the table from me was a gentleman whose social and political beliefs were, to say the least, the polar opposite of my own.

I listened quietly as he expounded on a number of issues and bided my time. Typically I have no problem expressing my point of view in these discussions, but this was not a typical situation.

When he sensed my reticence, I joked that -- in the interest of group harmony -- I was suppressing my liberal viewpoint. He laughed, but he understood my reasoning. What was about to take place would be a first for both of us.

It Shouldn't Always Take A Law

Jun 21, 2018

Gun control and pro-life advocates look toward legislation for solutions. Ironically, on the other side of both: Gun rights and pro-choice advocates argue that the state should mind its own business and respect individual rights.

But what is left out is the potential for common ground and hard work.

I imagine we all would like a world where fewer people were killed by gun violence as well as a world with little to no unwanted pregnancies. These are worthy, complicated, and ambitious goals.

A Dream Instilled By Memories

Jun 20, 2018

I suffer from an affliction I call Cabin Dreams.

The roots of my disorder are traceable to childhood. I grew up on the shores of the Kishwaukee River near Kirkland. In the summers, once school was out, my family packed up the Buick and headed north to Wisconsin, to our knotty pine cabin on Blue Spring Lake.

Oh, time at the cabin was exquisite: pancakes for breakfast each morning, one pine drawer for all my belongings, and the lake itself, which seemed to bend summer days to its own shape, with shallow bays and windy points and a middle part deep and fathomless.

What Do We Have To Do?

Jun 19, 2018

In college I raised $52 for cancer. I walked miles in my achy body because I supported cancer research, but also because it was the most relatable cause I could find. Like sickle cell, cancer patients called the hospital their second home.

Everyone cares about something outside of themselves. It’s the definition of humanity. It’s the reason there are advocates who walk miles for a cause. 

Flags And Facts And Falsehoods

Jun 18, 2018

A few weeks ago, I was driving down a residential street in a familiar town here in north central Illinois. Hanging outside one of these houses that lined this street was not one but two Confederate flags.

I went a little further down the same street and noticed another flag on another house, but this one was only half Confederate; the other half displayed the American flag. I was tempted to check the date on my phone to make sure I wasn’t in some time warp, but I didn’t. I knew I was still indeed in May 2018.

Think About What She Can Do

Jun 15, 2018

There is a new robot in town. Her name is Sophia. She was designed and built by Hanson Robotics.

And she is popular. Sophia was featured on the Jimmy Kimmel show, has appeared on the cover of Elle, and was recently granted honorary citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

But not everyone likes Sophia. There has been considerable resistance from experts in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics. For these critics, Sophia is nothing more than a puppet —more smoke and mirrors and less actual science. And they are not necessarily wrong.

A Bit Of Respect, If You Please

Jun 14, 2018

With Flag Day upon us, I am about to go into my annual frenzy about something most people have unlearned from grade school. That is, respect for the flag.

Even the basic things like not having it out in the rain or at night without a light are way beyond people who want to show their love for America — 24/7, rain or not. I guess we are supposed to comment on how patriotic they are, ignoring the fact they are ignorant of rules of respect or just lazy.

A Book With Lessons And Memories

Jun 13, 2018

A book written in Portuguese in 1968 has a special place in my heart.

As a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, I joined others to attend some informal evening seminars in the home of one of our professors to hear about a book he was translating by a Brazilian teacher. So we lounged on the living room floor of Dr. Richard Shaull, discussing Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire.

It's Time To Get Serious About This

Jun 12, 2018

How much longer are we Americans going to stay silent and side-lined as our federal government’s executive branch, led by Donald Trump, swerves out of control, pouncing on one constitutional norm after another?

As the unraveling of what used to be normal quickens and becomes more disgusting, are we just going to sit like immersed toads in a pot, unaware the temperature is rising?

Why Make The Children Suffer?

Jun 11, 2018

On May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies on the topic of immigration enforcement.

“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” 

Taking The Guilt Out Of Pleasure

Jun 8, 2018

We’ve all heard of guilty pleasures, such as Dove Bars, but even better are the guilty pleasure you can clear yourself of. These are pleasures where you’re guilty but figure out ways to prove yourself to be innocent.

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