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#1306 – Dick Bernard: The Avenue of the Saints

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

About a week ago, I packed my bag and got on the road, destination an annual meeting of Citizens for Global Solutions near Lambert St. Louis Airport, St. Louis MO.

Over 500 miles later, I arrived at my destination, both exhausted and energized. It was good to see the open country between St. Paul and St. Louis, traveling I-494, U.S. 52, 63, I-380, IA 27, U.S. 61, and I-70 (to minimize confusion, the route is more or less a straight line from St. Paul to St. Louis). We are a very large and very diverse country, if one takes a moment to look.

Somewhere around Iowa City, on 27, I began to see a repetitive road sign:

(click to enlarge)

Somewhere in southern Iowa October 20, 2017

I could see the word “Saints” on the distinct road signs, but finally had to stop and read the rest of the story, and take the photo of Avenue of the Saints, unfortunately with the fleur de lis “impaled”. There oughta be a law!

There had to be a story. Back home I looked it up. You can read the fascinating story here. The “Saints” are St. Paul and St. Louis….

Such journeys have always fascinated me…49 states so far in life. Not much interested in the 50th – Alaska. Maybe I’ll still make it, but it’s not on my “bucket list”.

Even at highway speed, there is much to notice along the way. Friend Steve, hailing from Cedar Rapids, advised bypassing Waterloo due to road construction. His diversion allowed me to see the towns of Raymond and Dewar, and at least wonder about the town a few miles to the right on C66, Dunkerton.

The route took me to the outskirts of Hannibal, Tom Sawyer’s town. “Been there, done that” back in 1976 – stopped for coffee there, both enroute to and from.

After the conference in St. Louis, rendezoused with my brother in Belleville, at beautiful Our Lady of the Snows, where our Dad lived the last ten years of his life, dying there in 1997.

We took a trip to the nearby and very interesting Cahokia Mounds park, and I managed to get a good photo of downtown St. Louis a few miles away.

St. Louis from Cahokia Mounds IL Oct 23, 2017

On the 24th I headed home the same way I’d come, this time deciding to stop at a single point of interest I’d noted on the trip down, found east of Lourdes, Iowa.

Hwy 63, Iowa, south of Lourdes, Oct 24, 2017

The diversion six miles east was well worth the trip, even though there was no one there, and it was a chilly and very windy day.

At the farm site was the country school Dr. Borlaug attended (he was born in 1914). Also, some displays, one shown below.

Dr. Borlaug’s country school, opened in 1865.

Norman Borlaug Oct 24, 2017

Back home I wrote a note a good friend, born and raised on a farm, who I first met as an 8th grader in 1953-54, as follows:

“I made one stop enroute home which may interest you, as a farmer. One of the premier world agricultural experts – a Nobel Peace Prize winner – was Norman Borlaug of rural Cresco Iowa (perhaps six miles south of Cresco, about the same east of Lourdes, Iowa). I saw a sign pointing to the place where he grew up, and I drove the six miles off route 63 to see the place. It was chilly and windy and I was the only person there, but a fascinating stop. Here’s the web description of Dr. Borlaug.

His cousin was the country school teacher, and she recommended to his parents that he go to high school. She said he wasn’t the best student, but he had the attitude he needed to succeed. She called that one right!!!!

I once did a blog which referred to a chance meeting of my uncle and aunt with Borlaug, probably down in the Hankinson area of ND: You can read it here. The meeting with Dr. Borlaug was a vivid memory for Vince. It probably was sometime not long after he had won the Peace Prize. We all have our stories.”

In short order, my friend, a retired scientist, responded with his own message, which added to the learning experience of my week.

“Interesting article on Dr. Borlaug. There are a lot of people that have made great contributions to their respective fields, but as you know from my preoccupation with the forthcoming Ice Age and issues like that, what we need more of are folks that are big-picture thinkers. I was seeing on TV that the efforts of the Gates Foundation may completely eliminate polio. We spend much money on saving children from starvation and other preventable diseases, and yet, as per the population growth curve that I have shown you that I refer to as the “human stupidity index”, there will come a time when billions of people will be dying as nature reduces the earth’s human population back down to somewhere around 3 billion over the next millennium or two. As I have told you, my greatest charitable contributions are now focused on population reduction. I can’t do it by myself, and there are those that detest the idea of population control, but I will keep doing my bit to hopefully reduce the number of people that will lose their lives to natures forces as time goes on.”

In my life, I have found that there is lots to learn, and lots of richness in differences of opinion. Point of fact: I basically agree with my friends concern. What are we leaving those who come after us?

Returning home I did the periodic newsletter for my Minnesota Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions. You are welcome to read it here: CGS News Nov 2017 Final-2. Of course, you can join an e-list for this five times a year newsletter if you wish. Just let me know: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

Coming soon: Some thoughts a year after November 8, 2016.

#503 – Dick Bernard: Beginning a week with MLK; Ending a week with OWS

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Thursday night I was part of a near overflow crowd as Prof. David Schultz of Hamline University spoke on the topic “Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and the Twilight of American Capitalism“. Those who are old hands at the Thursday night sessions of the program of Citizens for Global Solutions could remember only one other program rivalling this one as a draw. There were about 60 persons in attendance.

The outline of the presentation is accessible here, with permission of the speaker: David Schultz occupy wall street and the twilight of american capitalism-1

I felt it was a very worthwhile evening. Here’s a photo (click to enlarge):

David Schultz (at left) and Citizens for Global Solutions President Joe Schwartzberg, January 19, 2012

Friday morning, enroute to another meeting on cold and snowy I-94 in St Paul, I noted a bunch of folks near a very simple and clear banner on a walkway over the Freeway:
Get Corporate Money
out of Politics

It was a clear message, no threat to traffic.
Of course this day, January 21, is the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the matter of Citizens United versus Federal Elections Commission. has all the details….

Also during this week organizers delivered over 1,000,000 signatures on petitions to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. It was a much higher turnout than anticipated. It spoke volumes – or, shall I say, boxes – all by itself.

And Wikipedia, Google and many other websites joined an on-line demonstration to call attention to SOPA and PIPA, two pieces of legislation that would normally fly under the radar. (See my Jan. 18 blogpost on the topic here.)

This was quite a week, beginning with Fr. Greg Miller reading from Martin Luther King’s “Where do we go from here?” speech to the 10th annual convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August, 1967, ten months before he was assassinated. Access to the entire speech is here. It is very well worth reading in its entirety. Here’s a sample: “…[C]ommunism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social…and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism….”

Of course, MLK was often accused of being communist, but the epithet just didn’t stick, but it, and its supposed synonyms, are still trotted out as false indictments. That’s why I have the quote here.

Driving home from Prof. Schultz’s talk I kept thinking of a gift received from Twin Cities activist Lydia Howell in December, 2006. It was a used copy of Martin Luther King’s book “Why We Can’t Wait”, about the watershed civil rights year of 1963, published shortly after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

King covered the waterfront in this small book, which is still readily available (see here, and many other sources).

OWS has been immensely successful to this point, and is now in a period of reflection about next steps.

Dr. King remains with us in words, and in spirit.

In Why We Can’t Wait he speaks profoundly of “The Days to Come” in the final chapter. Here’s a teaser quote from President Kennedy to Dr. King in 1963: “Our judgment of Bull Connor should not be too harsh, he commented…. ”

You’ll have to read the book to get the context.

Please do.

My own recommendations to the OWS and similar movements:
1) OWS and others need to change the conversation about both “them”, and “us”. For instance, what do the greedy winners have to lose by winning? A great deal, actually, but you need to think about it – to turn the conventional interpretation upside down and look at the issue from the other side. And the same kind of questions can and should be raised about your own movements….
2) The movements could benefit by a deep discussion of the meaning of the word POWER. Here’s a place to start….
3) Gandhi said “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Gandhi was one of King’s heroes. Both are gone. “WE MUST…” Theirs were very big shoes, but WE MUST…. As Margaret Mead said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed that is the only thing that ever has.” I reference both of them here – two at-home examples of people who made a difference.

Lee Dechert, whose passion is the dangers posed by man-induced climate change, commented about 'occupy the earth' in the question and answer session January 19.