Reparation

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

December 30, 2017

What Did Mary Really Know?

Every year during the Christmas Season, there are articles published that are critical of the song, Mary Did You Know. As expected, in early December, Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, published an article with the title, “The Problem With ‘Mary Did You Know.’” In the article, Fr. McTeigue criticized the following lyrics: “Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

Fr. McTeigue’s complaint was that the lyrics imply that Mary was a sinner who needed to be delivered from her sins. This is contrary to Catholic doctrine which states that Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin from the moment of her immaculate conception, which allowed her to be a pure vessel in which the Son of God could be conceived and born without ever having come into contact with sin.

Another article that was published before Christmas stated that the song implies that Mary was not fully aware that she was the mother of God. The article went on to say that anyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that Mary possessed knowledge that she was the Mother of God, not only because of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:26-56), but also because of her “song of praise” — known as “The Magnificat” — which indicated that she was aware of her role in the salvation of mankind. Here are the first two sentences of the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaid. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for he who is mighty, has done great things for me and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)

Whenever I read anything about the life of Mary, I think about a book that I read in the early 1980s, while I was in law school. The title of the book was, The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary. The content for the book was taken from the recorded visions of the well-known 19th-century Catholic mystic, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824).

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

November 11, 2017

Thoughts, Prayers, and Gun Control

Last week, after a mentally deranged gunman killed 26 people in a church in Texas, Paul Ryan, the Catholic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent out a tweet that said, “Reports out of Texas are devastating. The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now.” Several other individuals sent tweets that also said that their thoughts and prayers were with the families of the victims.

After the initial round of tweets, a firestorm erupted on social media. Several politicians and celebrities blasted Speaker Ryan and the other individuals by stating that thoughts and prayers would not accomplish anything, and that only concrete action, such as gun control, would stop the shootings.

One of Speaker Ryan’s colleagues, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, tweeted, “They were praying when it happened. They don’t need our prayers. They need us to address gun violence crisis and pass sensible regulation.”

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, tweeted. “If thoughts and prayers alone prevented gun violence, we wouldn’t be shot in places of worship. God calls on us to ACT.”

In her 2003 book, Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Celebration of Black Prayer, Coretta Scott King, the wife of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote about what happened one evening after her husband was awakened by a “threatening and abusive phone call.”

She wrote that after her husband hung up the phone, he “bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God: ‘Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.’”

October 14, 2017

Wild Fires, Calamities, and Climate Change

If you pay attention to the news, you know about the wildfires in California. I’m writing this article on Friday, October 13, 2017. There are currently several fires that are burning out of control in California. Firefighters have not been able to contain any of the fires. So far, more than 5,700 buildings have been destroyed and 34 people have died as a result of the fires.

Thousands of homes are still in danger of being burned to the ground. The path of the fires is completely unpredictable because no one knows how strong the winds are going to get or when the winds will shift course. One of my older brothers, Mike, lives with his wife in Santa Rosa, California, which is one of the cities that was hit by the wildfires. While several areas that surround my brother’s neighborhood were destroyed by fire, his neighborhood was spared. Unfortunately, there’s still a chance that the fire will come roaring back into his neighborhood. I would appreciate it if you would say a prayer that everything will go well for my brother, his wife, and their property.

The wildfires in California came only a month after Hurricane Irma left a devastating path of destruction in the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. In addition to the widespread destruction that was caused by Hurricane Irma, there were 134 deaths, most of which occurred in the United States. A month before Hurricane Irma arrived, hurricane Harvey barreled through Texas causing extensive property damage, flooding, and 77 confirmed deaths.

Of course, each time one of these devastating natural disasters occurs, we are lectured by Hollywood celebrities, the talking heads in the media, and various “experts” from around the world that the disasters are being caused by climate change. We are then told that we should listen to these so-called experts, so they can tell us what needs to be done to eliminate future catastrophic events.

June 17, 2017

Repairing the Damage

During a recent storm, the electrical power in my daughter Maria’s house went out. Maria and her husband have four young children. Several other homes in their neighborhood also lost power. Apparently, a couple of trees were hit by lightning and one of the trees fell and snapped a power line.

After Maria learned that the power company had put out a statement that the electricity would not be restored until the following morning, she emptied the contents of her refrigerator into boxes. Her husband then took the boxes over to a relative’s house to store the items in the relative’s refrigerator. Maria wasn’t worried about the items in her freezer, because depending on how full a freezer is, the items can stay frozen from 24 to 48 hours.

As promised, the power was restored the following morning, which allowed Maria and her neighbors to breathe a sigh of relief.

I have two questions for you to consider: What if the power in Maria’s neighborhood had been off for a month? What if the power for the entire City of Peoria had been off for a month?

While there was only a minimal amount of suffering that resulted from the power being off for less than 24 hours, there would have been an immense amount of suffering if the power had been off for a month.

The amount of suffering that is associated with a power outage is directly proportional to the time that it takes to make the necessary repairs to restore the power. The longer it takes to make the repairs, the longer and more intense the suffering.

In the spiritual world, sin works the same way. Every sin disrupts the natural order and damages a person’s relationship and standing with God. The more serious the sin, the more serious the damage.

After a sin is committed, there is suffering that occurs until the damage has been repaired. In most cases, the suffering extends beyond the person who committed the sin to the person’s immediate family. In some cases, the suffering spreads to the person’s extended family and community.

December 3, 2016

There’s a 95% Chance That You’re a Thief

it-takes-a-thiefOver the Thanksgiving holiday, I ran into a Catholic doctor that I’ve known for more than 20 years. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “Ray.” After we talked for a while, the topic of how young adults aren’t prepared for the real world came up.

Ray told me about a recent experience that he had at a local department store. While he was shopping at the store, he picked up a package of six identical items that were bundled together. When he arrived at the checkout lane, the young woman behind the counter scanned one of the six items. The amount that appeared on the cash register screen was for a single item, rather than all six of the items.

When Ray saw the single-item price on the screen, he calmly told the woman that he didn’t think that the price was correct. He explained to her that the price that was displayed should have been six times what was shown, because there were six items in the package. The woman scanned one of the items again and the same amount appeared on the screen. She then told Ray that the amount that appeared on the screen was the correct amount.

Ray was irritated with the woman and said, “Okay, if that’s the price, I’m going to go get some more packages.” He then walked over to where the items were displayed and grabbed three more packages off the shelf. The woman rang up each of the three additional packages for the single-item price.

When Ray finished telling me about his experience with the woman, I said, “You really do know better than that. Just because the woman didn’t know what she was doing, didn’t give you the right to purchase the packages at the reduced price.” He disagreed with me and said, “No, you’re wrong. Since she insisted that the price was correct, I had the right to buy as many packages as I wanted at that price.” I disagreed with him and said, “When you purchased those items, you knew that she didn’t have the authority to reduce the price of the package to the single-item price. There’s a word for what you did. It’s called theft.”

November 26, 2016

Are you on the take?

on-the-takeLast weekend, after Mass at St. Philomena Church, a young woman in her 20s approached me and asked if I would write an article about what it means to show praise and thanksgiving to our Lord. The celebration of the Mass had been in honor of Christ the King and she felt that the upcoming Thanksgiving and Advent seasons provided a perfect opportunity for us to praise and thank God for what he has done for us.

A few days after I talked to the woman, I looked up the word “thanksgiving” in the dictionary. The word was described as an “act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.” The phrase “thank you” was defined as “an expression of gratitude and appreciation to someone.”

Unfortunately, in the world in which we live, there are a lot of people who are accustomed to taking whatever they can from others without showing gratitude or appreciation for what has been given to them. The phrase that is used most often to describe those types of people is that they are “on the take.” People who are on the take have an attitude that they are deserving of what others have, or that they are entitled to take from others because they are less fortunate than the people they are taking from.

This attitude arises out of their envy and resentfulness toward people who have gifts, talents, abilities, or possessions that they don’t have.

People who are envious and resentful have trouble showing gratitude and appreciation toward others. When they fail to express gratitude to those who help them, the people who have previously helped them feel as though they have been taken for granted and stop helping them. This causes the people who failed to show appreciation to become even more envious and resentful.

Gratitude and appreciation are closely linked. An expression of gratitude is the equivalent of an expression of appreciation. There are two primary definitions of the word “appreciation.” The first definition provides that when there is appreciation, an increase in value occurs. Within the context of this definition, the word appreciation is most commonly used in the valuation of assets. For example, when we hear that there has been an appreciation of gold or stocks, we know that those items have increased in value.

May 21, 2016

Food From The Angels

Angel Food CakeHave you ever wondered who came up with the name “Angel Food Cake”? I was curious about it, so I did some research. While you would think that an advertising and marketing genius came up with the name, it appears as though it was a woman who was baking a cake in her kitchen who thought of the name.

The first known recipe for Angel Food Cake was a recipe for “Amanda’s Angel Food Cake” which was included in the Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book of Time Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press, in 1936.

In his book, American Food: The Gastronomic Story, Evan Jones speculated that “angel cakes may have evolved as the result of numerous egg whites left over after the making of noodles, and may or may not be the brainchild of thrifty Pennsylvania cooks who considered it sinful to waste anything.”

What if an angel were to appear in your kitchen and teach you what you should eat and how you should prepare your food? Wouldn’t that be great? Then we wouldn’t have to rely on the government to tell us what we should and should not eat.

What if that same angel appeared to you and taught you the best way to pray to God?

While there is no record of an angel ever appearing in someone’s kitchen to teach them how to cook, there were three occasions 100 years ago when an Angel of God appeared to three young children and taught them how to pray.

The Angel’s appearances occurred in 1916, the year before the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the same three young children in Fatima, Portugal. The purpose of the Angel’s appearances was to teach them how to pray so they would be prepared for the apparitions of the Mother of God that occurred in 1917.

Traditionally, we Catholics are accustomed to reciting four types of prayers:

  1. Adoration – prayer that praises and adores God.
  2. Contrition – prayer that asks God for forgiveness.
  3. Petition – prayer that asks God for a favor.
  4. Thanksgiving – prayer that shows gratitude to God for what He has done.

There is a fifth type of prayer that we don’t hear much about — Reparation — which is prayer that makes amends for the sins of others.

July 18, 2015

Backstage at a Professional Performance

Backstage PassDuring the spring semester of my junior year in high school (1974), I organized a barbershop quartet. I recruited three of my friends who were in the music program with me at the high school. We started out by practicing at the house of one of the guys in the quartet. We continued practicing throughout the summer and started performing in the fall.

During the summer, I heard about a show that was scheduled to take place at the Shrine Mosque in downtown Peoria. The featured performers for the show consisted of a group of four men — a barbershop quartet — who had won the previous year’s international competition of barbershop quartets. Also performing at the show was a local men’s singing group.

At that time, I had a part-time job at a restaurant that was located inside the Ramada Inn in downtown Peoria. I initially started working as a busboy and was later promoted to room service.

The show was scheduled for a Saturday evening in August. I was not available to attend because I was scheduled to work during the evening of the show. On the night of the show, I convinced my boss to let me off early. After leaving work, I jumped in my car and drove to the Shrine Mosque. As I drove around the back of the building looking for a place to park, I saw a group of four men who were standing next to the building.

I quickly parked my car and walked over to the men and introduced myself. It turned out that they were the featured performers for the show. They told me that it was intermission and they had stepped outside to get some fresh air. A couple of the men were smoking cigarettes.

I explained to them that I was going to be a senior in high school and that I had organized my own barbershop quartet. I told them that I had wanted to attend their performance, but was unable to because I had to work. One of the men responded by telling me that I was welcome to watch the rest of the show from backstage.

February 20, 2014

A Legacy Worth Talking About

Veronica VeilImagine you are driving on University Street in Peoria and in the distance you see a large crowd of people gathered in a parking lot.  As you drive closer to the crowd, you see a man who you have met before tied to a telephone pole.  To your horror, you see two young, well-built men taking turns at beating the man with leather whips that have sharp pieces of metal attached to the ends of each whip.

You pull over and park your car and rush over to the area where the crowd has gathered.  The man who is tied to the telephone pole is on his knees, with his head down.  His back is covered with blood.  Several of the people in the crowd are cheering and encouraging the two men to swing harder when they beat him.

As you move closer, you see some law enforcement officers who are in charge of controlling the crowd.  You realize that what is occurring is a government-sanctioned beating.

You notice that there’s a woman who is standing about ten feet away from the man who is being beaten.  You know from having met the man that the woman is his mother.  The woman is visibly shaken and flinches every time one of the whips tears into the flesh of her son.  As you push through the crowd to get closer to the woman, you notice that there are tears in her eyes.

You try to move closer to her but one of the government officers steps in front of you and orders you to leave the area or you will be arrested.  You turn around and see that you have an opportunity to approach the man who is being beaten.  You notice that he has blood streaming down his face from thorns that have been pounded into his head.  You rush over to the man and wipe the blood from his face with your shirt.

You feel someone grab your arm and throw you to the ground.  You look up and there are two officers standing over you.  They both start kicking you in your stomach and back.  You quickly get up and stumble over to your car.  Your mind is racing, wondering if there is anything else you can do to help the man.

Contact