God, Gott, Dieu, Yhwh… and Allah.

God by any other name is still Creator. To borrow further from Shakespeare, “Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself,…”

According to Genesis mythology God created the heavens and the earth, light and dark, the plants and animals, and then humanity in God’s image and likeness. God toiled for 6 days and then “rested” the 7th day. Perhaps a more accurate description is that God either retired or took a sabbatical because from that point forward humanity took up the task of creating. We created nations, language, and religions… religions that define god in our image and likeness. In my country most call the Creator “God”. My German paternal grandparents named the Creator Gott, and my Lebanese/Syrian maternal grandparents (who were Christians) prayed to Allah. “Allah” is not a word unique to a theology, it is merely the Arabic word for God and the Arabic language predates Islam by centuries.

Humanity created all that divides us and in our division we imagine that the Creator takes sides in wars, politics, and sporting events. We created rituals that we imagine are necessary to communicate and entreat with the gods that we created. If God is universal, all powerful, and all-knowing then I doubt that God is confused by the names that we choose or the manner by which we address or invoke God. I doubt that God favors one archaic ritual over another, one nation over another, one political party over another, or one baseball team over another.

If there is a Universal Creator (a topic for another time), then I pray that God comes out of retirement and begins work on the 8th day to create peace, love, understanding and respect among those God created on the 6th day.

Peace Everyone. Pete

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Many have wondered how we can go “on the road” in a tiny camper for weeks on end. The answer is that my wife and I share a good marriage. She is a good person (however, I will not self-proclaim my own character). A good marriage is not dependent upon whether or not the partners are good people, but rather upon the people being good partners. In this I am doubly blessed to have married a good person who is a good partner. Each year on our anniversary (June 19th) we take our marriage off of the shelf, admire and polish it for the next year. It really doesn’t tarnish since we continually work on keeping it polished throughout the year.

We do not cast responsibility upon each other for our individual happiness, but we do find our relationship is a source of happiness. It is also a safe place where we find support in the other’s strengths and talents, refuge from our own weaknesses and shortcomings. Like I said, ours is a good marriage. Many people find that that they need solitude in order to examine their thoughts without distraction. With a good partner one can also better know one’s thoughts by dialogue, but only when there is absolute trust that the exchanges are free from criticism and judgment.

In our marital life, the depth of sharing can be challenged by the daily distractions of work, finances, current events, and all of those things that comprise the background noise of “real” life. I find that most days we are able to shrug off the burdens of such distractions.

After over 40 years we still find strength and support in our partnership. We love our life at home, and we love our life on the road. The commonality is that we love our life together. Have I said that I have a good Marriage?

Peace Everyone. Pete

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Once again, the media is saturated with the tragedy of children gunned down and parents wringing their hands in grief-stricken despair.
Most of us sit as observers of the unfolding drama. We are like those who sit ringside at a brutal cage-fight. We see the chaos unfolding within the cage, but we are safely separated from the real damage occurring within the enclosure. We see the emotions and the pain play out but remain insulated from anything more than a reflexive emotional flinch. When we walk away from the television our day remains undisturbed. The pain is theirs, not ours, and try as we might we cannot know the full depth of the loss… UNLESS, one has endured the suffering of having lost a child.

Some of you who are reading this have lost a child, and I apologize in advance for the inadequacy of what I am presenting. I have not lost a child, but I have been present at the passing of a grandchild and witnessed my child thus endure that loss.

There was another occasion when I found myself in a circumstance that gave me the smallest and briefest inkling of what a parent’s grief might feel like. Years ago, Christine and I were actors in a community theater presentation of “A Christmas Carol”. I was Bob Cratchit and Christine played my wife, Martha. We fell easily into our roles, to the point that the death of Tiny Tim became larger than life for us on stage. “Bob” had returned home from visiting “Tim’s” grave. On script, “Martha” observed, “Your walk seemed a bit longer than usual.” I understood her meaning and with a slight hesitation I replied, “Yes, I went to see him today.” In a real flood of emotion, I forced myself to continue. “It is such a lovely place, and as soon as I arrived I wished that you had been there with me.”
It was too much for me. No longer acting, my head bent toward the table and my hands extended flat on either side of a teapot. My fingers contracted and drew the tablecloth into my fists. The sugar and cream moved upon the table. Christine’s hand found my shoulder as she leaned over me with real concern. A tear drop fell from my eye, darkening the tablecloth as the second, third, and countless other tears, mine and hers, fell to the table. I became dimly aware of the sobs which now came from the “Cratchit children” who were gathered around us. I knew I was supposed to say something, but the words that I had practiced were lost. From the deepest pain in my soul I looked into my wife’s eyes and I cried off script, “I just miss my child… I miss him so much!”. She, and I and the children all found one another and embraced in sudden and unrehearsed anguish as the lights dimmed.

I stood from the table and gazed upon the tear-filled eyes of my “family” wondering at what had just occurred. When Christine and I left the table, we left behind the ghosts of Bob and Martha Cratchit. We left behind their pain.

Our intention that night had been to act out roles in a community theater presentation of “A Christmas Carol”. But for those few moments at the table, we were parents who mourned the loss of their child… parents who felt the pain of every other parent who has lost a child. For just a moment we had an insight into that unspeakable, searing, suffocating pain.

The loss of a child is a horror beyond the capacity of the English language to describe. There are words to identify other family losses… widow, widower, and orphan, but there is no single word for a parent who has lost a child.

Peace. Pete Schloss

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Before we left the States for Spain to walk the Camino in 2013, I had declared my expectation that I would walk each and every one of the 815 kilometers, my pack on my back. I have since come to learn that such expectations are an endurance hike, and not a pilgrimage. In my case, being forced off for a few days because of illness created both a disappointment and an opportunity for reflection. I have learned from the experience that there can be no disappoint if one sheds all expectations.

I have wondered how this might have played out 1,000 years ago in the early days of the Camino de Santiago Compostela:

Expectations and Disappointment, a Parable. 

Somewhere on the Camino, the year 1013, a weary and travel worn Perigrino surrenders the burro which he has ridden into town to a shopkeeper. The Pilgrim then slowly hobbles across the village square, entering the imposing granite church that is the axis of the community. Confessions are being heard. Our Perigrino, adorned in his tatters, enters the confessional booth, and begins to recite the prescribed formula:

Perigrino: Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been one day since my last confession (Confession was a lot more popular in the 11th Century) and these are my sins. I have had impure thoughts, and I have broken my vow to the Blessed Virgin and St. James.

Priest: The breaking of a vow is a serious matter; can you tell me more?

Perigrino: Father, I am a Pilgrim walking the Camino. I made a vow to Our Lady and St. James that I would walk the entire Journey assisted only by my own two feet. Earlier today I stumbled upon a rock and found that I was unable to continue. A farmer took pity upon me and gave me the use of a burro upon which I traveled this day. I have just surrendered it to the farmer’s brother, a shopkeeper on the square.

Priest: My son, your sin is not the breaking of a vow, but in possessing such arrogance as to presume to tell our Lord what your Camino should be. God in his infinite Knowledge and Mercy provided you with a burro to continue your journey, but your disappointment, fathered by your expectations, has no appreciation for God’s Grace…. A serious sin indeed.

Perigrino: For my sin I am heartily sorry Padre, and I willingly embrace your penance.

Priest: My son, for your penance you shall go to the river, and divesting yourself of your robes. You will bath and clean yourself of all expectations for your pilgrimage on the Camino.

Perigrino: Excuse me Padre, but is it not more common to just require that I recite 3 “Our Fathers” and 5 “Hail Marys”? Besides I have already bathed this year.

Priest: So my Perigrino! Do you now also impose your expectations upon the penances that I give?!? By the way, I almost forgot, what were the impure thoughts?

Perigrino: Uhm, well, I don’t really know. I have always given 2 sins, and since my parents are both dead I can no longer use “disobedience”.

Priest: I see. Well, for the impure thoughts you could have had you get your 3 “Our Fathers” and 5 “Hail Marys”… and after you bathe, wash your clothes and line your cod-piece with fresh herbs. I

think that your odor is delaying the Second Coming of Christ.

The Pilgrim was true to his word. He recited the prescribed prayers, bathed, and washed his clothes. Unfortunately, some habits die hard. As the Perigrino was searching for fresh herbs to line his cod-piece, he could be heard to declare, “I swear by the Blessed Mother and St. James that I will complete the rest of my pilgrimage without further interruption!” Soon thereafter the Pilgrim chose a three-leafed vine-like plant to line his cod-piece.

Peace Everyone, and a Buen Camino! Pete

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Years ago, during a Lake Michigan sailing passage from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Washington Island Wisconsin, Christine and I encountered a sudden gale force storm. What had started for the two of us as an idyllic 8-hour sail quickly deteriorated into a terrifying cacophony of wind, waives, and lightning. The anchor broke free of its mount on the bow and threatened to hole the side of the hull. I slid along the deck going forward with line in my teeth while Christine struggled against the tiller. The bow alternately rose and fell against the crashing waves… one moment I was 8 feet above the water, the next submerged. I succeeded in securing the anchor and reversed my crawl to the cockpit aft. Shaken by the experience I asked Christine if she had identification zipped in her fowl weather jacket. I was serious, and she knew it.

On our marine radio we monitored a Coast Guard rescue of a vessel that had foundered within a couple of miles of us. We had been towing our dingy, but the wind and waves had capsized the 9-foot rowboat… I had to cut it loose. Eventually we were in sight of the harbor entrance, protected waters and land.

On shore but still shaken, my wife and I proceeded to the marina restaurant and saw in the distance a rainbow which appropriately marked the end of our terror. We noted that the other patrons spoke of the storm as a “pleasant distraction”. I will ever remember the contrast between the “distraction” for those ashore and the struggle for us on the water.

This stands as a metaphor that there are those among us who live the same day but are instead burdened by vastly different experiences… days filled with hunger, poverty, and desperation. The rainbow never appears on their side of the storm.

Peace Everyone. Pete

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The Spring of 1974 was my last term before graduation from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The 43 Springs that followed have done little to dim my fond recollections. While rummaging through some old storage bins I came upon one that held pictures and artifacts of that time. Digging deeper within I found THE photograph. The event it depicts is only part, but proof, of the story.
 
My survival as a student is a tale in itself, but after successfully negotiating the minefield of my first few semesters I settled into being a passable student. I majored in Administration of Justice and became the president of the undergraduate AJ Association at SIU. Among the fruits of that position were an office in the AJ faculty building and first shot at a semester long internship with the Carbondale Police Department. My hair was cut, my cheeks clean shaven, and as testament to my respectability I even carried a briefcase.
That Spring on the campus of SIU, as upon campuses across America, a sort of budding insanity had come into full blossom. It was the era of the “Streaker”. That Spring even provided the inspiration for Ray Steven’s Billboard hit song, “The Streak”, which was released in March that year:
“…I’s standin’ over there by the tomaters, and here he
come, running through the pole beans, through the fruits and vegetables… Nekkid as a jay bird. And I hollered over t’ Ethel, I said, “DON’T LOOK, ETHEL!” But it’s too late, she’d already been incensed.”

One afternoon I was walking across the campus Commons area with my friend Donna. She was the Secretary of the undergrad AJ association and the object of my not so secret but oh so intense crush. I settled for the friendship that she willingly shared.

The craziness was in great form. a few thousand students had gathered in the Commons. It was a park like setting with large established trees, manicured green space, a small brook, a pond and a network of wide meandering sidewalks. Sunbathers congregated in the places where the sun shone through to the grass below. Landscape boulders provided perches for others and gave an arena like air for the events unfolding.
A group of students in various stages of undress splashed in the pond and were encouraged by the chorus of shouts to “take it off!”. Here and there the crowd responded with heightened enthusiasm to the random flashes of naked butt cheeks suddenly appearing and as quickly disappearing. It was like watching a meteor shower of flesh.
Donna and I stopped to take it all in. I watched with fascination the show that was unfolding. Donna instead observed the emotions that played within me.
“You want to do that.” She stated with matter of fact frankness. “I can see it on your face.”
I merely mumbled a half hearted acknowledgement that it looked like fun, but… . At which point she stopped me and continued with, “You know you will never get a chance like this again, and you might always regret that you passed it up.”
She was right, and as if she continued to read my mind she took control and hatched the plan for me. “Just step into those bushes behind us, take your clothes off, hand me your briefcase and clothes, run, get it out of your system, and I will wait here for you.”

She had thrown down the gauntlet, but it was my gauntlet! I was trapped between my desire to do the unthinkable and my fear of being seen by her as a coward. Action replaced hesitation. In an instant I was standing in the small clear space between three spruce bushes trying not to get needled in my precious parts. I put all my clothes except my pants and shoes in the briefcase. An observant bystander would have seen an arm emerging from the bushes, handing shoes and briefcase to a blond pixie-haired co-ed. Rolling my pants up tightly and thrusting them under my arm I leaped from the bushes and dove into the deep end of momentary insanity. I RAN, and Ran, and ran….

I was vaguely aware of voices and shouts, my footfalls over grass, soil, and  concrete, and the flashes of light and shadow as I passed through the Commons. Like so many first “coming of age experiences” it was over almost before it began. My heart pounding, I stopped past the point where most people were taking in the afternoon and put on my pants. In the presence of onlookers it occurred to me that I was more embarrassed by the act of getting dressed than I had been in running naked before their eyes. I walked back to where Donna stood waiting. She smiled a smile that might have been the pose for Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa.
“Done?” she asked, as if I were a boy just finishing his desert. I accepted the return of my briefcase and shoes, smiled back and gratefully nodded.

I was a bit unsettled to see that my roommate, Steve, was seated on a landscape wall staring at me with what appeared to be a mixture of disbelief and disgust. Later that evening he, a psych major, would launch into a tirade about how I had allowed myself to be seduced by the mass hysteria which was infecting the campus. My reply that it “Looked like fun”, merely fed the fire of his indignation and drew the response that just because jumping off of a cliff looks like fun does not justify doing so! He didn’t quite stop short of wondering if I and those like me should not be considered dangerous. It was not the first time that my conservative roommate of 4 years had to stretch his understanding of human behavior to accommodate my latest “surprise”.
 
The next day I entered the Administration of Justice building to go to my office and do some studying. At the reception station I was accosted by three young ladies, at least one of which was a secretary there. They asked if it was true that I streaked yesterday. I was unprepared for my newfound notoriety but quickly and happily admitted the deed.
“WHAT WAS IT LIKE?!?”, they asked in unison. It has since occurred to me that this is a question that I have been asked many times throughout my life and in so many different contexts. Perhaps this is a fitting epithet which should be carved upon the monument of my final resting place.

“Well, it was really pretty cool!” I confidently replied.
“Would you do it again?” asked one of the young ladies.
There was something in the way that she posed the question. I had not really noticed her before and I did not know her name. She was attractive, a student holding a work/study position, and she was looking me dead-on in a way that demanded both my attention and caution. “Well…”, I slowly answered, “It would have to be something more interesting than just running naked again.”
“Would it be more interesting if you did it with me?” she asked. I about swallowed my tongue. She quickly continued as if I had just said yes, “Of course, I would have to wear a mask because I can’t lose my job. Maybe we can wear costumes!” “Yeah!!!” the other girls chimed in, “Costumes!”. My second gauntlet in two days had just been cast down, again by someone else. I had just run out of gauntlets.
The next thing I knew the young ladies were busily (and creatively) devising “costumes” which concealed the secretary’s identity, and nothing more. She would be “Athena” and I would be “Mercury”. The props included:
Mercury: An aluminum pie pan hat with white cardboard wings stuck on top. White cardboard wings attached at the ankles, and a cardboard lightning bolt covered with aluminum foil.
Athena: A white cardboard mask with eyeholes, and a flaming torch!
Apparently, streaking now included special effects. I was at a loss to figure out the torch part, but as if communicating by telepathy the young ladies broke from their huddle, parting in scavenger hunt fashion to procure wire, a long stick, and a few sanitary napkins which they wired to the end of the stick. Lighter fluid completed the “hunt”. To them it was a torch fit for the opening of the Olympic Games. To me it still looked like Kotex on a stick. It was way too late for me to back out.

Costumes completed, the girls located a couple of grad students with a car in the nearby parking lot who could drive us to the other side of the campus Commons area. “Athena”, and I got in the back seat of the 60’s era station wagon for the ride. Our trip would take us through a part of the downtown Carbondale main drag. It was a warm and brilliant Spring noon. Traffic in the community of 25,000, enhanced by a student body of nearly that number was on the congested side. As we proceeded in stop and go fashion “Athena” declared, “Well, I guess we should take our clothes off now!”

Yes, certainly, of course, naturally, when I got out of bed that morning I had predicted that in a few hours I would be in the back seat of a station wagon, in broad daylight, publicly disrobing with a young lady that I had just met… oh, and with whom I had not yet been properly introduced. Our clothes came off. I extended my hand to “Athena” and said, “Name’s Pete, pleased to make your acquaintance!!” She smiled and as if on queue replied in kind with her hand and name.
I regret that I do not remember her name. I have never been very good with names as I am something of a visual thinker. Her name escapes my recollection, but damn little else does! We shall continue to call her Athena.

We held each other’s gaze, but the magnetism of boobs and pubes was drawing our eyes downward. Is it ok to look I wondered? As if sharing my thoughts she laughed and then looked. My focus expanded from her face to the rest of her and then beyond. We relaxed and again became people instead of parts.

It was the eyes that next drew my attention. Her eyes wandering about, the grad student’s eyes in the rearview mirror which meeting mine could be clearly be read to say “You Lucky Bastard!”, and the eyes of the throngs of pedestrians. Most passersby were oblivious to our bit of theater, but here and there a blank gaze would electrify into recognition that we had no clothes on. To be honest, in the insanity of the day we were not the exclusive sight on display. I clearly recall a student on a bicycle slowly passing us in traffic. He was completely naked on his 10 speed Schwinn Varsity. As he rolled by us I noticed the sun play on his ass and that the resulting shadow formed between the bike seat and his “cheeks” looked like a caricature of the Eiffel Tower.

We arrived at the parking lot west of the Commons. The next challenge was getting the head gear on and lighting the torch. That accomplished, and receiving assurances from the grad students that they would be awaiting our return, we RAN!

The Commons was more heavily crowded than the day before. There were throngs of people numbering in the thousands. Whereas in my streaking experience yesterday I was but one of many flickering meteorites, today Athena and I had become Haley’s Comet. We were not part of a show, we had become the show. Voices and shouts announcing our passage rang out around us and were relayed through the crowd. Hundreds of faces lined and finally choked the sidewalk before us. We continued on and as if we were Moses come upon the Red Sea, the waters parting to allow our passage. We RAN, and RAN, and Ran, Ran, ran, ran, jogged, walked fast, and finally just plain walked… naked… among the trees, upon the grass, through the meadow like expanse, becoming oblivious to the shouts, smiles and stares around us. It was extraordinary. We were Adam and Eve before eating the Apple of Knowledge, and Southern Illinois University had become Eden. I don’t recall if we ever held hands as we walked, but we should have. It would have been the right thing to do as one crosses the intersection of innocence.

Our walk continued in a broad circle that took us back toward the parking lot. We approached the Life Sciences building which was next to the imposing structure of the Morris Library and across from Lawson Hall. In the distance I saw that my roommate Steve was seated under a tree and appeared to be studying. At my urging we slightly altered our course to pass in front of where he sat.  Steve stared at us in gaped mouth amazement. My pie pan was askew, and our cardboard accessories had not worn the journey well. The torch was extinguished and it looked like we had been roasting marshmallows, negligently allowing them to burn. I said, “Hi Steve, nice day!” He merely stared and then maintained a silence toward me that extended for about two days.

Athena and I dressed at the car and parted ways back at the AJ building. We saw each other now and then, but never created a relationship out of our experience. Steve and I remain friends to this day, and I believe that Donna went on to become a probation officer in another state. The visions of that day might have vanished as wisps of smoke above a dying campfire, but for one artifact that remains.
 
Near the end of that semester, my last semester at SIU, I visited home. My mother greeted me at the door and as I carried my bag into the house she stated in ‘matter of fact’ manner that she had received an envelope with a picture in it. “I placed it in your dresser Peter Michael.” Curious, I began unpacking my things. I opened my dresser drawer and there was the opened envelope, plain manila, addressed to my mother but with no return address. Beneath it, face up, was a black and white photo of a 20th Century “Mercury” and “Athena”. Mom never asked, and I never offered. The photographer and the sender remain unknown to me. The picture found its way into a box of keepsakes where it has remained for the last 40 years. I recently came upon that box and the picture within. “Mercury” still bears a striking resemblance to me. As my eyes met his within the image I found myself mouthing the words, “You Lucky Bastard”.
 
Peace Everyone! Pete Schloss

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Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does the human mind. When we are presented with a scenario that lacks details, we often supply them from our expectations, our experiences, and our belief systems. In the face of a reported “drug deal gone bad”, a carjacking, or other newsworthy event, if important details are lacking we tend to unconsciously supply them to complete the picture. The mind conjures up details of age, gender, and race. The quest to know the details is the natural tendency of an inquisitive species. It drives our explorations, it drives our scientific inquiry, and it even drives our theologies.

Creation stories, such as presented in the Old Testament, are not only a story about Creation, but examples of the creation of a story. Imagine if the transcribers had known the structure of the solar system, galaxy, and universe. Imagine if they had known the relationship between mass and gravity, time and light. Those “knowns” would have been interwoven into a story that still included created aspects to explain the important unknowns.

As a child in parochial elementary school I was never satisfied with answers like, “Well Mr. Schloss, it’s a mystery”. I was once sent to the Principal’s office because I persisted to question how God could allow non-Christians in China to be condemned to eternal damnation when there was no opportunity for them to know Christianity. I sensed then, as I have come to believe in adulthood, that there is a point where fair inquiry becomes offensive to those who have abandoned fair inquiry.

When we declare natural or human tragedies to be “punishments from God”, or the results of an election, a war, or even a football game to be evidence of “the will of God”, we abrogate our humanity as inquiring beings. Worse yet, we abandon our free will to be agents of change and we become guilty of a great moral failing by pretending to be human in all but mind and deed.

Peace Everyone. Pete Schloss

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We have become accustom to visits from random strangers interested in our home, our Casita travel trailer, or both. This morning was no exception as such a visit occurred while I was removing 7 weeks of road grime from “Rigel”, our home away from home.

While scrubbing a wheelwell, I became aware of the presence in my driveway of an older Buick that had seen a better day. A wizened man, on the north side of 80 years old, exited the Buick and hobbled toward me with hand outstretched. He introduced himself as Bill and turned his eyes to Rigel. “She sure is a nice trailer… looks like you have done some traveling.” I thanked Bill and acknowledge that the map on the back of the trailer accurately displayed the many States that we had visited in the last 17 months. “Wow”, Bill remarked, “Mind if I look inside?” I ushered Bill to the door and became a bit concerned as he reached for the handle and displayed a large purple bruise that extended the width of his trembling arthritic hand. His step up into the trailer was tentative and uncertain, but to my relief successful. He stood in the entry and with a wistful, almost vacant gaze he scanned the interior. “When my wife finally passes from her Alzheimer’s, this is what I want to do.” We both stood silent, Bill continuing his imagined travels and me allowing his words to sink in.

Without further comment Bill sighed, smiled, and began the difficult task of stepping back down from trailer to driveway. He once again extended his hand and thanked me. He looked tired, but at the same time grateful. I expressed to Bill my wish that matters resolve kindly for him and his wife. With tears in his eyes Bill nodded and again thanked me. He returned to his car and left me to ponder what had just occurred.

Bill and his wife are traveling a difficult journey. For a few minutes he borrowed our trailer and found peace in an imaginary detour to a different destination. He also reminded me that his path is one that one day we may all share.

Peace. Pete
Originally Posted October 3, 2016

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Years ago, I read that if a frog is cast into a pan of boiling water it will immediately react to save itself and jump out of the pan. However, if the frog is placed in a pan of cool water and the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will remain in place oblivious to the fact that it is being cooked.

I have accepted this account on faith but I still wonder if it has ever been experimentally proven. I would never consider torturing some poor frog to satisfy my curiosity, however recent events have brought me to the realization that the sacrifice of a frog is unnecessary since I have the example of a teacher, my father.

My dad began teaching in 1949, which was the year that he and my mother married. By 1959 they had brought 4 sons into the world, of which I am the oldest. My mother was also a teacher, but she chose to stay home to raise the children until I started high school. Dad’s teacher’s salary, supplemented by summer work and the small stipends he received for coaching football, basketball, and track, were the family’s sole source of support. From his income, my parents provided our family with the following:

• A custom-built brick home in south suburban Chicago

• Parochial grade school educations

• One newer car and a second older car

• A camping trailer that we used for annual summer vacations, traveling throughout the United States and Canada

• Excellent health and dental care

• Undergraduate state college educations for the children that included our tuition, books, room and board

My dad was not a financial wizard, he was a teacher. Teachers in the 1960’s, along with firefighters, police officers, factory workers, truck drivers, and a myriad of other professions, were the pillars of middle class America. The real strength of the “American Dream” was not in the strength of our military or the wealth of the “top 1%”, but in what average workers could accomplish for themselves and their families.

Had something suddenly occurred in our society to deprive these workers of their ability to provide for their families in the manner that I have described then there would have been a declaration of a national emergency to address the crisis. In other words, the frog would have immediately reacted and leapt from the pan of boiling water.

Unfortunately, the America of my youth was bathed in a pan of cool water. The temperature of the water has gradually risen over the last 50 years to the point that the middle class of America it is being cooked out of existence.

As for the experiment, frogs need not apply. We have enough teachers, firefighters, police officers, factory workers, truck drivers…

Peace. Pete Schloss

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