5/19/20: The Shame of Notre Dame #poetry
I’m an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana
I don’t donate any money to the school
So my alumni status is much like my status as an American citizen
I can say whatever I wish
and it will be very respectfully ignored by the powers that be.
I believe in other powers than those that be
I believe that there is more force
in the sincere statement
and the honest action
than there is in the billion dollar endowments
of the seemingly great universities of America.
Notre Dame announced today that they will be opening the campus for in-person enrollment for the fall semester
I left the following comment below a public relations announcement the University placed on LinkedIn:
As an alumnus, I can only express my disappointment in this immoral decision. Testing and tracing and the other mitigation strategies aren’t enough. ND employed a balancing test between money and human life. It will regret its decision. This is not consistent with Church teachings. And it is unfortunate that ND is leading the nation in this folly. Sadly our profession of values based leadership is more branding than reality in this instance. America is reaping the whirlwind of its narcissism and greed. It always infects the poor first, but a similar ethos is being used against ND students, faculty, staff and local neighbors as is employed against food supply chain workers and Indian reservations. It is a disgrace in all instances. The poor are the canaries in the coal mine. Greed comes for us all.
My words have no impact in the material world.
I know it.
I don’t go looking for trouble
and I won’t get any because I am an invisible man
to the decision makers
I coulda been one of them
I chose not to …
or rather I was destined not to …
Poetry is the art of the powerless
The meek will inherit the earth
My words are not just talk
My obscurity is testimony to what I’ve sacrificed for God
I wouldn’t trade this blog
for the Presidency of a University
and the myriad opportunities the position would give me to decide who lives and dies
I teach out of love for my students
I find them to be the opposite of expendable
There is no balance in my perception of them
They are of incomparable value
I govern the world in my writing
True none of my ideas are implemented
But that is not to say that they aren’t effective
The poet plays the long game
The poet stands for what is true and good
in opposition to contemporary delusory passions
and modest material circumstances
are small prices to pay
What is art for?
It can’t be for making pretty decorations
or being regarded as fashionable trendy or cool
It can’t be for extra taking bows and curtain calls
It is not a means to becoming a big shot
Art is to tell the truth of the world
How beautiful and wonderful it is
how it shouldn’t be defiled
This insecure greedy obsession with the abstraction of the dollar
callous to suffering
made real by people who should and do know better.
My art alas is not for the powerful
it is for the people who could be powerful
but decide to be something else.
When I am alone and tired
I often wonder about why I never assumed the mantle of societal control
Why I always made the decision at the crucial moment not to pursue it
I go over and over this territory
musing if my anxiety is shame or regret
was there something deficient in me
But then something like the Notre Dame announcement happens
and I am back on track
I made another related decision today
that I won’t talk about now
A choice that involved more than words
There was a little money involved
and I did the right thing
the true thing
I always do
and it is always hard
the powerful control more than classrooms and budgets
they have access to my mind too
but it is getting easier
You are the world
You’ll be punished and ignored
and on your way
to the reformation of the world
and your personal redemption.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas
Social media discussion:
Hey Rick, I don’t know if the decision will be judged in the future right or wrong. I do know that there are people—with great reasons —on each side of the debate. There are no guarantees in life. I do see a reasoned approach where they are bringing students in early…and ending the semester before Thanksgiving. If I still had kids in college I would appreciate that they would not be coming and going 2x for thanksgiving and end of semester.If that age group does indeed have less risk of getting the virus—and it impacting them if they get—then one school of thought has it that students separated from family might be a key to getting toward herd immunity.Last thought. In each position that I have been in it has benefited me to listen thoroughly before making a decision. I also realize that the higher up you go, the broader your perspective…and the more pressure exists. In the end, while not perfect, I trust the thoughtfulness of the people making the decisions at ND.
Write a reply…
I respect where you are coming from, John. I strongly disagree — obviously. Have a great night. (I think a rejoinder here would be overkill — now some cigars and scotch — let’s go!)<img class=”nl6bj373 fni8adji hgaippwi fykbt5ly ns4ygwem rl04r1d5 lzcic4wl l9j0dhe7″ src=”data:;base64, ” width=”16″ height=”16″ />
From my LinkedIn comment: Kevin McCarthy, Sr. out of network 3rd+Director Of Information Technology at Conn-Selmer, Inc.3m“America is reaping the whirlwind of its narcissism and greed.”Rich vs. PoorTell me, sir ~ since this is a GLOBAL Pandemic ~ is my American greed also responsible for the deaths all over the planet..?Like Kevin McCarthy, Sr.’s commentSee profile for Richard Thomas J.D. LLCStatus is onlineRichard Thomas J.D. LLC YouTeach, Write @ richardthomasjd.com, Adjunct Faculty Grad Bus. Ethics @ Loyola Quinlan School of BusinessnowAmerican greed is immorally harming the lives of Americans since the mismanagement of this problem directly affects America. I might suggest that you stop worrying about rich vs. poor and start to think about your personal moral responsibility to all people. ND is “re-opening” in contradiction of CDC guidance. There has not been 2 weeks of decline in cases (and deaths) in its area. The opposite is true. Is there a responsibility to anything besides the bottom line? And no, America is not responsible for deaths all over the planet, but is responsible for making them worse — specifically with threatening to withhold funding from the World Health Organization. I might also suggest that you worry a little bit less about being criticized and more how to do the right thing for other people.Like Richard Thomas J.D. LLC’S commentSee profile for Richard Thomas J.D. LLCStatus is onlineRichard Thomas J.D. LLC YouTeach, Write @ richardthomasjd.com, Adjunct Faculty Grad Bus. Ethics @ Loyola Quinlan School of BusinessnowAmerica has hid behind the skirts of “greatest country in the world rhetoric” without always doing its best to live up to the branding. Our problems ARE global — and American should lead globally — lead in intelligent innovation AND lead morally. The world used to look up to us for that after WW II. But now selfishness and materialism has made America a great source of the world’s problems. So short answer — YES, we are not the only ones responsible but we are responsible. Money can always be made again, when someone dies they are dead forever.
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More from LinkedIn discussion: David Fedewa out of network 3rd+Business Development Manager at System4 LLC11mGood morning Richard. You mentioned ‘mismanagement’. What would you have done differently?Like David Fedewa’s commentSee profile for Richard Thomas J.D. LLCStatus is onlineRichard Thomas J.D. LLC YouTeach, Write @ richardthomasjd.com, Adjunct Faculty Grad Bus. Ethics @ Loyola Quinlan School of Business2m(edited)Where to start — not dismantle the fed govt’s pandemic response team, recognize the problem early, make sure personal protective protection was provided to front line workers in health care, food chain etc, shore up access to health care, order ventilator production in Feb at the latest, get comprehensive national testing and tracing, make sure people have adequate economic relief, not pushing for no liability for employers who have sickness and death in their businesses, making sure unemployment gets to those who need it, not forcing people to work in dangerous conditions and not get unemployment, making sure food isn’t wasted as food chain shifts from commercial to personal customers — just to name a few. To have a fed govt that is actually working — not just a public relations operation. Not relying on a federalist response — state by state — but rather a national response — better more accurate keeping of infection and death statistics —- I don’t know —- this is just what I can think of off the top of my head.
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I missed this one from earlier in the LinkedIn feed: David Fedewa out of network 3rd+Business Development Manager at System4 LLC18hWhoa Richard! How is this inconsistent with Church teachings?Like David Fedewa’s comment1 Like 1 Like on David Fedewa’s commentSee profile for Richard Thomas J.D. LLCStatus is onlineRichard Thomas J.D. LLC You18hThe seamless garment of life, the dignity of work. Read the fine print — making as safe as possible? That’s not good enough. People will die because of this. They just had an outbreak in Germany in a town where they were doing everything right. Take NYC and Detroit and New Orleans out of the mix and the US is spiking high. Conditions aren’t right to do this now — it’s way too soon. People will die — Thou salt not kill — another church teaching.
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More from LinkedIn David Fedewa out of network 3rd+Business Development Manager at System4 LLC52sThanks for your response. You mentioned implementing this back in February. Is that what you would have done in February and how would you have known what to do back in February??Like David Fedewa’s commentSee profile for Richard Thomas J.D. LLCStatus is onlineRichard Thomas J.D. LLC YounowThe problem was known. I am not being political here at all, but fact is that Biden wrote an op-ed warning about it in January. Trump received intelligence memos about it in February and ignored them. It was not unknown to experts in epidemiology. They saw a major problem coming and said so. The current government ignored the warnings. Trump was asked about it in February. The media knew about it. He said it was “under control” that it was “just one person” and that it would “just go away when it got a little warmer.” Thank you.
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