My Mothers’ Voices

by Julia Marks

I spent the first six years of my life with my mother and the woman I call grandmother, although she has no genetic relationship to either of us. Alice was appointed guardian for my mother when Ellen was thirteen. Alice never married or had children, but was proud to call me grand-daughter and give me her name. The story is long, complicated, and personal; I rarely discuss it with anyone. I have no intention of doing that now. You only need this little bit of information to understand the disparity between the voices these women contribute to me as a woman and a writer.

Ellen’s voice goes down my throat like a cool Eiswein and comes up as a horrid Irish Rose. I remember her as a strong independent woman until she decided to become a middle class housewife. I call on her when I need a passive-aggressive bitch character, so determined to erase her own past, she erases the past of all of those around her. The petite dark beauty with emerald green eyes who taught me to be strong and unafraid became a chubby subservient wife overnight when she married my stepfather. In a home where physical punishment was never practiced, I found myself in a house where beatings with belts were an almost daily occurrence. My mother was gone and she sent my grandmother away with her.

The voice my mother left me with more than anything is the one I try to suppress: spite. Four years after my stepfather died in the line of duty I told her I was pregnant. She did not yell or threaten, then say everything will be okay. She quietly informed me she was too young to be a grandmother, that I had three days to get my things and leave her house. Alice said Ellen must have amnesia; she was young when she became pregnant with me, by a married preacher no less. Alice did not tell her to get out of the house; she and my mother would raise me together and give me the best life they could. I use my mother’s voice deliberately, when I need a lonely old woman bent on self-destruction. She died when my son was thirty-three years old; she never met her only grandson. Ellen’s voice provides me with characters you love to hate or at least pity.

Alice’s voice tastes like homemade eggnog served with cinnamon twists created from brown sugar, cinnamon and leftover pie dough. She is who I call on when I want warm fuzzy characters. But do not mistake warm and fuzzy for old and weak. Alice was tall and proud and worked as a psychiatric nurse in a state mental health facility. She was one tough bitch who called me on my shit. She loved me and my son unconditionally. Her patience and understanding taught me empathy. Walk a mile in their shoes, Julie Bird. In a small town late to everything, including desegregation, her best friend was a black woman she worked with and whose children I went to high school with. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but four rights make a square! I am older than my chronological age because of her voice.

I have books on gardening food crops and flowers, but it is Alice I listen to when I need help in the gardens. It is her voice that speaks through characters in a folksy style with grace and ease. She is the reason my voice is not noticeable as being that southern Ohio twang. Emote; there are reasons the word is pronounced that way, don’t be lazy. Don’t be lazy, indeed! That certainly applied to all she taught me. Her voice is the one I keep close to my heart, in my life and in my work.

It is said we all stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. I realize this usually implies the giants, the important people of the world, but each of us has someone that is a giant to us alone. I stand on the shoulders of my grand-mother, who gladly holds me up and not my mother, who told me to get the fuck off. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Thank you Alice. You are on your own, kid. Thank you, too, Ellen.

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Why God?

by C.L. Pauwels

Why do people believe in god(s)? Rea-sons vary as much as individuals – habit, family custom, a need for security, a hunger for answers in an out-of-control world, sincere devotion to something greater than themselves, or more likely, some combination of all of the above. But gods lead to religion.

Religion has been a constant presence in my life largely because of tradition, for good and not-so-good. I was raised in a church-going family. My grandfather taught adult Sunday school; Grandma attended the Gleaners Bible study. I left for college as a born-again child of the seventies. Two years later, I dropped out of school and married my high-school sweetheart.

During the early days of our marriage, we were immersed in the evangelical movement, rarely questioning anything it taught. Sunday church school followed by morning service followed by evening fellowship led to Monday Bible study for couples, Tuesday study for ladies/men only, Wednesday night choir, Thursday visitations, Friday praise service…we may have had a break on Saturday; I honestly don’t recall. We raised hands and prayed and proselytized with the best of them. But I remember even then a nagging suspicion that something was amiss. How could the loving God they preached be the same one who damned the unconverted? Why did preaching and piety rarely extend beyond the doors of the sanctuary?

As we began to read and study other religions – granted from the evangelical perspective of converting the lost souls who were “ensnared” by them – I found many things that made just as much sense (or as little) as the tenets we embraced. And I grew more uneasy. The final disillusionment came when our pastor, whom we approached in a time of desperate need, lamely offered to pray for us before returning to his sermon prep. I began looking for answers elsewhere, and fortunately, my husband joined me.

That search has led me down many different paths in the past forty years, culminating (thus far) in my undergrad senior project at Antioch University McGregor in 2008, from which this es-say is taken. I’ve studied Bahá’í, Judaism, Shinto, Gnostics, and the Tao. I learned the doctrines of Catholicism and Mormonism against which the fundamentalist evangelicals do battle. I’ve read the Judeo-Christian Bible – with the Apocrypha – and Buddha, the Qur’an and Jung, Lao Tzu and Nietzsche. The myths and legends of the many cultures I have studied all provide the best answers civilizations could come up with at their particular time in history, from the white buffalo woman of Native Americans, to the semen of Ra, to Adam’s rib.

As mankind has progressed in understanding of the workings of nature, these myths often gave way to orbits and gravity and atomic structure. Evolution and natural selection provide wondrous, coherent theories which use our admittedly limited scientific knowledge to show how physical reality came to be as we experience it. Yet quantum mechanics and quantum physics are shaking up those ideas as well, and in another hundred years or another hundred centuries, we may find that our currently accepted “truths” will seem just as quaint as do those of early cultures.

But we can’t have those discussions. Nearly any attempt at religious questioning is taken as insult or blasphemy. Science fiction author Douglas Adams asked in a speech at Cambridge University, while noting debate on any other topic from politics to computer preference is unobjectionable, “We are used to not challenging religious ideas…(because) we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn’t be.” This tacit agreement keeps us from ever reaching an amicable solution for our differences and leads to further divisiveness in many areas of life. Mega-churches with exorbitant levels of income are granted non-profit status and avoid paying taxes to help sup-port the communities in which they reside, while also avoiding regulations which protect their employees. Polygamist cults systematically oppress and abuse women and children under the guise of religious freedom. Burqa-clad women are forced into lives of degradation by fanatics who misinterpret the Qur’an for misogynistic purposes. Yet to question even these offensive practices is off limits.

And that concerns me. The ugly, strident discord growing every day between believers and non-believers is splitting society on every level. I have been called unpatriotic, immoral, and worse for not sharing a belief in god as defined by the Christian church. Such narrow-mindedness has been around since Biblical days (and I’m sure long before) when admonitions to love your neighbor were clearly understood to mean those who shared your values and gods, not those evil “others” next door who worshiped in strange ways. Unfortunately, this division seems to be escalating with the always-simmering Mideast crises, and here in the United States where our elected officials are expected to share the narrow ideology of special interest groups rather than representing the people of the nation as a whole, in all our wondrous diversity.

Personally, I do not care what anyone chooses to believe or not to believe about god. My feelings echo two esteemed American presidents, Thomas Jefferson: “Say nothing of my religion. It’s known to my God and myself alone,” and John F. Kennedy: “I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair.” What I do care about are those who feel the need to impose their beliefs on others and on society as a whole in the name of their god who, of course, is better than all the others. Contrary to the absolute-truth claims, religious does not mean moral, ethical, or right; it only means devoted to a specific god, prophet or creed.

In a 1992 commencement address, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said, “There are good people and bad people in every community. No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. We all come from somewhere, and we all wonder where we are going.” I only hope all those good people in communities throughout the world can find a workable solution to our common woes as we move through life together.

We are all seeking something, hence the “Why god?” focus of my study, because that is the direction many people take for all those reasons mentioned earlier. I have not found a Theory of Everything; if anything, I have more questions. Religion may not have provided the answers it promised in my early years, but it has provided the impetus for my search for truth. In my daily life, I try to treat others with respect and compassion, leaving my tiny corner of the world a bit better than it might be. And as long as I continue seeking and learning and growing, I am at peace with my efforts, even without the answers.

Is All Art Worth Saving?

by Stephen Mayne

I’m an artist, a writer to be specific. As an artist I’ve spent a significant portion of my life paying attention to how people view art. In 1987 I saw outrage over Andres Serrano’s piece Piss Christ, a crucifix submerged in a jar of the artist’s urine. In 2001 I felt personally upset at the Taliban’s destruction of a 2000 year old statue of Buddha that stood 175 feet tall. Every year I go out of my way to look at the American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged books. Over the past few months members of ISIL have been destroying art wherever they go. Today, students at the University of Texas defaced a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.

The reason I mention all of the above pieces together is because I had an emotional reaction to each one. Though right now I think the one I want to look the hardest at is the last one. Right now there is a flurry of legislation passing across the United States that is removing the Confederate flag from various federal and public buildings. I support that action; I don’t like the Confederate flag or what it stands for. While I’m sure there will be much debate on the topic and the right and wrong of it, that is not why I’m writing today.

After reading about the students’ actions at the University of Texas, I was conflicted in my reaction. On the one hand it was a representation of the Confederacy and I felt that it was offensive. As a writer I wondered about the sculptor. Who made the statue and why did they do it? Does it matter why they did it? This led me to the question, should we destroy it because it represents a period of United States history that is embarrassing and abhorrent?

I asked myself, if I am offended by what the statue stands for, do I have the right to ask it be destroyed, defaced, or removed? After this, I thought about the list included in the first paragraph. Piss Christ offended politicians, conservatives, and Christians around the world who demanded its destruction. They were outraged at its existence and how it seemed to make light of their beliefs, the core of who they were as individuals. They hated this piece and wanted it destroyed for what it stood for. At the time I argued in staunch defense of Piss Christ, that just because it offends you or you don’t understand it, doesn’t make it any less valid a piece of art that we can learn from.

When the Taliban destroyed the Buddha west of Kabul because it was an offensive piece that depicted a false god, I was angry. Something that stood for 2000 years was gone in seconds, never to be seen again because someone was offended. It didn’t matter that it had been created in a time when men had nothing more than hammers and chisels. That they probably needed to hang from ropes for hours on end, risking life and health to carve this. It didn’t matter that it survived 2000 years of earthquakes, floods, and God knows what else. It only mattered that they were offended.

Today, students defaced a statue of Jefferson Davis with spray paint. How long before they go out there with a sledge hammer because it offends them? I’m not saying that what he did was right. I’m not siding with the Confederacy. I just wonder if we should keep the statue. How far is too far when it comes to removing something offensive?

Apple Software, in response to everything going on around the Confederate flag, removed every program, game, or app from their store that featured the flag. On the surface this seems like a good decision, until you see that they also removed any program, game, or app that was about the Civil War. Any program that featured historic information about the war is gone because it had the confederate flag on it. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that a bit too far? Are we now exterminating any reference to the flag from a historic context? Isn’t it important to learn about this so that we don’t do it again?

Which begs the question: if we now get rid of this do we get rid of statues on battlefields depicting Confederate soldiers and generals? Do we remove murals from walls or paintings from buildings? When do we cross that line from taking a stand against racism to outlawing free expression of an idea; even an offensive idea? Where does it stop and how far do we go?

Warner Brothers Pictures once released an image before a selection of their older animated shorts that said, “The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.

While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today’s society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.” In this spirit, maybe we need to leave the statue of Jefferson Davis where it stands, not to honor his memory or what he stood for, but to remind us of how close we came to destroying America.

The Fame in Art

by Andrea Auten

If art had no fame, would it be more vast? I wish art had no fame. Stardom is not an evaluative outcome that proves talent. Fame and art are not fraternal. They have no recognition of each other. Two painters could ride an elevator to separate floors, one getting out on the lowliest hovel floor, painting twenty-two hours a day with coffee meals and blaring dub-step, and paint with splatters and chaos of such greatness. Only the canvas receiving it and the ocular response to it appreciate this art. The other painter could exit onto the top floor sky-view expansive apartment, splattering the same sort of mess across muslin and wood. This painter has a keen smile, connections, and a charmed life, chosen for celebrity. This celebrity artist is considered the success. Celebrity is not art.

More than before, I feel this tug; this threat that I am not succeeding unless I am known. Somehow being known is now considered talent. Your good blog, his great tweet, her-look-what-vegan-feast-I-am–about-to-ravage; digital attention craving. I believe we are confusing success with the act of creating art. We must not.

Living in Los Angeles only increases this dismaying myopia. Slender youth with its beachy waves and bronzed velvet skin greets by asking with unchecked rudeness, “Who ARE you… what do you do in The Biz?” It dismisses the answer with a tongue cluck or vituperous tweet. What am I if I am not someone newsworthy?

I may have been doomed from the start. There is a certain ache and longing in those of us who share skills with a famed-talented parent. I have seen the similar pained look of want in siblings of famous siblings, driving us to match, if not exceed the talents of the famed one who shares our DNA. More and more it seems that I am nothing if not my maestro father’s daughter. It is the identity that grounds me, but the pursuit to claim my corner of the stage has never been for fame. It is not for celebrity. It has been to ex-press art with the ease and confidence that he did and to have that art received by a community outstretched hands.

There should be a circle of artisans who desire to give to the collective because it is sacred. The transformative exchange of creativity should be our breath, our food. I believe the pressure to provide and maintain a social media platform can impede artistic growth. A watching public requires circumspection. If we measure everything we say against the prudent need to be careful, we lose our fire. Censorship finds a new avenue through peer review.

Artists must fight for autonomy, building venues to share our work without the forced requirement of celebrity status. Our country is stuck in a cyber popularity contest, making demands on its artists to fill a hero-worshiping need. Where celebrity is mandatory, art dies. Nameless and faceless art: what would that look like? Actuate it. Get out your drums. Find street corners. Post an entire body of work with fellow artists anonymously. Find a circle of like minds who create for change. Make art reverberate.

The Conspiracy Against Black Beauty

or
How Barbie and Nancy Drew Participated in the Lie Perpetrated Against American Black Women

by Staci Celeste Shockley-Matthews

You were told since before you were born how precious, smart, beautiful and important you are. You didn’t walk until almost two, not due to lack of motor skills but because there was no need for you to bother to use the legs you’d been given, being carried around like the precious cargo you were often told you were. Despite “Beautiful” being the utterance your daddy used when referring to you, and even though your baby pictures from birth until aged five stayed plastered as advertisement in the Olan Mills photography studio window as examples of the gorgeous children they’d captured on film, something for you was off, just didn’t feel right, left you uncertain as to what exactly the truth was, and who was and was not telling it.

For a long time you believed your parents to be the ones misinformed. Not liars outright, but biased because they loved you and maybe their eyes did behold beauty when spying yours, huge and round on your small, oval face. A skinny, long-legged wisp with elfin ears may have matched their description of beautiful identically but elsewhere, out in the world, you knew based on what you saw, heard and experienced there weren’t many who shared their concepts.

The dolls you loved made it clear that beautiful was blonde. Beautiful had blue eyes. Beautiful had a tiny waist and tiny feet. Beautiful had skin like blush, pink roses and beautiful had hair down its back that bounced and flowed. Even Christy, the one Black Barbie you did own, came in a covered box unlike the White Barbie whose packaging had a clear, plastic front. You didn’t know until you got Christy home and opened her up that her hair was a tight, matted ball of fuzz that didn’t bounce or flow and could hardly even be combed. Her skin was so dark Black that her red mouth and white eyeballs looked clownish and not at all pixie-like. You remembered feeling cheated for the fraudulent Black Barbie that you’d been excited to own. Barbie, who represents the most beautiful can’t be Black! You’d thought.

The books you loved, Nancy Drew in particular, who you wished to be because of her quick wit, adventurous spirit, and parents who had enough money to afford maids, vacation homes and whatever Nancy wanted despite not having to work three jobs like your mother did, spoke of ‘darkies’ and ‘colored’ boys and girls being ‘unkempt,’ or ‘unusually civilized.’

This evidence worked against your parents for years, decades even. It shaped how you viewed yourself, your desires and friendships. It shaped what you believed to be fundamentally true about tall, long-legged, wide-hipped, thick-lipped, long-necked, high prominent cheek-boned, wide-nosed, nappy-headed, Black girls like you. You, none of you, not a single one, were beautiful. Had you actually been at least one magazine or commercial or billboard or doll baby or celebrity on television or in the movies would have told you so. You would have seen your Black faces prominently posed and desirable somewhere but you didn’t. Not once, not ever. Until one day you did.

On the cover of an Ebony magazine from February of 1966 you saw it. A headline that read: “Are Negro Girls Becoming Prettier?” It was 1989 at the time. You’d spent most of your life chemically straightening your hair and dieting to achieve a beautiful body, skinny and lithe, not at all like the curves your body was comprised of. The realization came forward in your mind like a storm moving across the horizon.

The women, grown women, being referred to as girls on that February 1966 Ebony cover were just like Black women you’d always known. Afros, skin like paper bags, copper pennies, sand, Earth and coffee, tall, curvy, long-legged, Black women. They were just like you. No one was becoming prettier, you’d always been, and what you realized that day in 1989 is that society knew it too, had always known it. It’s the reason why Mr. Johnson, Ebony magazine’s founder, had to phrase the truth as a question. Stating it as fact would have let the mainstream know we were on to them. It’s the reason why America worked so hard to make you believe otherwise. It isn’t necessary to undermine one who is already void, their reality makes manipulation unneeded. Your parents had not lied, they’d been filling you with an anti-toxin they knew you’d need to navigate the conspiracy without any permanent damage.

Now that you know the truth with the same certainty you know you will breathe with each inhale, you relish how much darker your skin gets in the summer when you’ve spent more time outside. You choose to color your mouth with purples, pinks and reds that make your full lips more prominent and kissable than God did when He designed them in the first place. You embrace those wide, full hips and feel pride in the role they played of effortlessly bringing two lives into the world; perfecting a walk that slings them just so, ensuring that onlookers are aware of the bounty that is you. And that hair. That tight, nappy, ‘unblonde’ hair. Hair that you’ve wished to be something else: more straight, more bouncy, more like a White woman’s, your entire life is proudly and naturally chemical-free. Soft, kinky, coiled locks that touch your shoulders create a halo around beautiful, Black you. They remind you of the lie you were force-fed and how thankful you are to be finally free to choose your own menu and to decide exactly how you’ll prepare and serve it up.

What is REALLY Going On in the Minds and Hearts of Anti-Gay Business Owners?

by Patricia Davis

As the mother of a gay son, I’d like to know. I really would.

I’d like to understand why people who claim to love the Lord, or to believe in God, think that it is their responsibility to judge other people—thoroughly and harshly. Having judged, they then treat those they condemn with disrespect and derision. They seem to believe this is what God wants them to do. I wonder why they believe in such a God.

I’d like to understand. I really would.

Certain religious individuals who have opened businesses to the public now want to sub-divide that public into two categories: those they will serve, and those they will not. It appears that the only people they will not serve are gay people. They are basing their criteria on sin. They say homosexuality is a sin, and they will not serve people they believe are sinners in their place of business.

I’d like to understand why they are picking on gay people. Those who believe that homosexuality is sinful are surely aware there are other behaviors they would deem to be sinful. How about heterosexual couples who enter their establishment? Are the owners questioning them about their bedroom practices? Many heterosexual couples practice so-called sodomy. Some married couples swing (consensual adultery), or cheat behind their spouses back. What about pedophiles? You cannot tell by looking at a person that he is molesting children. If one of these monsters comes into your store with a ring on his finger and an acceptable female spouse at his side, you don’t have a problem waiting on him? I wonder why not.

Equally frustrating are people who have accepted government positions—becoming public servants—who now want to claim the same right to discriminate against certain members of that public. We have seen clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples after the Supreme Court decision; some are getting support from lawmakers. Why do these public servants think they have the right to decide whom they will serve? Imagine the number of people marriage license clerks have served over the years who have committed sins far more damaging than loving someone of the same sex. If lawmakers and public officials are elected or appointed to represent everyone in their districts, why discriminate against gay people?

I’m trying to understand, I really am.

I have a personal stake in mitigating this perplexing and frustrating issue of selective discrimination. I am the mother of a son who is smart, funny, hard-working, kind, loving, and who happens to be gay. I did not bring him into this world to be humiliated by people who are uncomfortable with the idea that some people are wired to be romantically attracted to people of their same sex.

I like to figure things out, so here are a few theories.

(1) Part of the discomfort (and I prefer to think of it that way, as opposed to outright hatred) may be that we are not used to seeing gay couples out of the closet. They remained hidden for many years, and all we ever saw were straight couples. Sometimes, change brings its own discomfort.

(2) Perhaps our religious fellows are a little too focused on sex. Gay couples do not wish to be out in order to stimulate mental images of people having sex. They just want to be honest about who they are, and not pretend they’re straight when they are not. They want to feel as free as heterosexual couples to walk around holding hands, or to exchange a quick kiss, and not act as though the person they are in love with is a good buddy.

(3) Many people seem to be uncomfortable with mature, adult conversations about sexuality. We see sex everywhere, of course; but trying to have an adult conversation about sexual matters—not personal details, just things like how to talk with your kids about sex, or whether it is more meaningful to be monogamous than promiscuous—is sure to elicit giggles and discomfort. So I wonder if that is another aspect of uneasiness with homo-sexuality: the word itself contains the letters s-e-x.

My theories point to reasons why marriage equality and legal protections for the entire LGBT community may be threatening to more conservative religious believers. The reality is, however, that this minority population does need extra protections. Until gay, lesbian, and transgender people are free to walk around unaccosted, we need voices united in a demand for respectful treatment and equal rights for all of our citizens.

I accept that it may be challenging for conservative religious believers to overcome their internal obstacles to acceptance and support of the LGBT community. Because this issue is so important to me, however, I humbly propose a few suggestions that may help to alleviate this discomfort.

(1) Try to relax into our changing society. You may not be used to seeing two men or two women holding hands, but ask yourself if they are harming anyone. Instead of reacting negatively, perhaps you could handle your encounters with a gay couple the same way you would a straight couple. Remember that they are just trying to live their lives like everyone else. Be kind.

(2) When you see a gay couple, don’t allow yourself to start imagining what they might do in their bedroom. Instead, focus on your job. Sell your goods; carry out your duties as a public servant. You could even take things a step further, and look into their eyes. Consider that you have no idea what hardships these people have endured. Can you imagine the courage it has taken for them to move through a world that can be judgmental and hostile? Think about how they will feel when they walk away from you. Do you want them to feel ashamed and humiliated? Because if that is truly your goal, something bad has happened to your heart. You may be the person who needs the most prayer and healing.

(3) Just being around gay people need not instigate conversations about sexuality; in fact, it should not. Yet the fact that LGBT people are coming out into the open, being true to who and how they are in the world, challenges everyone else. Instead of dissolving into fear and discomfort, however, we could view this as an opportunity to take a look at our attitudes toward sexuality and gender. We might become a healthier society if we have some mature, adult conversations about these issues.

I hope that this essay might motivate you, as religious business owners and public servants, to consider more deeply the impact of your behaviors on gay people, and on the people who love them. I fully support your right to live the way you feel is correct and true to God’s will. But I would also ask you to cultivate some humility around your religious belief system. I can’t help but wonder why you are so sure you know God’s will. But even if you do—let’s just say you’re right, everything a person would want to know about God’s will can be found in the Bible—not all of us believe that. If you are right, I suppose the rest of us are in trouble; but that is not your concern. Perhaps you could let us use our God-given intelligence to make our own decisions. Pray for us, if you wish, but have enough humility to admit that our perspective is as valid as yours. You may feel uncomfortable around gay people, but your discomfort does not justify being rude or cruel. Maybe with prayer, God can help you figure out a way to be more kind, accepting, and loving in the world.

And consider that, perhaps, God created gay people to help us all move in that direction.

The Student Union: A Golden Opportunity

After attending the “Community Meeting” called by Joe Cronin and Matt Carson on Saturday, 11-10-12, other students and I found ourselves asking the question: What is the intention of the Student Union? This is a salient question, and it deserves our thoughtful reflection. I believe intentions are important, for they drive the language we use and the actions we take.

I had only attended one student union meeting before, but what I heard from many of the students at that meeting as well as at the 11-10-12 meeting were ideas imbued with positive, creative energy. It is always interesting to hear a diversity of opinions—we can learn so much from each other. It can also make for lively discussions that have the potential to go down a not-so-positive road. This is where our intentions become important. If our intentions are positive—if our intentions are to lift each other as well our campus—we will likely make decisions that create a vortex of excitement.

We are at a critical juncture as this Student Union gets off the ground. Together, we can make our Student Union whatever we want it to be. I repeat my earlier question and ask you to consider it as we move forward: What is the intention of the Student Union?