# Personal



Poetic justice?

Editor’s note: This column contains discussion of sexual abuse.

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

Two decades ago, I became dimly aware of the poet Richard Eberhart. Not because of anything he had written or done recently to breach my knowledge gap. Rather, because he was from Austin (Minnesota), as was Dad’s family. Despite his minimal interest in poetry, it was Dad who first brought Eberhart to my attention, logical in light of their shared Austin background.

My curiosity piqued, I began investigating. “Who’s this famous poet… from AUSTIN?”

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Mr. Knott empowered generations to lead self-examining lives

This column first appeared in the Carroll Times Herald, where Douglas Burns is the vice president for news.

In the 1960 movie “Inherit the Wind,” a signature piece of filmmaking that dramatizes the Scopes Monkey Trial, Spencer Tracy’s character, the attorney defending the teaching of evolution in schools, in very animated fashion delivers one of the best lines in cinematic history.

“Why did God plague us with the capacity to think?” says Tracy’s Henry Drummond. “Why do you deny the one thing that sets man above the other animals? What other merit have we? The elephant is larger, the horse stronger and swifter, the butterfly more beautiful, the mosquito more prolific, even the sponge is more durable.”

Drummond is the fictional character based on legendary defense attorney Clarence Darrow who squared off with populist/evangelist William Jennings Bryan in arguably the most significant debate in American history: the Scopes trial in 1925.

“Inherit The Wind” is one of Carroll educator James Knott’s favorite movies.

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My heart is in Ukraine

Janice Harbaugh is a retired counselor and teacher, a fifth generation Iowan and fifth generation Greene Countian. She writes for Greene County News Online covering county government and writing occasional features.

My heart is in Ukraine.

In 1999, my husband and I met a foreign exchange student sponsored by a program in Jasper County. Alona was from a village in Ukraine and she lived with us on our acreage near Mitchellville for several months.

We learned about the history of eastern Europe, the conditions in Ukraine, her family, and her hopes for the future as we traveled around Iowa, showing her our history and treasures. She told us people in Ukraine know Iowa because of agricultural exchanges.

We would visit family in Greene County and I told her this is some of the richest soil in the world. Alona would tease me that soil in Ukraine is “deeper and a little blacker.”  

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Black History Month—Discovering, confronting systemic racism

Glenn Hurst is a family physician in southwest Iowa and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

I grew up the younger of two boys in a military family whose ancestors immigrated from western Europe. By the time I was old enough to be making significant memories, my family had settled into a rural community just outside the Air Force base where dad was stationed in Nebraska. I did most of my growing up in that small town.

This was the late 1970s and early 1980s. To my memory, all the kids in my classroom for the first eight years were Caucasian. I do not recall a single person of color. I do not recall a single book we read or that was read to us where the main characters were anything other than white, mostly male, and gender normative.

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Investing in Americans now will pay off for generations

Dr. Anita Fleming-Rife relates her family’s story in making the case for the Build Back Better Act.

In 1966, thanks to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s anti-poverty programs, I attended the Des Moines School of Practical Nursing—a year-long program. Our government invested in me, paying my tuition, buying my books and uniforms, and providing a stipend. 

When I divorced in 1971, I was able to take care of my three young children without government aid. This investment yielded even more dividends. Because I worked with other professionals who saw my hard work ethic, grit, and determination, they encouraged me to go back to school. I did, and I worked two jobs for the first half of my bachelor’s degree. I transferred from the urban center to a college town with three children in tow and completed my B.A. I would later earn an M.A. and PhD.

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Racism, paideia, personal transformation, and activism

Edward Kelly, Jr. is a former Pentecostal Fundamentalist minister.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in his 1963 book Why We Can’t Wait, “Suddenly the truth was revealed that hate is a contagion; that it grows and spreads as a disease; that no society is so healthy that it can automatically maintain its immunity.”

I was a vicious carrier of that disease, marked by the symptoms of fear, hatred, and bigotry. I carried and spread it as a contagion for 30 years as a Fundamentalist preacher. I took great pride in my views, even referring to myself from the pulpit as a “Bible Bigot”—as if intolerance based on scripture was morally acceptable.

In 1996, while serving as an interim pastor in a small Assembly of God Church in eastern Iowa, I experienced a depressive suicidal crisis. There is something to be said about the Buddhist practice of accepting suffering as a part of the human experience. My depressive episode opened me up to introspection. After treatment, I began a long process—taking two decades—involving paideia.

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