Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jim Jackson,Tolerance, & Teddy Bears

My friend Jim Jackson died last night. He was one of the most tolerant people I ever knew. I wish he were here to see the two stories below. He would have done a parody of them that would be biting, funny, with a strong message about ignorance and fear, but would somehow humanize all parties including the ignorant and the fearful. We’ll miss you Jim. Thanks for the caring, the perspective, and the laughs. You helped us see a bigger part of the picture and helped turn rage into compassion.

Gillian Gibbons, let her 7-year-old pupils name a class teddy bear Muhammad and got 15 days in jail in Sudan. She could have gotten 40 lashes and months in jail. “‘She got a very light punishment," said Rabie A. Atti, a government spokesman. ‘Actually, it's not much of a punishment at all. It should be considered a warning that such acts should not be repeated.’" . . . clerics have been driving around Khartoum with megaphones, blaring that the government should whip Ms. Gibbons and Muslims should take to the streets.” British Teacher Found Guilty in Sudan By Jeffrey Gettleman

What if she’d named that teddy bear Jesus instead of Muhammad? I’m sure some local clerics would think she’d be risking the fires of eternal hell for taking Jesus’s name in vain, which would be a lot worse than some Muslim whuppin. It woulda been fine with me if she’d a named him Virgil. It would have been fine with Jim Jackson if they'd a named him Jim.

Another example of tolerance & enlightenment that has been reported in the news was an email by, Arkansas state Sen. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith about undocumented aliens-" We are where we were with the black folks after the revolutionary war. We can't send them back and the more we piss them off the worse it will be in the future. So what do we do,". . . . "I say the governor needs to try to enforce the law and sign the letter of understanding... and at least we can send the troublemakers back. Sure we are being overrun but we are being outpopulated by the blacks also. What is the answer, only time will tell." Meanwhile, Dr. Joycelyn Elders’s visit to Northwest Arkansas went unnoticed. See, Deciding What's News and What's Not

Jim would have known what to say about this to lessen the rage and help us learn from it. I don't.

James R. Jackson James Royce Jackson, 65, died Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007, of ALS at his home in Fayetteville. He was born in San Diego, Calif., on Oct. 6, 1942, the son of Royce and Pearl Elizabeth Newman Jackson. He grew up in Paul's Valley, Okla., where he was a clarinetist and drum major in the school band and became an Eagle Scout. He earned a B. A. in philosophy from Southern Methodist University in 1965. He served in the Peace Corps at the health training center in the village of Ramanagaram in Mysore State (now Karnataka ), India, from 1965-67. Upon his return, he was drafted into the U. S. Army and served in Vietnam. He wrote an engaging memoir about those two disparate experiences," Two Corps: Peace and War. "With other returned Peace Corps volunteers, he worked in the Model Cities Program in Texarkana in the early 1970 s, where he met and married the mother of his children, Virginia "Ginny"M. Neely, who died in 1997.

He moved to Fayetteville in 1973 to attend law school at the University of Arkansas, and earned his J. D. in 1976. He was particularly interested in environmental law and in mediation as an alternative to litigation. He practiced law for 15 years in Fayetteville and Springdale, then enrolled in the library and information studies program at the University of Oklahoma, earning his M. L. I. S. degree in 1992. He worked in the Rogers Public Library before joining the faculty of the Young Law Library of the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1996 as a law reference librarian. He was a Matthew Bender Fellow and a member of the American Association of Law Librarians and the Native American Librarians Association.

A kind, thoughtful, loving and compassionate man with a quiet and reserved manner, Jim had deep and wide-ranging intellectual interests; he was a gifted poet, a creative artist, a skilled and hilariously funny storyteller, a talented musician, and an inspired teacher. But the role he loved most and what he may have been best at was being a father. His children meant everything to him, and he was a completely caring, engaged, involved and loving parent.

A truly wonderful father, grandfather, husband and friend, Jim is survived by his wife, Barbara G. Taylor of the home; his son, Keefe N. Jackson of Chicago; his daughter, Margaret "Margot"E. E. Jackson of Fayetteville; his step-daughter, Jennifer E. Enos and husband Henry of Springdale; his step-son, Lev K. Desmarais and wife Joanna Richardson of Parker, Texas; three grandchildren, Corinne T. McKimmey, Nathan T. Enos and Kailani R. Enos; a brother, Stephen K. Jackson and step-brother, J. Michael Taylor, both of Oklahoma City; several aunts, uncles and cousins, numerous friends, worldwide, and by Sophie Fluffy Dog Jackson, who is also a member of the family.

He was a Senior Dharma Teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen, and he and his wife Barbara founded the Morning Star Zen Center in Fayetteville in 1986. A memorial service will be held in Fayetteville within the next few days at a time and place to be announced, and a forty-nine-day ceremony will be held on Jan. 16, 2008.

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in Jim's memory to the George A. Strait Minority Scholarship Endowment, American Association of Law Libraries, 53 West Jack son Blvd., Suite 940, Chica go, IL 60604; to the Friends of India, 34915 Gordy Road Laurel, DE 19956; to the Kwan Um School of Zen, 99 Pound Road, Cumberland RI 02864; or to another char ity. Arrangements were by Moore's Chapel. To sign the online guest book, visit

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