Select Page

Jerry and me

Jerry and me

There is a lot of criticism over the influence and the use of social media platforms as vehicles of misinformation and vitriol.  But there is another story to tell. It is about a guy named Jerry Brown and me.

He died recently.  I grieve him as a dear and valued friend – even shed a tear upon hearing the news.  And that is remarkable because I never met Jerry.  I never heard his voice on the telephone.  We never exchanged emails.  

The only common denominator was that we both spent a lifetime in Chicago – under very different circumstances.  I grew up in an all-white lower-income blue-collar neighborhood on the northwest side.  Jerry spent his life in the segregated inner city.  I staked my political claim with the Republican Party.  Jerry was a staunch Democrat.  We both engaged in civic and political activities throughout our lives.

Other than that, we were just two guys with Facebook accounts.  Somewhere along the line the mysterious Zuckerberg algorithms connected us.  I cannot recall if he had responded to something of mine that popped up on his home page – or something he wrote popped up on mine.  It does not matter.  

However, it started, Jerry and I carried on a multi-year dialogue – or more of a discourse that also included others in those threads.  They were the kind of exchanges you would expect of friends.  We talked of family, the old day, religion, history, health and, of course, politics.  There was no one on Facebook that I interacted with more than I did with Jerry.

Jerry did not like President Trump, to say the least.  And he was not overly fond of Republican policies in general.  But he was both an intelligent and principled person.  He never saw the “other side” as consummate evil – or his side as having a monopoly on goodness.  He was a black man, but he never saw himself as tribal.  As a matter of fact, many of his strongest admonitions were directed to black folks acting badly.  He was as hard on the activities of black gangs as he was on the violence of white supremacists.  It was that ““principal”” thing.

On Facebook, he operated as a self-appointed reporter – drawing attention to things he liked or disliked in his community.  He was also an educator – sharing his years of knowledge and wisdom.  And he was a scold.  He did not hold back when he thought someone needed a good tongue-lashing. 

Jerry also had a sense of humor that seemed to be founded on a general joy of life.  He could express anger at situations but never was an angry person.  We had hoped to meet one day – maybe have dinner.  I imagine that we would have laughed a lot.

If you followed Jerry’s Facebook postings, you would also know that he was a family man – proud of his children and grandchildren.  Bursting with pride, to use the term.  I got to know them to a degree through the postings – and I would say that Jerry had every reason to be proud.  He did a good job as father and grandfather.

I have a lot of family stuff on my Facebook – birthdays, holidays, and the accomplishments of my kids.  Inevitably, there would be a “like” from Jerry – and often that iconic “heart.”

I have often mentioned in commentaries that I had never hated another human … ever.  I saw the same in Jerry.  He looked at every situation through an unadulterated principle of right and wrong.  He had a moral compass that guided him.

His health had been declining in recent years – high blood pressure, cancer — but his lasts posts – a day or so before he died – never gave any hint that the world would lose him so soon.  He was still reporting, educating and … scolding.

I often wondered if it is possible that when we move beyond this mortal plain, we get the God in whom we believed.  I hope that is true for Jerry.  He has earned a high place in the heaven of his faith.

See … social media is not all bad.  I am thankful to have known Jerry and had him as a true “friend.”  I will miss him.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

4 Comments

  1. David Devin

    Dear Larry,

    This is your loyal reader who thinks you are the best possible replacement on Earth for Charles Krauthammer. who I never met but really miss! I never use facebook- but if you are looking for a friend to replace Jerry Brown I would like to be your friend. I am not black and not a grandfather either- although at 77 I would love to have grand kids,

    I love America and therefore support D.Trump. But would also support Candace Owners or the governors of Florida and Virginia.

    If you or anyone you know has high blood pressure I have written a book on how I reduced my high blood pressure to normal or slightly lower than normal without the help of a doctor or the use of dangerous drugs. If you would like a copy of my book, please write me at david_devin11675@yahoo.com

    I wish you all the best,

    David

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Larry, you should either talk to this guy or take his comment about Krauthammer down… after all, it sounds like he’s your greatest booster. It’s not the first time he’s written you here. It’s really hard to find a good sycophant!

      Reply
  2. Ac

    Larry, Jerry sounds like a person who could soften the hardest and most cynical of hearts. His kind should be the cherished jewels in our culture today. Persons as lights in this world are difficult to come by. Wherever we come from , disadvantaged or privileged or some where in between. That does not always determine who we become and what we have worthwhile that adds to social benefits everyone needs.
    Jerry, from your telling, appears to have been a person humble yet strong dignified, self-assured and not haughty, religious without righteousness, and learned in life’s schooling for instruction in his family. A good man persevering through every circumstance and maintaining a positive outlook is an example to us all. His family will find reward from his investment in parental modeling of the best order.
    Larry, from this story, you revealed a side of yourself not so apparent from your opinion writing critical side. Jerry, although known only through Facebook exchanges, made a big impact on you. His passing drew an emotional tearing up, admittedly rare. Opinion writing is generated from your knowledge of the world, a great passion in personal beliefs, a certain world view perception, and completed with a determined will in correctness.
    Seeing Jerry through your eyes, as he undoubtedly was, shows you in a different context. One displaying an ability in you to honor, respect, and (dare it be said) love another person. This other person personifying the total opposite picture from yours. In every character identifying entity, the one obvious thing you share in common is growing up in Chicagoland metro region. Unless, you and Jerry were rabid Cubs fans or nuts over the White Socks, it is unlikely the two of you could know each other.
    As you point out, it’s media mystery magic and quarks in Facebooks algorithms. The very tech detested for invasions in our person privacy and lacking internal restraining measures for users. It is responsible in putting Jerry and his story into your preview. You are probably the better person because of Jerry’s touch in your life experience.
    Keep the vision of Jerry in mind as a point of light. Understand, more people like Jerry was are out there. Good people, moral and honorable, different in every way, and no less worthy of respect because of the differences. Their opinion matters, too. And, good to know you harbor no hate for anyone, neither do I hate anyone. Not agreeing is common and severe distaste of another’s opinions contrary with ours does not have to lead to hating others as persons.
    Hate conjures up a reflex for action. Unmoderated hate allowed stimulates group action . differentiating behavior from mere disagreement bringing demonstrations into feverish hate driven full on rioting. Hate seeks revenge through taking or destroying something of value from hated others. Hate is threatening others’ property, livelihood, and their very lives. Hate never represents justice. It symbolizes breakdown in social mores, especially when rioting breaks out as the solution.
    I am sure you agree, as a conservative, no good comes from rioting’s cost. Getting the attention of the hated, together with causing loss of property and, or life happens needlessly. Its social cost far out weighs any form of justice in punishment sought by rioters.
    Jerry was of an age that he experienced riots effects on Chicago and it residents. His memory of those experiences tempered his resolve in getting through with out devolving into less with hate.

    Reply
  3. Ray Swoope

    Jerry & I went to Avalon Park Elementary School, though he was in my younger sister’s class. He came to my school, Bowen High as a freshman when I was a senior. He was a funny kid who always had everybody laughing. His siblings also went to Bowen but I didn’t know them. Hadn’t seen him since I graduated from Bowen but he remembered me & contacted me on FB, along with my sister & other “kids” from our Avalon Park neighborhood. Jerry always said what was on his mind, even went out after the people who disagreed with him & his posts. He was brave, educated, inciteful, & a good writer. Jerry really opened up the doors to people’s thoughts & beliefs, he had no fear about arguing his point as well as a deep love for family, friends, & foes. Gonna miss his conversations, RIP my brother “Downtown” Jerry Brown.

    Reply

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *