Liza's Glass Eye
I can't remember who it was, but someone in my family once told me that Liza Minnelli had a glass eye.
As a child, this fascinated me. I spent countless hours wondering how she lost her eye and how she acquired her new one. Whenever she came on television I would look very closely to see if I could tell which one it was. I never could.
A few decades later, my wife and I engaged in a spirited debate over the accuracy of this information. It went something like this:
Dwayne: You know, it is a little-known fact that Liza Minnelli has only one eye.
Sue: Who told you that?
Dwayne: I can't remember.
Sue: Well I highly doubt it.
Dwayne: It's true. If you look real close, you can tell.
Sue: No you can't.
Dwayne: That's because she has a lot of money, and she paid for a very realistic prosthetic eye.
Sue: OK, but I think you have her mixed up with someone else.
Dwayne: Mixed up with someone else?
Sue: The condition you are speaking of is called acquired monocular vision. It is what they call it when someone loses an eye. Many famous people have lost an eye. Sandy Duncan, Peter Falk, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jack Elam…
Dwayne: You think I mixed up Liza Minnelli with Jack Elam? Have you ever even seen Jack Elam?
Sue: Yes. I have. And so has Liza Minnelli…with both of her perfectly healthy eyes.
That evening, I spent hours online poring over Liza Minnelli biographies looking for mentions of birth defects or accidents with pencils.
Sue: You haven't found anything yet have you?
Dwayne: That's because she doesn't like people to know.
Sue: Or maybe you're wrong.
Admitting the Hard Truth
Imagine that. Over 30 years of believing something and suddenly finding out I was completely wrong. My beliefs about Liza Minnelli's glass eye were so ingrained into my brain that I could not imagine myself believing otherwise.
It is a difficult thing for me to admit when I am wrong. One would think for as many times as I have been wrong, it would eventually get easier. It may be that with all of my practice, I am just getting good at it (or bad at it, as the case may be).
A few years ago, I was asked to give my opinion of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the practice of print shops paying them for a certification process. The payment I was quoted at the time was about $3,000 per year which, in our setting, qualifies it as a capital expense.
I reached deep into my great well of knowledge on such matters and imparted my wisdom to the inquirer standing before me: "Why should I give $3,000 to someone sitting behind a desk somewhere so that I can have the right to put that someone's logo on our print collateral," I said confidently. "We are already practicing responsible stewardship of natural resources by carefully choosing the paper we buy and by complying with government regulations on waste disposal.
"It is difficult to be in the printing business," I added, "and not be environmentally responsible."
Even as I spoke these words, something in the back of my mind began to trouble me. I realized I had drawn my conclusions on this matter through the lens of my desire to be fiscally responsible. It had not occurred to me that all of the print shops that were paying for sustainability credentials were experiencing the same budget challenges I was facing. I found myself wondering why financially strapped institutions found value in FSC certification.
Back to the Internet
Having honed my Internet research capabilities defending my position on Liza Minnelli's ocular condition, I sat down at my computer and went to work.
In no time at all, I learned that the values of the Forest Stewardship Council were closely aligned with the values of Messiah College, where I work. I read that the FSC was seeking to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, and violence against people and wildlife that often accompanies logging. Messiah College would be proud to ally itself with an organization making such efforts. Our educational programming emphasizes the social, ecological and economic aspects of sustainable human communities.
In addition, I learned that the FSC was working with loggers, foresters, environmentalists and sociologists to guide forest management toward sustainable outcomes. In the same way, Messiah's award-winning campus tree care plan exemplifies responsible forest management.
More Than a Logo
As I conducted my research, I realized that achieving FSC certification did not just provide a logo through which we could communicate to our campus how much we cared about trees; it also provided us the opportunity to serve as a conduit, connecting our institution's local undertakings to global sustainability efforts.
More than that, I have come to acknowledge the responsibility and privilege we humans have to care for our environment. The earth's forests are now roughly half the size they were 8,000 years ago. An area of tropical rain forest the size of Indiana vanishes from our planet each year. The scientific data correlating species extinction rates, land degradation and global warming to deforestation is staggering. In my lifetime, the human population of the earth has doubled and it is estimated to reach 9 billion by the year 2050.
Even if you were missing one eye, it would be impossible not to see the strain this many people will put on the world's resources. I did not just accept the need for our shop to achieve FSC certification, I ran towards it as if my life depended on it and I am convinced it does.
Last November Messiah College Press became FSC Chain of Custody Certified under the guidance of Printers Green Resource, LLC. It has made a world of difference to me to know we are making a difference in the world. I cannot think of a better investment of our resources.
Dwayne Magee is now in his 17th year as director of Messiah University Press and Postal Services. His department was recipient of the 2018 IPMA Organizational Impact Award, the 2015 IPMA Innovation Award, the 2017 ACUP Green Service Award, and the 2015 ACUP Collaborative Service Award. Prior to joining Messiah, he worked for 17 years at Alphagraphics as an assistant manager and ISO coordinator. He is president of the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He is currently an English major (part-time) with a concentration in writing at the college where he works. Outside of work, Dwayne enjoys exploring spiritual, environmental and social concerns through creative writing and the arts. He can often be found speaking on the topic of diversity in bookstores, public libraries and elementary schools, where he makes use of his award-winning children’s book “A Blue-Footed Booby Named Solly McBoo.” His travel writing and fictional essays have made appearances in various publications including the Northern Colorado Writers Anthology and the Goose River Anthology published by Goose River Press. Dwayne is the father of two boys and he resides in Mechanicsburg, Pa., with his wife Sue and their two dogs. Contact him at: DMagee@Messiah.edu