Category Archives: hope

YOU ARE IMPORTANT. BELIEVE IT!

Today’s post is a serious one. It stems from having read of two recent suicides in the news, and the thoughts that came to me after reading of them. As many of you who have been readers of The Takedown know, I have lost friends to suicide and it has had a great impact on who I am and what I believe. The sticky post – the first post anyone sees when they come to this blog, in fact – is a post of encouragement to one who may be feeling alone. It’s that important. I’ll open the blog with one of my all-time favorite quotes from the original series of Star Trek. In the scene, the Captain is expressing doubts about his course of action and Leonard “Bones” McCoy, says the following:

“In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that… and perhaps more, only one of each of us. [pause] Don’t destroy the one named Kirk.” (Italics and bold added by me)

It’s a powerful statement. Think of it and refer to it as I continue. I mentioned suicides in the opening of the blog but before I begin, let me make a couple of things clear. It is not my intent to, in any way shape or form judge the person or the action, and I won’t tolerate comments that do. I know I’ve been there and have had those thoughts but, by God’s grace never went through with it.  I can’t imagine what must finally be the breaking point that causes a person to take that final, fatal step. I just know that all too often, it happens, and all too often, I don’t believe it needs to.

The first being that of a student in Texas named Thomas Klocke. Amid allegations that he had harassed a gay student, after apparently being denied due process in the most egregious fashion, and faced with what he perceived as the end of his career and/or ability to continue his education, he took his own life. He was set to graduate, had no prior mental health issues or problems on campus – and now is dead.

The second is the death of Aaron Hernandez, convicted of murder and serving a life sentence without parole. Whatever we may think of him or his crime, whatever we may believe or not about the rumors of why he did it, one inescapable fact remains. Something drove him to such despair that he ended his own life.

Friends – it’s as simple as this, and something that we all need to hear and be reminded of. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE THE ONLY “YOU” THERE IS. There is only one thing in this world worth giving your life for – and you can find it in John 15:13 (“Greater love has no one than this; than someone lay down his life for his friends.”) There’s nothing – NO THING – on this planet worth your life unless it is the life of another person. No job, no relationship, no amount of money, no anything is more important than remembering that you are the only you there is. You are important because you ARE. Because you EXIST.  You can’t know what effect you have had or can have in the future. Have you made mistakes? Welcome to the club. Have you screwed up relationships? Join the human race. Committed crimes? Done bad things? Welcome to being human. It doesn’t define who you are, or what you can be. 

Thomas Klocke’s career wasn’t worth his life. What an example, an inspiration he could have been had he stayed and fought – stood his ground and refused to be silenced.

Whatever remorse or secrets or anything else that Aaron Hernandez may have felt or may have had weren’t worth HIS life.

Take the above quote – the one from Star Trek – and insert YOUR name instead of Kirk’s. “Dont destroy the one named…” 

Remember that you are important!

God bless, my friends!

 

I’m back! Encouragement for today – never stop trying to make a difference, to yourself and others

Man, what a busy couple of months this has been. Between the normal things of summer, a funeral for a friend’s mother, and the number of hours I have been volunteering at the local ambulance corps, it seems like I’ve been hitting the ground running almost every day.

You know what, though? After almost 13 years of being a home dad with 2 special needs kids, it feels good. Sure, I was busy with them, their schooling and making sure that the school system did what it was supposed to do where they were concerned, but it wasn’t the same. This is just – different. How? I don’t know if I can put it into words but I’ll try.

Working at the ambulance corps has taught me a lot about myself. It’s forced me to move out of my comfort zone (a zone that is reinforced by the fact that I fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and so it can be very hard for me to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar) to make new friends and learn to work and be part of a team again, and it’s also taught me that being older isn’t the same as being DEAD.

Did you catch that? It’s not. I was 44 when I received my certification as a New York State Certified First Responder. 44. I am working with a lady (and I am proud to call her that, too, as well as one of the most phenomenal friends I have ever been blessed to have) who is 30 and is a paramedic. Most of the other people in my class were significantly younger than I was. It would have been easy to just back off, drop out and say “Nah, I’m too old for this. Too old to change, to stick my neck out. I waited too long/started too late.” MAN am I glad I didn’t! I would have missed out on so very much, not the least of which was learning an entirely new skill set in order to be certified!

In the short time that I have worked with the Corps I have personally participated in:

  • Helping to ease the worry and concern of people who needed to be transported to the hospital, generally by informing them that I’m the driver and I “won’t do a stitch over NINETY” (That never fails to make them laugh) or some remark about running people off the road if I have to. (That gets a chuckle, too)
  • Reassuring those in distress that we will give them the absolute best care we can, and also to help the families realize that and ensure they know how to get to the facility to which we are bringing their family member
  • Learning to use the ambulance both in non-priority (no lights and sirens) and priority (lights, sirens, and the whole 9 yards) calls, and the safe way to do both. (Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just hit the lights, hit the sirens and stomp the gas)
  • Resuscitating a man who had gone into a full blown cardiac emergency (we’re talking no pulse, heart stopped, the works) and by the grace of God, giving him more time to live and hopefully get those things corrected that had caused it to happen

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Guys, gals, aliens from other planets – whoever is reading this – if you take nothing else away from this, take this away. Until the day comes when you stop breathing for good, it is never too late. It’s never too late to make a positive difference to someone else, or to yourself. It’s never too late to make a change in your life, to pursue a dream, or to learn something new.

The only one stopping you, many times – is YOU.

So, what do you say?

God bless, my friends.

As quick to compliment as to criticize – a follow up to “What happened to humor? Part II”

I was, when I first saw the news break, quick to post my take on the new Will Ferrell “comedy” that was upcoming; namely the one that was supposed to deal with Ronald Reagan’s battle with Alzheimer’s in a ‘humorous’ manner. I spoke my piece, and wished fervently that the backlash that appeared to be gathering steam; backlash both from people who loved AND hated the late, former President, might make someone have some second thoughts.

Apparently, it has. News has come out today that Will Ferrell has backed out of the making of that particular movie. Rumors are swirling as to why, with some giving credit to the public outcry and others saying that he did it because he knew he was going to hurt his career and/or his wallet. To me, the reason is academic. He could just as easily have given everyone the middle finger and gone right on with his plans, but instead he chose to step down and not continue with making the movie.

As I was quick to criticize, I also shall be quick to give him a tip of the hat and say, “Well done, sir. Thank you for doing the more tasteful and, in my opinion, classy thing.” Perhaps he had a change of heart. I have no problem with taking the more generous route and believing that he did.

God bless today, my friends.

 

What happened to humor?

I have, as of late, been thoroughly enjoying video clips of Craig Ferguson cutting up with the late Robin Williams on Ferguson’s late night TV show of years past. They are a treat to me, although I have to confess that too much of the good Mr. Williams (especially when laced with a heavy dose of Mr. Ferguson) tends to make me somewhat manic for the rest of the day! My sons love it – my wife keeps edging toward the phone, smiling. Go figure.

I digress, though.

Today, I came across this clip of Craig Ferguson, and it truly made me sit back and do some thinking. It also gave me the post that you are now reading. Yes, it has some humor interspersed, but the overall message is a very serious one. Here’s the clip:

When he got done, I sat and thought about what he had said and realized that I, like him, agree that many times, the price that is paid in the name of “humor” is simply too high. When we look at the Anna Nicole Simpsons, the Britney Spears, the Lindsay Lohans – these are people who, although they are ultimately responsible for their actions, need help, and need it badly. They aren’t, to me, proper fodder for jokes and comedy routines. It’s like when Family Guy started featuring the old man who was a pedophile (Herbert, I believe his name is) – I remember distinctly telling a friend of mine that at that point, I stopped watching it. They had crossed a line that, to me, you don’t cross. There’s nothing funny about a pedophile, at least not to me. (To be fair, FG had been getting closer to that line for a LONG time, but that was finally the last straw, I guess you would say) When you look at the trainwrecks of lives that we now regularly see and follow on TV, on “reality shows” and the like, somehow they stop being funny when you realize that that’s a real person you’re watching, who is suffering real consequences for their very real actions. Craig Ferguson had, at the time of this video, been 15 years sober. He knew what it was to have been at the bottom, and to have found help and to fight every day to stay sober, and keep his life in order. Although I’ve never been an alcoholic, I know what it is like to lose complete control of your life and have to, essentially, rebuild it and realize just exactly who you are and what you’re doing. He realized that it wasn’t a subject for quick, cheap laughs and I applaud him for it.

Now, why am I saying this? Am a Fascist who wants to censor free speech or ban “that” kind of humor? Hell no. People have the right to choose what they find funny and not. What I am is a person who believes, as apparently Mr. Ferguson does, that sometimes there is a line in humor, and that we need to be cautious of crossing it. When you make humor out of someone destroying their lives, harming themselves or others, and the like, I firmly believe that you’ve forgotten the very real things that you, yourself, have done that have harmed you or others – or if nothing else, have forgotten a simple thing like compassion. Compassion doesn’t mean you excuse the behavior – but it does mean that you don’t join in with the roar of the crowd like a bloody coliseum. Humor doesn’t need to be cruel in order to be humor.

I don’t like what these people are doing to themselves – but I also won’t sit and gleefully watch them drive themselves into the ground. It could just as easily be me, there, being watched by others, if there were circumstances in my life that had been different, and if I had not, by the grace of God, gotten help and had real and true friends and family who helped and supported me. Every day is a battle to make sure that it doesn’t become me.

You know what? It could just as easily be YOU.

If it IS you, remember something he said at the end – there are people who can help. They’re very close to the front of the telephone directory, or a few keystrokes away on the internet. You are not alone. Don’t give up.

God bless today, my friends.

 

 

The Lone Ranger and how times change, but Truth doesn’t

I am very happy, as a father, that I have had the chance to sit and watch shows like The Lone Ranger with my sons. (Mind you, when I speak of the Masked Man, I’m speaking of the original and best – Clayton Moore.)  It gives me the chance to illustrate some ideas to them as we watch it; namely that there are principles and ideals/ideas that never change. Mankind’s ideas change, and the world may change, but some principles never do. It made me hearken back to a scene from the second Captain America movie, in which Nick Fury was telling Captain America that he needed to “get with the program;” i.e., change his principles to fit the times. Cap’s response was classic – “Don’t hold your breath.”

For those who may not have seen it, or would like to again, here it is:

Captain America, in the movie, refused to change his principles and give them up “because times have changed.” He still believed in them, and believed they would work, given the chance. Fight evil? Absolutely. Stand against our enemies? Absolutely. Go to the lengths that they were in the movie and even that we seem to be in the world today, at times? No. There’s a line that you don’t cross. In many cases, as Cap said, “This isn’t freedom – this is fear.” The implication is very direct – living in fear isn’t freedom; it’s just another form of bondage, slavery, tyranny.

In the case of The Lone Ranger, Westerns were full of killing,  (Now, don’t get me wrong – I am NOT a hand wringing “Oh dear, violence in movies!” kind of person. I enjoy watching The Duke punch out baddies or a good gunfight in a classic Western as much as anyone. It’s fiction. I understand it, and my boys do, too. There’s another point I’m making, here. Bear with me) In the original novels and stories, the Lone Ranger followed suit. Clayton Moore, upon taking the role, wanted the Lone Ranger to be a better role model and so he gave him a code to follow. That code was never broken. He stuck to it, no matter how bad things got, no matter how ruthless the villain. He believed that Law, Order and Justice would prevail – he didn’t need to take it upon himself to do so. With the prevalence of heroes whose only difference from the villains is that they either claim to be fighting for “good”(which makes it ok to kill the bad guys wholesale)  or bring the bad guys in, generally after soundly beating them to a pulp (they even have some of the latest incarnations of Superman doing it, for pity’s sake) the Lone Ranger, like Captain America, is a breath of fresh air.

So what’s the point? It’s this. I believe that these two characters exemplify a rather simple point that is forgotten, especially today. The point is stated in the image chosen to represent this post and, even more simply, in this statement – Truth doesn’t change. People can call the truth a lie, but it doesn’t make it one. They can call a lie the truth, but it doesn’t make it so. Likewise things that are good and things that are evil. We live in a world where “does it fit the narrative?” is the yardstick used to measure what is called “truth.”  However – that doesn’t change the Truth inherent in the situations. Gun control, crime, “white guilt,” whatever the cause du jour may be – don’t allow agendas, narratives and the like to determine what is “true.” Find it for yourselves. Once you’ve found it, lay hold to it and STAND there. Nothing is worth compromising the Truth – not position, not power, not wealth. Our local school district hates me because I take an active role in my sons’ education; I teach them the good AND bad of our country and its history and do it in the context of what’s inherent to mankind as a whole. As a result, they know the Truth of history – not just what is taught in an effort to make some into saints and the rest into evil, depraved demons. I teach them the realities of life, rather than the talking points of one group or another, one point of view or another. The realities of life are the realities of life. Truth is Truth.

Find it. Stand for it. Times change. People change. The Truth never does.

I close with this:

“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and the tell the whole world—’no, YOU move.'”

God bless today, my friends.

Character – or – “What are you in the dark, where no one can see?”

“Character is what you are in the dark.” 

That quote, attributed to the American evangelist Dwight L. Moody, came across my desk the other day as I was reading and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s such a part of our collective culture and consciousness that it merits its own trope (a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression)  and has been used in everything from television to comic books to literature. The usual “moral of the story” where this is involved revolves around this basic idea; anyone can do the right thing/the moral thing/the heroic thing when attention is focused on them and there’s nothing to lose, but it takes real strength of character – real heroism – to do what is right when no one is looking, and when no other person would, or even could, perhaps, know. Our world is full of people who are willing to “take a stand” when the cameras are rolling, when it means good PR, and when it means points with this or that group but it does make one wonder, at times – would they be as willing to do so in situations in which this was not true? if there was no photo-op? No news story? No points with the voters/fans/people at large?

It’s something to ponder, eh?

One of the reasons I chose the image that went with this post, today, is because I find it incredibly encouraging. That quote, (one I have never heard of) made by The Batman, illustrates the ideas presented here. Clark Kent/Superman is the same in the light, if you will, as he is in the dark. Batman is not, and he realizes it. if any one of us, like The Batman (although I know he is fictional) realize that as well, we also can change it. Whether or not The Batman ever will is up to his authors – but WE are the authors of our lives. We can change things right now – starting today. THAT is one of the truest encouragements of life. It ties in with your past not defining you, neither now nor for your future. 

I could think of any number of other things to put here to flesh out this post. Windy moralizing, great examples, long lists of those who did just this, or who we believe did, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I believe that the quote, and idea, stand for themselves and so I will close by asking you a question that I, first, have asked myself and continue to ask myself, daily.

When the time comes, who are you? What is your character? Who are you in the dark?

God bless today, my friends.

Some encouragement for you today, courtesy of The Art of Manliness

As a person who struggles from time to time with his depression, I found this article (indeed, the series of articles, “Leashing the Black Dog,” which I am still working through) to be quite encouraging and refreshing to read. I will start by posting this one, as I feel that it holds the most straight from the shoulder “help,” if you will, of them all. I encourage you, however, to go back and read the entire series at your leisure. I can attest, personally, to the amount of information you will glean from them, and how eye opening they can be.

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/03/31/managing-depression/

Where’s the Boot of Truth in all this? It’s here: depression is not unbeatable. THAT gets a Takedown. It’s not necessarily “curable,” either. THAT gets a Takedown. Like any other condition of the mind, it IS something that CAN be lived with and successfully dealt with, with the right help. Do the research, get the help – don’t let yourself be swayed by people who are self-proclaimed “experts.” Make the decisions that are best for you – starting with the most important one; remembering that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Depression, sorrow, melancholy – they are all as common to mankind as are joy, happiness and laughter. Don’t give in, DON’T GIVE UP. Look at the image for today’s post – I found it (no WAY I just “happened” to find it by accident) and realized how appropriate it is. Ask yourself that same question – What’s MY super power? You have one. Trust me 🙂

For my female readers/followers – don’t be put off by the website’s name, either. The “manliness” they are speaking of is not the beer-swilling, gut scratching TV sitcom kind of “man” we see today. It’s manliness in the classic sense. The article’s encouragement can apply just as readily to you, if you are also dealing with these issues. 

God bless today, my friends! HANG IN THERE.

A great gift from a friend, and a good cause!

This past Sunday I was invited to join some friends of mine for a get together at their home. When I arrived I was approached by the one hosting the get together, a great-hearted friend who presented me with the item shown in the picture below:

IMAG0151

The item is a scarf, emblazoned with the words “To Honor And Empower” in the center and the logo of The Wounded Warrior Project on either end. It had been given to him and he, knowing not only my fondness for wearing a scarf (I have a replica of the scarf worn by Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor, which was knitted for me by my wife, the witty little knitter!) but also my love of, and support for our troops and veterans, passed it on to me. To say I was touched was an understatement, and I have worn it, proudly, since then.

Besides being a source of encouragement at a time when I truly needed it as well as a fine gift from a caring friend, it also prompted me to put out information about this group and to encourage any and all who can to consider being a part of it and supporting it. Their website is located here: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ and if you are anything like me, I believe you will be astounded at not only the work that is being done but the work that is planned and the myriad of ways that we, all of us can help. (Among other things, you can make a one time or monthly donation, as well as be a part of their ongoing events, spreading the word about their group, and a number of other things)

I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like the least we can do for those who have put themselves on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy.

PS: If you do a simple Google search about the group, you will (as with most subjects today) find that there are about as many opinions on them as grains of sand on the seashore. Whether it’s this group, the Red Cross, the Disabled American Veterans, or any other charitable organization, it seems to be the same, incidentally. Some people claim that they are completely anti-gun and that they want to take your gun rights away. Others claim that they spend very little on Vets and put most of the money in their pockets. Others claim that they can do no wrong. To that end, I say this – DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH; MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND. Don’t let me, or anyone else, decide anything FOR you. Engage your own critical thinking skills, decide on the veracity of the information you are reading, and then make your own call. All I would say is that if you don’t help this group, find one that you CAN help – our Veterans and active duty personnel deserve at least that much, in my opinion.

God bless today, my friends.

A great compliment paid to me by my son

The picture accompanying this blog post is that of Roger Moore in his role as Simon Templar, a.k.a. “The Saint.” In every episode, when he is either introduced to someone or is named by someone else, a little theme plays and a halo appears above his head. (I’ll digress for a moment and say that if you ever have the chance to watch the series or to read the original books by Leslie Charteris, I heartily recommend you do so. They are good, clean, imaginative fun and are very enjoyable, in my opinion.)

I have developed the habit of watching the series with my sons and, one day, said, “Wouldn’t that be a neat thing, if God did that when you met someone who was a good guy or was on the side of Good; if a halo appeared above their head?” My wife and I chuckled, and my youngest son said something like “Yeah! That would be cool.”

Then my oldest son, who is autistic, looked at me for a second and in a voice that oozed a guileless sincerity that only a person like him can achieve, said, “Well, that would definitely happen to you, Daddy, because you’re one of the good guys. You always try to do good.” 

Dear old Dad had a long moment when he had a lot of trouble trying to say anything after he said that. To say I was touched would be selling it short, as would a lot of other descriptions that I could put into words, so I won’t try. I will say that, as a Dad, I often question what kind of job I’ve done; what kind of example I’ve been or what kind of lessons I have taught my sons or things I have passed on to them. I tend to doubt myself, many times.

Sometimes, the Good Lord sees to it that I get reminded that I haven’t done so badly, after all.

Friends, don’t ever sell yourselves short as to the kind of example you may be to someone else. Whether that example is one of good or ill, you can be assured that someone notices, and someone is watching. I hope this story encourages you to go out and do all you can to be an example of good, of mercy, of kindness to others around you, every chance you get because it DOES make a difference. I was grateful that I had the chance to find out, because many don’t – but don’t let that stop you from trying.

Do good and stand for it. Someone will notice and take heart from it, even if you never know that they do.

God bless today, my friend.