Tag Archives: hope

Fred Rogers, the patron Saint of being a neighbor.

I am not a fan of the item known as the “Google Doodle.” Far too often, as many have noted, they are extremely one sided, indeed, the charge can be made that they show explicit bias in who and what they choose to celebrate. This once, however, I believe they got it right, and a duly-approved tip of the hat is hereby given to them as they celebrate Fred Rogers and his legacy.

51 years ago today, the first episode of what would become an American institution, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, was filmed. It did not air until the following February, but it was filmed on September 21, 1967.

Whether you grew up watching him or not, love him or hate him one thing can be said about Fred Rogers: he truly exemplified what it meant to be a neighbor and to love others as Christ loved them. No, he didn’t use his show to explicitly preach the Christian ethics that he believed. No, he didn’t thunder and bellow Hellfire and damnation to those he met whom, I am sure, he knew were living a life that did not hold with the morals he ascribed to. (Many have said he should have, which is a sentiment that I disagree with. That wasn’t his calling.) What he did do was remind everyone who watched his show, and everyone who met him that they were special. They were unique. In all this universe and beyond, there was no one just like them. No one was MORE special, no one was LESS special. We were ALL special in our own, unique ways.

That’s worth celebrating.

Here’s an article from Forbes on the Doodle itself, and his legacy.


God bless, my friends.



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!


In honor of Superman (the real one, I guess you’d say)

**The image used can be seen at full size, here. Unfortunately I had to resize it to fit on the blog post.- The Doctor 

I was doing some reading and I saw this today. It really made me think. Written by Grant Morrison who, I presume, is a recent author/writer of some of the newer Superman comics, it puts some ideas forth that I had not thought of, but can definitely agree with and identify with. I believe that there is some definite encouragement here in the form of this sentiment – underneath, we’re ALL ‘Superman’ if we want to be and choose to be. He’s the pinnacle of what it means to CHOOSE to do good with the abilities you have, whatever they may be, instead of taking the easier way and looking out only for yourself or using the circumstances of your life as a reason to cause pain to others. 

I draw this contrast because there seems to be almost a mania with the character of Batman these days, but as I have expressed before, Batman may ultimately do “good” in some form, but he himself is as dark and in many ways as twisted as the criminals he fights. (I keep going back to The Real Ghostbusters – “When Good adopts the ways of Evil, it becomes Evil.”) That, to me, is the inherent difference between Superman and the current incarnations of The Batman, and why I prefer one over the other. Batman is the opposite; he’s what happens when you let the circumstances of your life decide who you are, now and forever, and make you dark and angry instead of trying to rise above them. No matter what spin is put on it, Batman is, in his current incarnations, a sick man who never let go of his parents’ death and lives on the pain it caused him.

I don’t see that as a particularly encouraging role model. Do you?

All that aside, I hope you find the quote, below, as encouraging as I did, and it lifts your spirits today.

God bless you today, my friends!

“In the end, I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character, but as a story of Everyman. We’re all Superman in our own adventures. We have our own Fortresses of Solitude we retreat to, with our own special collections of valued stuff, our own super–pets, our own “Bottle Cities” that we feel guilty for neglecting. We have our own peers and rivals and bizarre emotional or moral tangles to deal with.

I felt I’d really grasped the concept when I saw him as Everyman, or rather as the dreamself of Everyman. That “S” is the radiant emblem of divinity we reveal when we rip off our stuffy shirts, our social masks, our neuroses, our constructed selves, and become who we truly are. Batman is obviously much cooler, but that’s because he’s a very energetic and adolescent fantasy character: a handsome billionaire playboy in black leather with a butler at this beck and call, better cars and gadgetry than James Bond, a horde of fetish femme fatales baying around his heels and no boss. That guy’s Superman day and night.

Superman grew up baling hay on a farm. He goes to work, for a boss, in an office. He pines after a hard–working gal. Only when he tears off his shirt does that heroic, ideal inner self come to life. That’s actually a much more adult fantasy than the one Batman’s peddling but it also makes Superman a little harder to sell. He’s much more of a working class superhero.

American writers often say they find it difficult to write Superman. They say he’s too powerful; you can’t give him problems. But Superman is a metaphor. For me, Superman has the same problems we do, but on a Paul Bunyan scale. If Superman walks the dog, he walks it around the asteroid belt because it can fly in space. When Superman’s relatives visit, they come from the 31st century and bring some hellish monster conqueror from the future. But it’s still a story about your relatives visiting.”

A blog post, courtesy of Captain America!

***Let me begin by saying that I do not know who drew the picture that I used as the image for this post. If you do, PLEASE inform me so that I can give them proper credit! It is, to say the least, SUPERB. If you have trouble reading the caption, the actual image (along with a digital “redo” can be seen here)

Before they go to school, my sons and I sit and regularly watch cartoons from a bygone age; a time when the good guys were good guys, the bad guys, bad, and they weren’t afraid to inject morals, lessons, patriotism and other things that today seem to be verboten in our society. This morning was the “Captain America” series, done by Marvel in the 60’s. In the episode, Cap and The Avengers were called to a far off country in the Orient and challenged to a battle by the BBEG (That’s Big Bad Evil Guy, for those not familiar with role playing acronyms) called ‘The Commissar.’ Turns out the guy was a robot, the battle was a sham designed to show the peasants that the “Imperialistic Americans” were weaklings, and thereby keep them ground under the heel of the dictatorship. At the end of the cartoon, the people are cheering and Cap says the following:

“You are all free men once more; but be always on your guard. The oppressors of freedom never give up. They lurk in the shadows – watching, waiting.”

Hawkeye promptly makes some clever remark about Cap being a cornball, and I turned to my youngest son and said “Hawkeye was wrong – there’s nothing cornball or cheesy about what Cap said. His statement means as much today as it did then. There ARE always people who want to take our freedoms from us, and they’re always waiting their chance. That’s why we need to be vigilant.” I followed with a simple example from the PC movement, and we talked a bit more, and then he had to go to school, but after he left I began to think about how appropriate Cap’s statement really is. Here in the US, as well as abroad, we have begun to see the slow erosion of the freedoms upon which Western civilization has been founded, oftentimes under the banners of “diversity” and “equality.” We see where the rights of law-abiding citizens are being trampled on by criminals and people dedicated to evil, and see also those events being hushed up for fear of “offending” someone, or simply because it doesn’t fit the narrative. (The violence and issues of rape that are only now being acknowledged in countries in Europe; countries that welcomed refugees with open arms, claiming all the while that they were ‘harmless’ and those who spoke out about potential dangers were just hard-hearted and xenophobic) More and more, we see the phrase “All men are created equal – but some are more equal than others” as preferential and, in some cases, downright discriminatory action is given to some based on their ethnicity or heritage, but not to others. Here in the US, the contentious issue is gun control, which would only serve to disarm those who obey the law since criminals, by definition, do not. (And, as one person said – I’ve yet to see an ‘evil’ gun as opposed to an evil person using a gun)

I do not believe it is too late. We’ve been asleep, yes, and the erosion has continued virtually unabated, but there are signs that people are beginning to stir and wake up to what’s going on. I pray that we are counted among those who are; myself, and whomever may be reading my blog. Leonard H. Courtney said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  Are we vigilant? Are we paying attention to ‘the man behind the screen,’ as the saying goes? When cries go up for “equality” and “justice” are we asking ourselves if it really is those things, are are we reacting with emotion alone and simply jumping on the bandwagon? Is it freedom and justice for all – or just for some?

I close with two quotes from the late Charlton Heston, taken from a speech he gave at Harvard Law School in 1999 entitled, Winning the Culture War. (The entire text and audio of the speech can be found here  and I definitely encourage you to listen to it.) As you read it, think of the things we see going on every day and then ask yourself – “What would I do? What am I WILLING to do?” 

Then DO it.  As Cap says in the caption above, I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one willing to do it- and neither are you.

Together, people have changed the world. I remember one man who did it with just Himself and 12 others, after all.

God bless, my friends. The quotes follow below:

“If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does — does not make you anti-religion. If you accept but don’t celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.

Don’t let America’s universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism. That’s what it is: New McCarthyism. But, what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation?

Well, the answer’s been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand people.

You simply disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don’t. We disobey the social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom.”

“When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself, jam the switchboard of the district attorney’s office. When your university is pressured — your university — is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate with honors, choke the halls of the Board of Regents. When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl’s cheek on the playground and then gets hauled into court for sexual harassment, march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you — petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine’s cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month, boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.

So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God’s grace, built this country.

If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree.”

An update on the First Responder Course!

Well, friends, it’s been a ride and a half, between taking my course to become a CFR (usually called an EMR in other places in the States, but a Certified First Responder here in New York) and with the other things that life has been throwing my way. However, I have finally had the chance to sit down and post this, by way of update –


When I took the test, my instructor asked me afterward what I thought and I told her honestly that I didn’t think I had done very well. That sentiment was echoed by others in the course who had also taken the test, as well. The questions seemed oddly phrased and it seemed as though they had put an emphasis not on practical skills and questions but instead on rote memorization. I was prepared for the fact that I may have not passed it, and was looking into what I would need to do to re-take it. I surely wasn’t going to just walk away!

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, a letter came from our state Department of Health, EMS bureau. I opened it, fully expecting to have found out that I did not pass the test only to find that I HAD. I am now a Certified First Responder in NYS. To all of you, whether you supported me in prayer, in good thoughts and wishes, or by being a reader or visitor to my blog, I offer you a heartfelt THANK YOU. I am truly grateful for the support that I have received and am looking forward to the next steps to take from here.

Most positions for a CFR are volunteer; most organizations that hire paid personnel want at least EMT level, but that’s ok – volunteer or paid, this is what I believe I should be doing, and where I believe I should be right now.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Oh and by the way – what’s stopping you from looking into something similar? Get to it! The world definitely can never have too many people who care, and who know what to do in an emergency; and I’m definite proof that you’re never too old!

God bless today, my friends!


Your past doesn’t define you! An encouraging post for today.

While surfing the ‘net the other day I ran afoul of the brouhaha being generated (at least at the time, anyway) over Ben Affleck and the leaked emails that he pressured PBS execs to suppress the fact that his ancestors owned slaves. When I first read it, I shrugged and more or less said, “Yeah, and? They owned slaves.” (My ancestry is German. You may remember the Germans; feared barbarians, major influence/cause of 2 World Wars, and if nothing else, talk to Publius Quinctilius Varus and ask him about that incident in the Teutoburg Forest. I mean, really.) 

At first blush, his reasoning sounds simple to discern and, indeed, is the conclusion a great many have jumped to; he’s a privileged, rich movie star and so he doesn’t want any icky entanglements with past doings because they may tarnish his image. I don’t know of any thinking, reasoning person who would judge him (or anyone) based on what their ancestors did, but I digress. I believe that this situation illustrates a deeper idea, though, shown in the image attached to this post. Your story MATTERS, but it doesn’t DEFINE you. In this case, his ancestors owned slaves. O.k. He wasn’t there. He had no way of saying neither Jack nor Squat about it. It doesn’t define who he, Ben Affleck, is, today. His actions regarding it, however, do – and have, to a great many people. By trying to hide it or cover it up, whatever his reason, he’s tarnished himself in the eyes of many because of how his actions appear.

Had I the chance, though, I would say the same to Mr. Affleck that I say to any of my readers and, indeed, remind myself of; namely the fact that for any one of us, our past is just that – it’s our PAST. It’s what we’ve done. We can’t undo it, we can’t call it back, and we can’t change it. Our past matters, for reasons both good and bad, however. If it matters for good, it’s because we’ve chosen to learn from it, make changes in our lives to not repeat it, or perhaps avoid situations in which we made poor choices in the first place. If it matters for bad, however, it’s because we’ve chosen (again, it’s a choice) to let it hamper us, hold us down, and mire us there. Many times that’s done through feelings of guilt, or shame, or unfortunately, by feelings of false guilt or shame that are put on us by others. I said it before, and I’ll say it again – YOUR PAST DOESN’T DEFINE YOU. 

Where are you today, friends? Has this hit home, perhaps? Made you think? Called to mind some dig that comes to you from time to time about something that you cannot change, but yet carry with you? If so, let me give you some encouragement – you CAN change it, RIGHT now, starting today. All it takes it a choice. The initial step that begins the work to free you from that is a choice – the choice that says “I’m a product of my past, as we ALL are, but I’m not DEFINED by it and I don’t have to keep carrying it with me.”

Let me leave you with some lines of verse by the Roman satiric poet known to us as Juvenal. The lines have often come to me and made me think, and I hope they do for you as well:

Trust me, no tortures which the poets feign,
Can match the fierce, the unutterable pain
He feels, who night and day, devoid of rest,
Carries his own accuser in his breast.

Whatever it takes – whatever you may need to do, stop carrying that accuser. Find a friend, get some help, if necessary, sidestep that person who just can’t seem to resist reminding you of who you were. Even God doesn’t care where you’ve BEEN, it is said – He only cares where you’re GOING. 🙂 Forgive yourself, and let yourself go on and LIVE!

God bless, today, my friends.

A happy Easter to all!

As I am anticipating a busy weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers and followers (believe me, I appreciate you greatly and am honored that anything I say or post on here is found worthy of reading or following!) a very happy, safe and blessed Easter!

However you may celebrate it; whether you, like me, celebrate the resurrection of Christ, His triumph over death and the hope of eternal life that we have because of it, or you celebrate it in the secular sense with Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies and little kids laughing with delight, some combination of both, or even if you don’t celebrate it at all, my wish for you remains the same.

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.


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 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.

Character – of ourselves, and others too!

I was watching Life is Worth Living the other morning, and Bishop Sheen was speaking on character. Several points he made really stuck with me, and I finally had the opportunity to sit down and share them with you. I believe you’ll find them encouraging, as they can be applied equally whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever. (On the subject of my lack of posts lately, I apologize for the dearth of them. Unfortunately, I have been involved in bringing some enlightenment to our local school district and reminding them that not all parents are willing to surrender their rights at the school doors when their kids walk in the building. They seem to keep forgetting that fact where I’m concerned, and so I need to keep reminding them. It’s fun, but it takes time. I digress, however.)

The first point that he made was that character is a function of the will, not the mind. It was interesting to note that even back in 1953, when the show was broadcast, he mentioned that a majority of schooling was focused on developing the mind of the student, but little to nothing was done to develop the character. We can teach facts, figures and knowledge all that is desired, but it does not bring about a good character in a person. That takes an effort of the will.

The second point built on the first in that he believed that a person who has the capacity in them to do great good has an equal capacity to do great evil, and vice-versa. You may be thinking, “Well, what’s so encouraging about that?” I find it encouraging because to me, it means that there are no “wasted” lives. Any one of us can change at any moment. If you’ve done good, use it as a way to not become full of yourself or, as in the mistake that I made at one point in my life, think that I was so good and SO pure that I could never fall. (I DID, and HARD, too) If you’ve done bad things in your life, realize that you have just as much potential to do good – that potential is just waiting for you to make the decision. No, it may not be peaches and cream, sunshine and rainbows right from Jump Street, but you CAN do it. Don’t give up and think that just because you’ve made mistakes, you’re stuck for the rest of your life. He used the example of Joseph Stalin; “What a saint he could have been,” he said, “had he used his great abilities for good instead of evil as he did.” It was really something to ponder!

Finally, he spoke about ways to develop character in ourselves, and how to help that same growth in others. His statement was to remember this simple idea; look for the BEST in others, and the WORST in ourselves. Now, that means neither that you wear rose-colored glasses with others, nor that you constantly dig for the worst possible points about yourself and beat yourself over them. Instead, he spoke about how in Scripture (it was a Christian show, after all) Christ found a common point at which to work with anyone, no matter who they were. From that point, He built the relationship with them. When we meet others, find a common ground and look for that one good, encouraging point at which you can begin to help them build themselves up. God knows the world works hard enough to tear us all down, right? When dealing with ourselves, we need no more work on building up characteristics about ourselves that are already good ones than a doctor needs treat an ailment that isn’t there. Instead, look for those things that are negative and that hold us back or weigh us down; those things which serve to harm ourselves or those around us and work on those aspects of our character with the intent to make ourselves better people in the end.

It gave me much to think about and I hope it does you, as well!

God bless today, my friend.