Digging for the Pony

Muck Shovel

My mom shared something with me many years ago that radically changed, and possibly saved my life.  I was going through a rough spot in my career and was drowning under criticism and self-doubt.  Frankly, I was becoming very negative and bitter.  Her anecdote changed all of that.

A mother had twin sons.  Genetically, they were twins.  That’s where the similarities ended.  One child was always pleasant, and the other always difficult.  One was always happy and positive no matter the circumstances; the other always a thunder cloud full of negative ions waiting to emotionally explode.  Naturally, the two siblings were in a constant state of turmoil and tension between themselves and their poor mother found herself increasingly at her wits end.  She decided the only way to restore some sanity to her home was to seek professional counseling.  Maybe a psychiatrist could determine why the boys were emotional opposites.

While in the examining room, the boys were in full character.  The doctors held their chins and shook their heads.  “We’ve never seen anything like this” they told the boys’ mother.  They pinched the boys’ necks, stuck scopes in their ears, shined lights in the boys’ eyes, bonked their knees with rubber hammers and even turned the boys this way and that and end over end.  Nothing offered an explanation.  The one boy seemed to enjoy it all and the other hated it before it even began.  Finally, after much consideration, the doctors exclaimed “We have an idea!”.

The doctors modified and outfitted two observation rooms.  Their goal was trick the boys into experiencing emotional reactions opposite of their normal personalities.  They placed the unhappy brother in brightly painted room #1 and filled the room with video games, toys, candy, ice cream, a merry-go-round and a puppy.  The happy brother was dressed in a waterproof suit complete with hood, boots, gloves and goggles, and placed in room #2; a dimly lighted room with no sound or contents except enough horse manure to bury the boy up to his neck.  Now the doctors and the boys’ mother listened from outside the rooms and watched the boys through two-way-mirrored windows.

Within minutes it became evident the experiment wasn’t working as planned.  Crying and loud complaining emanated from room #1.  The doctors spoke into the intercom “Son.  What’s the matter?”  The miserable boy replied “This is terrible!  I don’t like these games, I hate the color of these walls, I have to use the money you left me to make the merry-go-round work and the puppy is begging for the ice cream – the flavor of which I do not like by the way!”.  The doctors were dumbfounded.  They switched the listening speaker to room #2 and heard the boy happily whistling.  The doctors asked “Son.  Is everything okay?”  “Yes. I’m fine” replied the boy.  “Do you want anything?” asked the doctors to which the boy simply replied “No.”  A few moments later the boy declared “On second thought, there IS one thing I’d like.”  The doctors thought they had succeeded in breaking him.  “What would that be?” the doctors asked with anticipation.  “A shovel please” replied the boy.  “Why a shovel?” asked the confused doctors. “We’ll, I’ve been thinking.  With all this horse manure, there must be pony underneath somewhere and I’m going to dig until I find it!”

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                   curtsavagemedia.com

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Fly Like an Eagle

On America’s Independence Day, I’m contemplating the kind of freedom the Bald Eagle exemplifies.  Agur, the son of Jakeh, wrote in the Bible’s 30th Proverb “the way of an eagle in the sky is too amazing for me to understand”.  I agree with Agur.  Bald Eagles usually fly alone, can achieve speeds approaching 75 miles per hour and can soar to altitudes of up to 15,000 feet enabling them to fly over all but the highest mountain peaks in North America!  Their beautiful but fierce appearance and strength make them a great national symbol for America.

Fly Like an Eagle

My friend James Gresham lives in Washington State and is an amazing wildlife photographer.  His marine bird and Bald Eagle photos are some of the best I’ve ever seen.  With Bald Eagles nesting in Lawrence County now, I’m hoping to get a chance to take some of my own raptor photos.  While leaving church a couple of Sundays ago, I noticed a Bald Eagle gliding overhead, flying toward the Shenango River.  Considering the bird’s astonishing eyesight, it may have had an eye on a fish miles upstream.  It certainly wasn’t concerned with anything near me.  The eagle didn’t make a sound or flap its wings as it glided higher and father away until I lost sight of it.

While writing this, I heard familiar music on our street and ran out to get an ice cream sandwich from our favorite ice cream man Kevin Henry.  He and I got to chatting about how we both see so much of society when we’re driving around on our routes; some good things and some bad.  We both agreed it’s difficult to avoid getting bogged down by all the negative and easy to miss all the positive out there.  We must choose what we’re going to focus on.  This reminded me of that Bald Eagle from Sunday.  We considered how eagles fly high above all the little stuff on the ground and don’t get entangled in all sorts of things that could prevent them from flying.  If only we could “mount up with wings as eagles”.

The Steve Miller Band released the single “Fly Like an Eagle” in 1976.  This song has been used in more “freedom themed” commercials than just about any song I know of.  However, the “freedom song” contains an important message to catch.  In the lyrics are the words “Time keeps on slippin’ into the future.  I want to fly like an eagle, ‘till I’m free, Oh Lord through the revolution.  Feed the babies who don’t have enough to eat, shoe the children with no shoes on their feet, house the people livin’ in the street, oh, oh there’s a solution.”  With freedom comes a responsibility to use that freedom for unselfish ends; a responsibility to pursue freedom for those who don’t have it.  We should never take our freedom for granted.  Time is slipping away for hundreds of millions of people struggling to be free from hunger, poverty, slavery, oppression and persecution; people who are sometimes literally dying to taste our freedom.  This Independence Day, I hope our bonfires and fireworks illumine our minds with ways we can help those less fortunate to mount up with wings and fly free like eagles.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                   curtsavagemedia.com

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Fried Brains

Fried Brains

A lot of people are talking about the 2015 Paris Accord since the United States pulled out of the group of approximately 195 nations who originally signed onto the agreement.  I’m hearing a lot of fear and misinformation.  Fear and propaganda always create power leaders and billionaires.  When a large group of people are afraid or unable to think for themselves, a MUCH smaller group of people are going to become rich and powerful. Considering most of us are unwittingly under the influence of that “much smaller group”, “We the People” MUST corporately continue with the mission of being “America” in an increasingly hostile global theater, for there are many on this marble who jealously desire the loss of America’s sovereignty and even the cessation of our existence.

 

Why would I write such a thing?  Because it’s true.  What makes it true?  Globalism.  The concept of globalism has been around since Adam rose from the dust.  However, Adam’s idea of “the globe” was about the size of Mesopotamia – not that little Amish town in Geauga County, Ohio.   We’re talking about ancient Mesopotamia – Iraq, Kuwait & parts of Syria and Turkey – you know – the place the B-52’s sing about.  There was no way for anyone to affect, or even know about anyone on the other side of the Earth, so the other side simply didn’t exist in Adam’s mind because it didn’t affect him.  Such is not the case these days.  Man can now throw a missile at his enemy half way around the world in about an hour.  We can dispatch spoken or typed words much faster; words with the power to heal or harm.

I’m afraid we’re allowing frightening words to fry our brains.  Is there any discriminatory or original thought or independent and logical analysis anymore?  Or, is all reason and argument the regurgitated product of some global social engineering think tank?  I say the latter is true in most cases.  Without room to go into more detail, I beg you to consider the topic of globalism for yourselves.  Here are some waypoints on the timeline to consider; The formation of the United Nations in 1945, The formation of UNESCO in 1946 and the explosive expansion of globalism under the guise of environmental activism beginning in 1970. President Nixon, by Executive Order, created the EPA in 1970.  It is also not coincidental that the once conservative NEA emerged as a power player in modern liberalism and humanism in the 1970’s.

I was 9 on the first Earth Day in 1970.  I drew pictures of trees and displayed my “Ecology” book covers proudly.  I liked solar power before it was cool.  I loved Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”.  However, I’m NOT into being played by Globalists who aren’t really in the game for their love of my children.  I know the U.S. produces copious amounts of pollutants.  The biased Paris Accord did little to change that and much to cripple our industry (including the manufacture of the majority of the world’s environmental products) and consequently stripped us of our sovereignty.  I have the common sense to know plundering and poisoning the Earth is bad for me and my neighbors.  We can “clean up our act” on our own without biased global mandates.  It’s time to get our brains out of the fryer.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                   curtsavagemedia.com

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A Very Different Liberty

Me and Naomi at Statue of Liberty May 2017 JPEG

While attending National Search and Rescue School on Governor’s Island, New York in 1982, I spent many late afternoons watching the sun set behind the Statue of Liberty.  The lure of Lady Liberty was unavoidable.  During my stay at Governor’s Island, I rode the ferry from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to Liberty Island.  The visit was one of the most memorable “tourist moments” of my life.

She stood boldly in the middle of the harbor, unafraid and unthreatened, beckoning citizens and visitors from abroad alike to come and experience the freedom she proclaims.  My trip on the ferry was relaxing and the atmosphere once on her island was like that of a picnic in the park.  There were no crowds pushing or shoving.  I walked along uncrowded pathways and enjoyed a picnic with the lawn nearly to myself.  I climbed the stairs into Liberty’s crown with no interrogations or restrictions and stayed up there for what seemed like a long time taking in all the surrounding views.  I felt honored to be allowed the privilege of the experience.

I hadn’t been back to see the Statue of Liberty since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but I had been told the relaxed atmosphere was gone and for a time she was closed completely to tourists.  That made me sad to think Lady Liberty had been stripped of some of her freedom.  But, I thought “such is the cost of security” – the Statue of Liberty had to be protected should someone desire to do her harm.

We’ve studied the history of the Statue of Liberty as part of our homeschooling curriculum.  Our daughter has always been fascinated by the statue and had it on her list of places to go.  On a recent weekend trip, we were close enough for me to surprise her with a side trip to see Lady Liberty.  I was shocked by the changes I found.

We embarked from the New Jersey side.  Purchasing our tickets was easy.  However, when we entered the line for the ferry, that’s where everything changed.  We were funneled into a fenced security “corral” so to speak with about a couple of thousand other people from other cultures from all over the world.  “Personal space” vanished.  Pushing and shoving transitioned into me repeatedly elbowing the guy behind me in the solar plexus to keep him from crushing my daughter.  We were put through a “TSA style” screening before being allowed to board.  The ferry ride was the nicest part of the experience.  On Liberty Island, there were so many people it was difficult to take pictures of my daughter with the statue.  We couldn’t go into the base or up to the crown because we had not undergone additional Homeland Security screening to gain clearances allowing us to make the climb.

Getting back on the boat to return to shore was the same experience in reverse, only slightly more tolerable.  Regrettably, we needed to stop at the restrooms in the old railway ticket building on our way to the parking lot.  The sanitary conditions reminded me of the floors in an Ensenada jail.  Don’t ask.  We were glad to get in our Jeep and leave.  I understand globalism and 9/11 changed a lot of what America once was.  I guess I’ll just have to get used to a very different kind of Liberty.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

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Filters

 

SONY DSC

Sitting at the Jeep dealership waiting for them to change the oil in my Patriot, I got thinking about various kinds of filters.  The quality and type of oil filter makes a BIG difference in how well your car’s engine will run and how long it will last.  The best filters keep out the most particles of destructive dirt and metal, preventing them from entering the engine where they could damage rings and bearings.  I like changing my car’s oil and filter myself, but I just don’t have the time or place to do it anymore.

A filter I don’t like to clean is the one on our vacuum cleaner.  We used to have a vacuum with a water tank filter.  That one could just be dumped without making much of a mess.  The vacuum we currently own is a different story; it’s bagless.  It has a transparent plastic canister with a foam element inside.  You can see the dirt and dust swirling around and building up inside.  If I’m not mindful of which way the wind’s blowing when I clean this filter, I can end up wearing the contents!  What kind of sadist would design something like this?

Furnace filters can also be kind of messy to change.  The brand I buy includes a little sticker.  The idea behind the sticker is, when I remove the old, dirty filter and install the nice, clean, new one, I’m supposed to write the installation and the “change filter” dates on the sticker and stick it on the side of the furnace.  I usually do that – then I forget about it.  That’s not really a problem.  When I hear strange noises in the basement and catch that “burning dust” smell every time the heat comes on, I think to myself “I wonder if the filter needs changed?”.

Computers use filters such as antivirus software and firewalls to prevent unwanted data from finding its way onto their hard drives and to prevent stored information from being stolen.

Even people have filters; or at least we’re supposed to.  Our livers and kidneys are filters, but I have a few other filters in mind; our eyes, our ears and even our mouths.  Remember that line from the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary when Mark Darcy tells Bridget “you tend to let whatever’s in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences.”  There’s a lot of that going on these days.  The scary thing is, all that “static” is like a tidal wave of free radicals attacking our minds, our hearts, even our very souls.  If we don’t employ filtering mechanisms we can become emotionally, mentally and even physically plugged up with some destructive, and probably baseless, stuff.  Being informed is important, just like making sure an engine has enough oil, but your mental lubricant must be good oil, not snake oil.  Understanding is also important, but I don’t try to understand everything.  Doing so would be like dipping a furnace filter in wet cement and still expecting air to get through it.  The best filter I can employ these days for my eyes, ears and mouth is simply the short prayer from Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

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One Tough Mother

Everyone has hearMother Jonesd of the power of maternal instincts; a set of behaviors exhibited by mothers especially, but also by nearly all women regardless of whether they are mothers or not; behaviors including nurturing, providing care for and, most prominently, protecting others – especially children.  Some refer to it as the “Mother Bear” syndrome.  Maternal instincts are stronger in some women than in others.  Feats of superhuman strength have been attributed to women trying to save their children, or others, from peril.  This is a brief account of one such mother.

Mary Harris Jones was born in County Cork, Ireland in approximately 1837.  During the Great Famine of the 1850’s, the
Harris Family left Ireland and emigrated to Toronto, Canada.  Mary left Canada in her early twenties and moved by herself to Michigan to become a teacher.  After about a year of that, Mary moved to Chicago, and then to Memphis a year later where she met and married George Jones in 1861.  This meeting introduced Mary to the labor union movement as her new husband was a member and organizer of what would eventually become the International Molders and Foundry Workers Union of North America.

After beginning to have children, she left her teaching profession and, on the eve of the beginning of the Civil War, opened a dress shop in her home in Memphis, TN.  Mary’s good life was shattered by the 1967 Yellow Fever epidemic in Memphis during which she lost all four of her children and her husband.  After a few years, independent and indominable as usual, Mary left Memphis and returned to Chicago where she started another dress making business.  Once again, Mary was struck by tragedy when she lost her home, her shop and all her possessions in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

After this fire, Mary joined other Chicago residents in the efforts to rebuild the city.  While doing this work, Mary witnessed the mistreatment of workers and their wives and children at the hands of the owners and managers of the companies they worked for.  This motivated Mary to become a union and community organizer.  Mary was not in favor of mothers working outside of the home or of children working in the mills.  The 1900 Census showed that nearly one in five children under the age of sixteen were employed; many of them in mills.  Mary believed that the neglect of motherhood was a primary cause of juvenile delinquency, and that children belonged in school, not in mills or mines.

As a labor organizer for the United Mine Workers Union, Mary Jones was so effective at calling for strikes and organizing marches by the wives and children of those workers that she became known as “The Most Dangerous Woman in America” and the U.S. Senate once denounced her as the “Grandmother of all Agitators”.  Marry didn’t mind these labels as she acted like a mother or grandmothers toward the mine workers whom she often referred to as “her boys”.  They gave her the nick-name “Mother Jones”, and it fit her.  Mary Harris Jones is the “mother” of many of the child labor laws and mine safety reforms we have today.  Her tenacity and her commitment to protecting the rights of children and working adults will never be forgotten.  She was one tough mother!

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

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Identity Theft

Heart Lock

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports there are an average of 15 million incidences of personal identity theft per year.  The bureau divides personal identity theft into three types; unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account, unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account and misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose.  They stress the importance of keeping a close watch on your financial statements and using some sort of credit monitoring service to keep track of activity concerning you as reported by the major credit reporting companies.

The first thing people think about when they hear the words “identity theft” is the theft or “hacking” of their financial or other personal information.  But, what about the theft, or loss, of their root – their personal –  identity; who they truly are?  “How can my personal identity be stolen?” you ask?  In a myriad of ways.  All of them have much to do with your view of self.

To begin with, we must understand our original identity in order to be aware of the point where it becomes compromised.  Who are you?  How were you made, or “wired” as they say?  I hear a lot of talk about people having “gifts” or certain personalities or abilities that make them “who they are”.  Where do you think those come from?  It was intentional; with purpose, that you were created with a certain set of personality traits and intelligences.  The identity in your design was no mistake.  To allow that identity to be compromised WOULD be a mistake.

Peer pressure is the primary method by which identities are lost.  The pressure to impress someone else by trying to become just like them or like someone they admire is intense.  I believe social media amplifies the desires for validation and approval and has itself become another form of peer pressure.  When we feel like we don’t “measure up’ to those around us, we can begin to doubt our self-worth.  Self-deprecation can set in as we devalue our abilities, qualities and identity in comparison to others.

Many times, lost opportunities prevent a person from “becoming who they were meant to be”.  The phrase “Life Happens” is used to justify why that dream was never accomplished, or why a person becomes someone quite different from whom they thought they would be.  Life does indeed “happen”, but the best way to get through your load of “happen” is to draw upon your beliefs and to continue to develop your strengths and abilities; your identity.  Unfortunately, many times the pressures weighing upon us from the expectations or treatment of others, or the weight of life bearing down on us, cause us to just throw our identities away.

In any case, just like leaving our passwords visible on the internet, we are usually the ones who allow our identities to be lost.  This is not to say we need be overly self-conscious about being ourselves.  It is as simple as the unattributed quote “Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken”. Or, as Judy Garland said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”  Ms. Garland herself tragically became a victim of “Identity Theft”.  Don’t let it happen to you!

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

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