Do You Have The Courage To Watch This Movie?

October 27, 2011

I’m going to guess that 90% will claim you do, but then do nothing. Sorry, folks, but that’s who we are, and I hope by challenging you, you will prove me wrong. Let me explain:

Take a look around you. Are you happy with where our society has gone?  Does it bother you to see the amount of violence our society seems to accept as “normal?” Are you uncomfortable seeing children grow up with virtually no concept of right and wrong?  Does it trouble you that young adults seem to make up their own rules as they go along, eschewing the accepted values of society?

It should worry you.

But what should worry you even more is the realization that we are now reaping what we have sown for several generations spawned from those wonderful days of “the sexual revolution” of the 60s. Since then, we have (as a society) sub-contracted the job of raising our children (and, therefore, instilling values) to day care centers, school systems, and the government who now feels it’s their right to establish goals for sex education for our young.

Be mad. But be mad at ourselves.  As a society, all too often we have abandoned our posts as parents. We’ve passed on the one opportunity we get as parents to teach our children. And we are guilty of letting our children be subjugated by a society that has few or no values to offer. The problem we have created is threatening our society, dragging it into a cesspool of neglect and, in many cases, indifference. We have reached a point where young, single mothers with few morals see their babies as a hindrance to their dating and partying.  And all too often, it’s the children who pay a tragic price. But the problem really stems from those who father the children, then simply move on. Therein lies the focus of a movie that may be the most important film you may never have heard of.

Read the rest of this entry »


From Ground Zero Japan: A Moving Display Of Loyalty

March 17, 2011

There are some who just don’t get the bond between a man and his dog. But even I was unprepared for the level of “humanity, compassion and loyalty” within the canine community you’re about to witness below.

It’s a video that will move any animal lover to tears: Rescuers searching the remains of the debris that was once a seacoast town in the Arahama area of Japan come upon a dog that has somehow managed to survive the earthquake and the tsunami that followed. The animal is clearly in shock, disoriented and in distress.

The workers attempt to get the dog to come to them so they can take it for food, water and medical treatment. But the dog steadfastly refuses to leave with them. He turns and walks away, walking in a stagger that seems to confirm the exhaustion and confusion that has engulfed it.   

As the rescuers watch the dog walk away, they discuss his plight:

We are in Arahama area. Looks like there is a dog. There is a dog. He looks tired and dirty. He must have been caught in the tsunami. He looks very dirty.

He has a collar. He must be someone’s pet. He has a silver collar. He is shaking. He seems very afraid.

Then, they notice why the dog has walked away from them. There, some 50 feet away from them, another dog lies in the debris motionless.

             Oh, there is another dog! I wonder if he is dead.

Where?

Right there. There is another dog right next to the one sitting down. He is not moving. I wonder. I wonder if he is alright.

The dog is protecting him.

Yes. He is protecting the dog. That is why he did not want us to approach them. He was trying to keep us at bay.

I can’t watch this! This is a very difficult to watch.

Oh… Look! He is moving!  He is alive! I am so happy to see that he is alive!

Yes! Yes! He is alive!

He looks to be weakened. We need to them to be rescued soon. We really want them rescued soon.

Oh good. He’s getting up!

Let me assure you, that there IS a happy ending to this story: Both dogs have now been rescued and taken for treatment and are recovering.

In the military, soldiers take a great deal of pride in “never leaving a  brother behind…”

It would appear that’s true also in the canine world.

I hope, for some of you, watching this video will bring you one step closer to understanding that there’s no such thing as “just a dog.” They come from God, like us, equipped with a heart that is capable of loving, with the courage to defend that which he/she believes in and the compassion and loyalty to NOT leave a friend behind to die alone.

Do they have the same reasoning power of humans? That is, perhaps, open to debate. But they share the basic elements that supposedly make us “human.” They know joy. Sorrow. Happiness, Contentment, Fear, Anger. And for those of you who suffer from one form of depression or another, dogs also share that state of mind.

Watch the video and you’ll witness a prime example of canine loyalty.

Then, to put it into some perspective, think about how many other humans, dogs and other assorted pets didn’t make it through or, worse, made it through but are in a place where time will run out before they are rescued. Welcome to the real toll in terms of human and animal life.

H/T Theblaze.com

Gerry Ashley

Addendum: Having a better understanding about the loyalty of dogs and their ability to experience confusion, disorientation, loneliness, loss and depression, now think about the dogs  who sit in shelters waiting for someone to give them a new lease on life. If you are in a position to provide a home for such a loving animal, I hope this video will move you to do so. I did three years ago last month and my life is forever changed for the better because of it.

If you are not in a position to do that, however, a donation to your local humane society or no-kill shelter is always put to good use.

As for the two dogs in this video… well, I certainly believe in the power of prayer. And that doesn’t cost a dime.


Everyday Heroes: Paying Homage To 1st Responders

October 4, 2010

This past week,  Congress passed (and President Obama signed) H.R. 3978 which is also known as the “First Responder Anti-Terrorism Training Resources Act.” It is essentially, “… An act to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to accept and use gifts for otherwise authorized activities of the Center for Domestic Preparedness that are related to preparedness for a response to terrorism, and for other purposes.” Source: govtrack.us

The new law expands the ability for first responders to train under more realistic conditions so that in the event of such an attack, they are better prepared to successfully provide critical care at a time when desperately needed.

However, mention the term “First Responder” to many people and you might just be surprised at the look of confusion in their eyes. It’s not a term we use every day. And, sadly, it seems that the only time we pay much attention to first responders is when a tragedy befalls one (or more) of them. Our friend, Canadian Singer/Songwriter Dave Carroll (of United Breaks Guitars fame) has set out to change all that in a big way. More on that in a moment. But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page:

Who are “First Responders?”

They are the men and women of our local communities who put their lives on the line for each of us on a daily basis by responding to emergency (911) calls. They are Firemen, Police, EMTs and others who have promised each of us that no matter what the emergency, they will be there for us. And it’s a promise they keep every day of their (and our) lives.

Dave Carroll knows a lot about this from first-hand experience. He’s been a volunteer fireman in his home town of Waverly, Nova Scotia while building his musical career. His brother Don (who shares singing roles with Dave in the band, “Sons of Maxwell“) is a full-time fireman in that same town.

Over the past two years, I’ve written several articles about tragedies that have taken the lives of a number of these hometown heroes. Fortunately, these are not every day occurrences. However, the emergencies in our communities that expose first responders to the danger of accidents, fires, violence, disease (and now, sadly, terrorism) happen on a daily basis. While writing this article, there have been several separate occurrences of sirens screaming past my home. The first was a police car and, later another police car followed by a firetruck and ambulance. None of these first responders know what awaits them, yet they respond without hesitation when needed.

It’s important that we never allow ourselves to forget how fortunate we are that whenever someone is in peril, there are men and women who are our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters professionally trained in emergency procedures  keeping that promise to “be there” when needed.

Even though the heroes are the first responders, YOU and I play an important role as well: Whenever you’re driving, if you see an ambulance, fire truck or police car with emergency lights flashing in the rear-view mirror, pull over as soon as possible to let them pass. Someone’s life is in the balance and, most likely, seconds count.

Dave Carroll has written and recorded a new song in tribute to First Responders. Appropriately entitled, “Everyday Heroes,” it’s sponsored by Intrado Inc., in Longmart Colorado. For over 30 years, Intrado has been a pioneer in the development of enhanced 911 services used throughout the United States and, now, Canada.  While the song speaks for itself with Dave’s usual musical excellence, the story of how Intrado got involved with him is a fascinating one, best told by Dave himself.

So in another Grand Rants First, here’s Dave Carroll to introduce his tribute, “Everyday Heroes”:

And here’s the video:

Dave’s project to help spread awareness and to pay homage to First Responders is just beginning. Stay tuned for more on this as it develops throughout the US and Canada.

Gerry Ashley


Lest We Forget What’s Really Important

September 8, 2010

If it seems to you there’s been a lack of input from me lately, it’s not your imagination. Perhaps it’s been a lack of mine. The promise of Grand Rants is to discuss our world, not just politics. Unfortunately, the most important news over the past 2 years has been political in nature. And make no mistake: We intend to cover political issues as needed. Expect a lot of it from now until the mid-term elections.

But every now and then, I need to step away from the sewer of politics and just breath in the beauty of life itself. And the older I get, the more beauty I discover. Some of the most special moments can be found in the examples some people give us of their selfless devotion to causes. Sometimes it’s just a touching moment or lyric that makes me realize the beauty of a phrase or a simple act of kindness. These moments are easy to miss if we are so steeped in the argument of politics that we close our eyes to the awareness of that which sometimes surrounds us. I needed to open myself up to an awareness of these things, and so I stepped back from the body politic for a brief period in an attempt to bring something a little more uplifting and positive to the table.

I believe my efforts have paid off.

Meet Kristian Anderson, from Australia. Last October, Kristian was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Because he waited so long to be tested, he discovered it had also spread to his liver. Anderson, 35, is married and the father of 2 little boys. He’s not ready to leave his two children fatherless, so he’s stayed positive with the support of his wife Rachel. Together, they are fighting the disease.

Recently, with her birthday coming up, he wanted to make it very special… and he chose a very special way of accomplishing that goal: In addition to a surprise party, he created a video birthday card for her. Through a local radio station, he was able to get actor Hugh Jackman to make a cameo appearance and, because his wife is from New Zealand, Andeson managed to get New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to appear also.  The video has found its way to youtube and I predict it will go viral. I hope it does, because in the four minutes it takes to watch, it acts as a reminder to us all of just how important it is to get checked periodically for any unusual health issues that might benefit from early detection. And it also teaches us how important it is to stop and smell our own roses:

Kristian has kept a blog to chronicle his journey since becoming diagnosed with cancer. It’s called “Days That Matter.” I invite you to follow his journey. Something tells me that as this video goes viral, he and his family are going to have the prayers of a lot of people pulling for him.

I know he’s got mine.

Gerry Ashley


On Hiatus

July 25, 2010

Friends and readers,

We’re going to take a few weeks off–while Stoutcat just had a vacation, both Alan and Gerry definitely need some time off from the heavy political lifting. Also, we’re thinking of some fresh ideas for the blog, and discussing how (and whether!) to implement them.

Please check back on August 9 for more bloggy goodness.

Thanks!
Alan, Gerry, and Stoutcat


Miss Me Yet?

July 7, 2010

No, not that guy, me; Stoutcat!

In case you wondered where I’ve been since last week, I’ll tell you first what I haven’t been doing. I haven’t been at work; I haven’t been spending upwards of $100 a week for my public transportation; I also haven’t been spending 5 hours commuting to and from work each day. What I have been doing is spending time here:

That’s Red River Beach, in Harwich, MA on beautiful Cape Cod. Even though the East Coast is still sweltering in the clutches of a merciless heat wave, the beach has been lovely, with cooling breezes, refreshing water, and no tar! With sunscreen, a beach umbrella, comfy beach chair, some cool water, and a good Patricial Cornwell novel, I’m happy as  a clam each day.

Then there’s seafood fresh from the local fish market, the town band playing on the green, and best of all, Cape Cod League baseball games most evenings. You want to know the best thing of all? I actually live here!

I’ll be blogging sporadically over the next week or so while I enjoy summer here on Cape Cod, and then it will be back to the regular schedule.

But until then, life is good.

Stoutcat

ADDENDUM: In no way do I mean to belittle the troubles now being faced by Gulf Coast citizens when I mention the lack of tar up here. Cape Cod has had its own share of oil spills, so we understand what you are living through.


Thank You, Mom

May 9, 2010

Thank you for giving me… everything I could ever need to live a joyous life.

Stoutcat