Three years ago there was a video of a squirrel obstacle course that a young NASA engineer, Mark Rober, created in his yard. You see, Mark had purchased bird feeders for his yard so he could enjoy the birds. He found out something that everyone who does this knows, squirrels will find feeders and they will empty them quickly, often before a single bird can eat there. So, he bought “squirrel proof” feeders hoping he could stop them.
He found out that squirrel proof feeders don’t work.
So, he took this problem into his own hands. He created a “squirrel obstacle course.” At first it was just a few obstacles that he thought would work. They didn’t. He added more. They didn’t work either. He added obstacles that would scare the squirrels, toss them into the air, and even force them to walk a tightrope. As he continued, he realized that no matter what he did, squirrels would overcome his attempts.
Suddenly, his problem with squirrels became entertaining. It became a challenge. So, he designed many obstacles and created a video about the squirrel obstacle course. It was a huge viral hit. It made him, and the squirrels somewhat famous.
There was a simpler solution. He could shoot the squirrels, poison them, etc. But he didn’t want to do that. As he said, squirrels have to eat too and it’s not their fault that they are crafty and clever. And it took him to a very entertaining and fun solution. The “squirrel-ness” of the squirrels made them smart, creative, and relentless. And interesting to observe. And, yes, they did eat.
As a young teacher, I was like Mark was at first. I taught middle school and what frustrated me the most was that no matter what I did, there were some kids who simply could not conform to the behaviors I wanted them to conform to. They couldn’t sit still, couldn’t stay quiet, etc. They weren’t bad kids, just active.
As most educational professionals at the time, I labled them “ADD” and suggested to their parents that medication might help. It would certainly would make my job easier.
What a horrible thing to suggest. I realize it now. I didn’t back then. Too young, too impressionable. Thank GOD I wasn’t able to prescribe drugs for them!
At some point in my career I realized that the active kids weren’t the problem. The problem was that I was trying to take an energetic, vibrant personality and turn it into a quiet, calm one. And, by doing so, I was ignoring all the wonderful attributes that energetic kid had.
So, I tried something different.
Like squirrels, these kids were hard wired to be active and energetic. They didn’t work well just sitting and listening. Most of them were male and most were already on medication which didn’t work and had unpleasant side effects.
I sat down with these kids ( I usually only had one or two in a class at the most) and we made a plan. The plan was this. They could get up, move around the room when they needed to. The limits were that they couldn’t distract others, they couldn’t interupt me, and they had to do his work and do it well. They agreed.
I know what you are thinking. What about the rest of your students? Didn’t they all want to do the same thing. It’s strange, but no. They were perfectly happy sitting at their desks and doing their thing. Different personalities.
I found if I could accept who they were, what they needed, and put aside my idea of what the good student was, we could find a way for them to be successful. I had to use their “squirrel-ness” in order to find their true abilities and talents. Their energy was a strength, not a disability.
Did it always work? No. There are some things you can’t accept as personality traits. There are some kids that I couldn’t connect with that maybe others could. And, there were some kids who didn’t connect with anyone.
Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t have standards or try to teach kids how to channel their energies and tendencies in a productive manner. They had to learn when they can do certain things and when they can’t. It’s a matter of them understanding themselves and how to deal with their idiosyncracies so they can be successful in everyday life.
And it takes trust and self evaluation on both parts. As a teacher I had to recognize my tendencies and weaknesses, and there were plenty. ( I still have some of those same traits!)
Now, my two main points.
There is a group in control of our country right now who call themselves inclusive, liberal and accepting of individual differences. They are anything but. Marxists want everyone to do exactly what they want all the time. In their minds, the individual is someone to be overcome and to restrain. It’s all about the “hive brain” with them. For example, if you have a different political opinion than they have, they want you silenced. If you don’t want to support or take a medical treatment they want you to take, they will ruin your life and the lives of your children. If you don’t talk like they want, act like they want, and think like they want, you are expendable.
If they had squirrels raiding their bird feeders, they would have killed them all. Well, unless the particular squirrels could be used to promote their Communist agenda. Then they would use them and kill them later.
That’s why you see the Marxists courting Blacks, White virtue signaling liberals, Hispanics, the LGBTQ crowd, etc. They will use their differences to further their cause. And then they will get rid of them.
Conservatives are different, for the most part. Conservatives believe in individual freedom as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others or hurt others.
Sadly, though, they don’t use that philosophy in the battle we are currently in.
As we go forward into what I believe is a spiritual battle, we have to understand that not all Conservatives are going to approach the battle in the same way with the same strengths. We also need to realize that each person who joins us in the battle brings something different to the fight. And, while some of the personality idiosyncrancies will drive us all crazy, we can find a way to use their “squirrel-ness” to make our cause stronger.
I’ll use myself as the first example. My strengths ( I think) are my ability to write, communicate, and work with big ideas. But, I often struggle with details and data. I am organized, but I am also stubborn about what I want to do. I do have a sense of humor, but I don’t always know how to keep it ( and my mouth) in check. I’ve learned how to work around these traits, but I warn anyone who wants me to take a data/detail role in a group.
That won’t end well.
In groups I know we have the right mix of people to make things work. We have the detail people, the organized people, the action people. We have people who bring big ideas, who share religious views, who are calm and logical and those who are firebrand emotional.
Who does that sound like?
The Founding Fathers. Yes, this honored group was a collection of various personalities who didn’t always see eye to eye, didn’t always get along, and who could have failed if they hadn’t used each one of their talents for their cause.
Washington was usually serious, but if you ever made him angry watch out. Jefferson was a great writer, but a terrible speaker. He was so shy he couldn’t talk to a young lady he was interested in for over a year. Needless to say, he was quiet a lot. John Adams was one of those people who was so exacting, so critical that he alienated people. He once called Washington “too illiterate, unread and unlearned for his status and reputation.” Ouch. Franklin, well while he was a scientist, inventor, and political genius, he was an exhibitionist. Yes, that kind. Hamilton was a guy who took matters into his own hands. And, if he didn’t like what was going on, he would work to change it, regardless of what others wanted.
Imagine if these men couldn’t accept each other enough to fight together for a new country? What if they had kicked Jefferson out of the group because he was so tongue tied in public? What if Adams’ constant critiques made the group disband?
We would have never had the country we live in.
Conservatives need to remember that as we work to bring our country back from the brink of disaster. Are we willing to abandon the fight over a difference of personalities or leadership styles? I sure hope not.
Because while we are tossing people aside, the Marxists are not stopping their fight. I like to think we can accept people for who they are, let them work with us and then, unlike Marxists, allow them to be part of our success!
Squirrels gonna squirrel. Remember that. Celebrate it. Use it. The Founding Fathers may have fought and squabbled, but they got it done.
We need to do the same thing.
Backyard Squirrel Maze 1.0- Ninja Warrior Course
By the way, aside from the ads, this video is hysterical!