Please Help More Children Like Shannon....Change the World and Heal

We all live in our box of stories of who we think we are. Our stories of how we see the world and our stories of who we are rarely change. One bight crisp Fall day on a Friday in New Hampshire, Shannon showed up at Salem many years ago when Louise and I ran Salem, the group home for abandoned and abused children, I've mentioned often. She was a cute, 10 year old. Pigtails. Freckles. She seemed harmless and lovable. It was an emergency placement and the social worker didn't know anything about Shannon, but would get us more info the following Monday. That night, Louise and I heard screams and wails of terror coming from one of the children's houses and we rushed over. Nancy, one of our house parents, later, explained to us that everything was fine until that night. Nancy told Shannon to get her pajamas on and to get ready to be tucked in. As Nancy hand reached over and barely touched Shannon's back for a light back rub and to reassure her that everything will be ok, Shannon flew off the bed screaming, fighting, scratching and clawing at Nancy. Nancy's training kicked in and she immediately wrapped herself around Shannon restraining her from doing any more damage to Nancy or herself while Nancy gently talked Shannon down saying, "your safe, we're not going to hurt you." In the process of being held down, Shannon's nightshirt was hiked up and what was exposed to Nancy was a little 10 year old back full of fresh and old cigarette burns. What we discovered that night, was that Shannon was the little girl who lived with the stories that said, "I'm the little girl who is so bad you can only control me by putting cigarettes out on me." It was validated to her over and over by the adults in her life. Our work over the next several years was to change Shannon's stories. We had to say to her, you know that box you think you live in and you think it's all true? I'm the bad one. I'm the difficult one. I'm the one that's so bad you can only control me with violence. We had to say, "That's not you." We had to change her stories, over the years, to include. I'm the bright one. I'm the lovable one, and you can change the world you I want to. We all live in our own boxes of stories. They are the ceiling that we don't pass through, the floor we walk on and the walls we all stay within. Most of us feel safe and don't ever leave our boxes much. I'm the conservative. I'm the Democrat. I'm the republican. I'm the tea partier. I'm the liberal. Quite a few people often ask me why do you bother to debate people you don't agree with. Why do you give air time to conservatives and Republicans? It's because I work hard not to stay in my box of stories and I don't like letting others being comfortable in their story boxes either. I do you a disservice by not only challenging your stories, the stories of my guest but also mine daily as well. Are you the one who always gets angry? Are you then one who doesn't want to get involved...doesn't have time to vote or to call you congress person? What's are your stories like? Oh..I can't do that...maybe you can. Oh...that's too much to hope for...maybe it's not. Oh..I could never tell the conservative father-in-law I disagree...maybe you can. Speaking of stories - Salem in now lives the stories of a cash flow problem because States are refusing to pay for kids in care caused by the Republican Great Recession. I know these are tough times - but if you can spare $5, $25, $100 or $1000 please help. A very generous donor has offered to match the amount we raise in one day so please help if you can. We have a little girl that's 10 at Salem right now who can't go home. Her box of stories is different from Shannon but she has a tough time right now and we'd like the opportunity to help her grow up with stories that say, you're important to us, you're lovable and you can change the world if you want too. Contact Salem at to donate online or get the address for a check.

NE Salem Children's Village
PO Box 600
Rumney, NH 03226
tel: 603-786-9427
fax: 603-786-2221


dwalker81's picture
dwalker81 12 years 35 weeks ago

Dear Mr. Hartmann,

Upon hearing this, I went to the chat to congratulate you, and also posted something on your facebook page thanking you for this story. I have played my podcast of the beginning of hour three about 4 times, and I cannot stop thinking about how real this is. Frankly, I can't believe you are not getting more positive feed back on this. I guess that is why I keep posting.

As everyone else, I told myself many stories growing up. By no means was my story a struggle as much as Shannon, but being the troublemaker in school with ADD, my stories were destructive to my own growth as well. It's funny. A little while after your books and theories started appearing concerning ADD - I was diagnosed myself. As kids often were, I was the guinea pig for prescriptions, saw many doctors, and the doctor who made the most progress brought your theories to my attention. It made sense. It made the feeling of being inferior, crazy, and broken recede. I never knew it was you at the time. That was until I stumbled on your show, your political books, searched for more, and realized it was you upon reading book descriptions on Amazon.

I can't articulate how wild that felt. "This is the same guy? Wow..."

Anyway, I just wanted to write (again) and let you know how much this story, this speech, this peptalk struck a chord. I wish you would do it more often. I think we all need it.


David Walker

j.sea's picture
j.sea 12 years 35 weeks ago

I also want to say how extremely useful and articulate your story box explanation is. I think this analogy can help all of us, on all functioning levels --- Even Obama. He may have a story box that the decency in humans will always win out. I share that story, also. But I am not deceived by the lethality of true predator The media attack machine that is coming at us, directed by the Shadow Government, is the ultimate predator. While we help the least and the most traumatized among us, we must also awaken to the urgency of the need to preserve a culture in which compassion and nurturing are valued. The paradigm of the right of the conqueror to consume the worth of the whole vs. the responsibility of rulers to preserve and protect the community is at heart. Round Table anyone? God Bless the staff and support teams of Salem Children's Village.

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