Feeling Worse — October 6, 2011

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A bubbly, joyous spirit bounced to my table last night in the form of a dear-hearted woman. Her eyes were filled with tears. She told me she had recently begun attending this church because the last church she frequented always made her feel worse when she left than when she came. 

What a powerful thought. It got me musing over the plight in our society because there is no institution, organization or philosophy that is presently in operation in our culture that is making people feel better.

Politics is determined to degrade the opposition and in so doing, deflate the voters. Corporations feel the need to create an absence before they promote their presence. Education is an ongoing warning light on the engine of progress, telling us that we’re in trouble more than offering solutions on overcoming the difficulty. And religion feels the need to denigrate before it offers a plan of salvation, and then initiating the energy towards any newness of life.

It makes people feel worse. My dear, sweet friends, I just don’t believe that we do the work of the angels by always presenting the devilish outlook. Yet all the news organizations would insist they are merely presenting the realities of our world faithfully.  Actually, what they’re offering is the braying of the loudest donkey in the barn without ever presenting the praying of the more consecrated sheep.

It reminds me of my dog, Madez. We fed him a type of dog food he really liked–but one day when I sent to the store, they offered me a 25-pound feed at an extraordinarily low price which I purchased because … well, because I’m cheap. I poured the food into his bowl and he refused to eat it. I told my family to leave him alone–he would eat it when he got hungry enough.  He didn’t.  Matter of fact, he tipped over his bowl in protest, spilling the food all over the floor. I stubbornly persisted in filling his bowl every day, leaving the discarded food around, determined that the dog needed to deal with his new circumstances.  He just kept tipping over the bowl, refusing to eat–and then began to steal food from people’s plates because he was hungry.  I, of course, yelled at him for being such a thieving beast. Then one day it occurred to me that if this dear animal friend was good enough to bring affection and joy to my life, he certainly should be good enough to be able to eat the food he desired. I went back to the old dog food … and everything was fine.

We wonder why Americans are sick in heart, soul and body. We wonder why they’re rejecting the emotional and spiritual food that’s being set before them by the media and society as a whole. We wonder why they’re beginning to protest and tipping over their bowls in the face of the insanity. It’s because human beings require a certain kind of chow–and when they don’t have it, they start stealing moments from other people’s lives.

It’s not good when you make people feel worse. I don’t care if you call it news, the gospel, the truth, philosophy, “fair and balanced” or a reality show.  My dog knew crap when he saw it and walked away from it. So do people.

Therefore, if you want to reach into the lives of your fellow human beings and make a difference, please keep three things in mind:

1. Make people proud to be human. Stop portraying everybody as potential serial killers and rapists. Most folks aren’t. Most individuals would rather cut off their arm than harm another soul. Please–make me proud.  I’m human.

2.  Help people believe that with God’s help, what they can do is enough. I can’t do more than I can do. Don’t make me feel insufficient, stupid or helpless. Show me that my talent is meaningful and that with the abilities of other people and God’s grace, we can move forward. I am tired of feeling long-suffering over my shortcomings. If you can’t believe in the power of my effort, please do me a favor and just shut up.

3. And finally, if you’re going to help mankind, speak more of mercy than of misery. Please tell me there is enough of the image of God inside me that I can imitate His grace by being merciful, instead of sitting around languishing in feelings of inadequacy, ending up in a puddle of misery.

That woman I met last night was so right. The greatest gift we have is the ability to rise from our mediocrity and demand better.  And better ALWAYS moves towards possibility instead of constantly giving that annoying, accurate report of defeat.

I don’t want to feel worse. I want to be proud to be human. I want to believe that what I do is enough and I want to hear more about mercy than I do about misery. I don’t think I am alone.

And like my dog, Madez–I’ll just keep barking until I get what I want.

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

 

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