Mush-mellow … February 2, 2012

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It startled me.  Yesterday someone suggested that I was becoming more “mellow.”
 
God forbid. Mellow is like grits without gravy, mush without maple syrup and an apple you purchase on Tuesday afternoon, knowing you’d better eat it quickly because by morning it’ll be rotten. No, I don’t really like mellow.
 
Neither would I want to be considered confrontational. Confrontational is the equivalent of someone who orders their Mexican food with extra hot sauce and then, to prove the point, squeezes the juice of three jalapenos over the top.
 
What I would like to do is matter enough that what I am impacts the world around me. That’s tricky. Candidly, most people do not like to be taught. We just don’t. That’s why within months of leaving school, our brains immediately begin to download knowledge from our minds like it’s on a sinking ship. It’s the whole teacher-student relationship that really troubles us. Because even when we’re little toddlers–two or three years old–and someone is trying to explain how to tie our shoes, we become impatient, saying, “I know. I know. I know.” Of course, we DON’T know, but that doesn’t make taking further instruction any easier.
 
We just reach a point where we think we should know things–and to be further taught on the subject is not only annoying, but somewhat emotionally debilitating. Yet change is needed. So how can you create the necessary renewal, revival or even renaissance in our society without becoming the schoolmarm, trying to take everybody back to the classroom to rehash old subjects? Well, let me first list the things people will NOT tolerate. I gave you one already.
 
1. Being taught. I know some of you will insist that you ARE teachable, and I appreciate the idea that in some areas you may be, but we all possess a bit of “know it all” that prevents us from acquiring all the information that would benefit our lives. Part of that is because:
2. No one wants to feel inferior. That’s really not a bad thing. In some ways, feeling inferior is much more dangerous than feeling superior. Sensations of being better than other people are usually quickly alleviated in the general commerce of humanity. But inferiority can hide out as shyness, being introverted or just having a bad day. So sometimes it’s difficult for people to receive new information without feeling they’re inferior in the process.
3. And the third obstacle to enriching the lives of human beings on this planet is family. Most people will find that when truth is unveiled, parts of it will be contrary to things that were taught by their families. They are immediately put in a Catch-22. We all want to grow but we don’t want to abandon our traditions. Jesus phrased it well. He said “if you let people taste new wine, they will quickly turn to you and say the old wine is better.” It’s not. We’re just terribly frightened of stepping on the graves of our ancestors on our way to building new roads to the future.
 
So you have those three things in the way of trying to create good change. I used to believe that God had called me to change people’s minds. I got over that pretty quickly. People do not change their minds because you ask, suggest or even because it’s the right thing to do. Worse yet, you have what we might call the twenty-four-hour change–where folks will adopt a new idea, but be much more critical about its value than they are towards their old opinions, so at the first sign of difficulty, they will abandon the fresh concept as unworkable.
 
So it’s not so much that I’ve gotten mellow. It’s just that I think I’ve discovered the best approach to being a contributor to humanity without coming across as “boss man.” And here it is: I will change my own mind thoroughly and then go ahead and do it.  And I will do it well enough to make you jealous.
 
That’s right. Human beings change because they’re jealous of what other people have. Now, you can reject that assertion because it doesn’t sound pretty or nice, but nonetheless, I think you will find that if you follow it through, it’s true. If you want everybody to wear red socks, the best thing to do is convince yourself that red socks are important and start wearing them all the time with a confident heart. Pretty soon you will notice there are other folks around you buying red socks. They will be quick to let you know that it had nothing to do with YOU wearing red socks; no, it was a personal choice they made because they suddenly remembered that their favorite color was red.
 
It doesn’t matter. You can’t matter in life if folks aren’t jealous of you, and of course, if they are jealous of you, there is a chance they can become your enemies. This is why Jesus was so insistent on us loving our enemies. Because just in the process of changing your own mind, doing something and deciding to perform it well, you will make tons of friends–but also some enemies. They are not your enemies because you are wicked, evil or hard to get along with. They are just jealous and have decided to channel their jealousy into impatience instead of impersonation. It’s the risk you take.
 
If you try to blend in with everybody around you, they will spend one hour appreciating your presence and then you will disappear into the background. If you come in and try to take over and tell people they’re wrong, they will righteously resist you because you are robbing them of their free will. But if you focus on yourself, change your own mind, do what you know you’re supposed to do and do it well, the end result will be the energy that really does generate revolution.
 
Jealousy.
 
For instance, the Soviet Union did not fall because we threatened them with missiles from every corner of the world. They just threatened us back with the same number. The Soviet Union fell because they ran out of bread, were jealous because of our many brands, and because, for the life of them, they couldn’t hatch a rock band as good as the Beatles. They were jealous.
 
If we would just take the time to focus on what our minds should be and what duties will come out of that thinking, and then practice that to the point of excellence, we will produce a jealousy which will promote duplication–or give us a handful of enemies to love. Either way, the world is quivering in the presence of our footsteps and journey.
 
It’s not so much about being mellow as it is about being smart. Don’t chase a dog that’s running away from you. Be careful buying tomatoes if the room smells too much like tomatoes. They’re on their way out the door. Feel a little uneasy if your used car salesman is smiling during the signing of the papers. And don’t ever believe that you have the convincing power to change anyone’s mind. People change when they are jealous of what you have.
 
Now that can make you mellow. And if that’s what they mean by mellow, bring it on. But that particular style of mellow does create some adversaries.
 
And as long as we understand that not everybody is going to love us, it makes it a lot easier for us to love everybody.
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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