The Caper Continues… September 30, 2012

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I did it again last night.

I sat down in front of a roomful of strangers and spent an hour convincing them we weren’t strange at all, just very human and common. All in all, though, my voice is very small. My lack of fame and fortune can make those who hear my witness believe in my insignificance. Because the big money, the large promotion and the overriding messaging in our society lies to the public by telling each and every one of us how absolutely unique we are.

It establishes an arrogance without the foundation of even five minutes worth of confirming proof. It makes us try to clot together in blood lines rather than for reasons to grope in the darkness for the light switch to avoid cursing our bleakness.

It tells us that we have a unique difference. Actually, all temptation is common to all men. What makes us special is how much we share in common with each other.

This propaganda flowing from the world’s view also tells us that we have unique values–but the values you revere are meaningless if you’re not bearing fruit in your life, especially showing up with a tinge of friendliness on your face.

Then there’s the concept of a unique birthright. “These people over here are better than those people over there because …” Well, often we’ve forgotten why. But God is the Maker and as the Creator, He tells us bluntly that He’s no respecter of persons and strongly suggests that we follow suit.

Then religion steps in a offers the precept that many of us have a unique salvation. The truth of the matter is, we all need to repent from time to time or we will find ourselves perishing just like the people we criticize.

Those same religious people suggest that Jesus was a unique human–but we’re told in the Bible that he was tempted in every way just like us, that he was touched by our infirmities and that he learned. Sounds pretty doggone human to me.

The scientific community energizes the theorem that there are unique species–preferred, if you will, by nature. Here’s the truth about that: whatever does not evolve will dissolve. That goes for organizations, ideas, fashions, spirituality and bio-chemical reactions.

Lots of folks believe in the doctrine of unique ability, but for everything I do well, there is a parcel of activities that I am very poor at achieving. Facts are, we all take our turn as weaker brothers. It’s what makes us feel empathy towards each other–compassion for other human beings. Without it, we start doing a bunch of speeches about “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” and wondering why the “bums on the street don’t get jobs.”

We also begin to promote the notion of a unique prosperity. “Some people just have the knack for making money.” But we forget–riches are a doorway to generosity, or else they’re a trap door to destruction. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What a powerful thought! Everyone needs to learn generosity–whether you have five dollars or five billion, it’s the same lesson. Find out what you need, and then give as much of the rest of it away as you possibly can before you depart the planet.

Of course,  one of the more popular ones is the comical presentation of the unique gender. “Men are better than women; women are better than men…” How powerful do you think we can be as a race when one half is fighting the other? That’s why the Bible says that “in the kingdom of God there is neither male nor female,” and since the kingdom of God is within us, all of those things occupy our human space and should give us a license to understand one another instead of pretending we have to travel from Venus to Mars.

And finally, there is a great patriotic shout, especially in our country, that we have a unique freedom. But it is the truth that makes you free. It’s not freedom that brings the truth. And the truth of the matter is: NoOne is better than anyone else. When you finally grasp that, your freedom allows liberty for others, granting you permission to have it yourself.

Do I think we’ll ever get over the fantasy of unique and embrace our commonality, develop a sense of humor about our journey and enjoy one another? I don’t know. But I do believe it is the only worthy pursuit for anyone who would want to repair the breach in our world instead of widening it.

So my caper will continue. I will traverse the country, sharing that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” and field these objections from my brothers and sisters, who are frightened that if they become too accepting, they will lose their power to be superior.

It is my mission. I don’t know if it will ever gain the wings to get off the ground, or whether it will just be simple, thought-provoking idea shared in a gathering of the local citizens. But I do know this–I have gained true humanity, power, intelligence, wit and spirituality by denying my uniqueness and accepting my portion in the human family.

It’s what Jesus did. He became totally and completely one of us so as to leave no doubt about the importance of common ground.

NoOne is better than anyone else.

Are you ready to sign up for the team? Or are you looking for your own unique way to be unique?

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Ohio, Oh-My-Oh… September 29, 2012

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I was born in a small village in Central Ohio.

I should know from my adequate education in the state that it is actually redundant to say “small” and “village” together. But I did it so that I could correct myself, to demonstrate the style of thinking I was introduced to, being a resident of this fine state.

For in our town, although quite tiny, we had a nudist and a family whose members were in good standing with the John Birch Society. We had Democrats and Republicans living right next to each other and rarely complaining about their neighbor’s crab grass. Ohio was an unusual state to me because on any street corner you could have had John Lennon and Yoko Ono living in one house while just down the road you might find the home of Rush Limbaugh.

So I was curious about what was going to happen when I came into Ohio with my declaration of “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

Oh-My One: At my first stop, I was surprised when a man came to my table and said, “Jonathan, aren’t men better than women? Isn’t that what the Bible says?”

In earshot was a lady who immediately stepped up and piped in. “No, my friends. It is a scientific fact that women are superior to men.”

So you can see, whatever I said next was going to displease someone. Whenever I get into that position, I think it is just best to displease everybody.

I suppose there are those who would contend that the battle between the sexes has existed since ever Adam and Eve had a quarrel over splitting an apple. But the truth of the matter is that the differences between the sexes is mostly made up to maintain a split marketing plan for the public so as to offer products for one gender and others for the opposite.

Here’s the truth–“in the Kingdom of God, there is neither male nor female.” That’s what it says in the Bible. Now, I know you can find scriptures that contradict that concept, but they all come from a place where someone was trying to appease the existing squabble instead of speaking the truth.

So let’s take a quick look at this: if the Kingdom of God is within us (also from the Bible) and in the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female, it is safe to assume that within us is a universal commonality, whether we be male or female.

Obviously, there are physical differences which create great possibilities for pleasure.  Glory be to God. But truly intelligent people are always in the pursuit of similarity instead of advocating difference.

I have worked with men and I have traveled with women, and I will tell you that the best ones have forsaken their boundaries of gender and have just become human. I have been told that women are more emotional than men, but the truth of the matter is that it’s quite the contrary. Having played sports and indulged in outdoor activities with men, they are just as emotional, if not more so, when their particular team or hunt has been benefitted through victory.

Separating ourselves into a gender battle in this country is one of the worst errors being propagated across the board. You hear it in church, you see it on television, you read it in books. Men are not better than women and women are not better than men.

If you don’t believe me, please make note of the “affirmative action program” Jesus conducted during his ministry on earth. Arriving ina completely male-dominated society, Jesus chose to thrust women and children into the forefront of his ministry. If you remove all the women from the life of Jesus, he not only loses funding, he also loses friends to be with him during his hour of torture AND anyone to recognize that he had risen from his the dead.

When the disciples wanted to get rid of the children, Jesus rebuked them and told them that children were what all humans should become if they wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven.

If you want to be Jewish or Muslim, you can continue to promote the differences between men and women. But you can’t do it if you’re a Christian. NoOne is better than anyone else–and it begins with Adam and Eve.

Oh-My Two: “Jonathan, maybe I just want to be better. It’s a free country.”

This one surprised me a little bit. Even though it appears to possess a bit of honesty, the odor that rises from this heap of misrepresentation stings your eyes and makes you pull away. I, for one, am disgusted with the notion that we are unique “because of our freedom.” Matter of fact, “freedom” may the most over-rated, overused and least understood word in all the world. Now, this is not because our forefathers didn’t explain that freedom only works when extended in equality to others, but over the years, we have decided that freedom is a torch, passed from one dominant race, party or religion to another, based upon the popularity of an idea. The truth of the matter is, no one is free to rob someone else of equality.

The Bible makes it clear that “where the spirit of God is, there is liberty”–and liberty is freedom which has graduated from high school and has taken at least a couple of courses in college. Whereas freedom merely demands “our own way,” liberty understands that when you seek to have your own preferences honored, it is only valid when you’re willing to honor the preferences of others.

As far as I know, there are only three ways to live on this planet:

  • by law, where whatever is permissible in this present hour is enforced, regulated and even prosecuted.
  • by grace, where you continue to do dumb things, and believe that you’re just so pretty and good-looking that everything should work out fine.
  • or by liberty, which means you consider your own desires and pursue them, fuilly aware that you will have to extend the same mercy and possibility to others.

When you arrive at that liberty, you find God, a heavenly Father who desired to send a messenger, His son, but was forced to stand back and accept the rejection of the ignorant masses as they put his boy to death. Now, that’s liberty.

He then turns it around and changes that vicious assassination into salvation for the hapless murderers. That’s grace.

So you can continue to insist that you have the right to be mean because someone bled and died on a beach in Normandy, but eventually, if you’re going to live in this country and abide under the true spirit of God, you will have to afford that liberty to everyone else–thus, once again, establishing that NoOne is better than anyone else.

So in Ohio I found those who thought they were unique by gender–both male and female. And they thought they were unique in their freedom and had the right to be errant and inconsiderate if they so desired. But stupidity only survives until smart has time to put on its shoes–and then stupidity is not just a mistake, it becomes the enemy of mankind.

In this country, only one generation back in our history, we contended that segregation of the races was permissible because … well, we preferred it. But whether we like it or not, every choice of freedom has to pass the test of submitting to the eternal concept of NoOne is better than anyone else.

I send my thanks to Ohio for giving me a place to lay my head until I was ready to use it. But I warn them that uniqueness born of gender or merely screamed out in freedom must honor the fact that liberty is where God builds His house.

So we’ve been to California, Alabama, Missouri, Texas and Ohio, fielding the questions from these “pitchers of culture.” Tomorrow we will sum up what we have learned on our nationwide quest–because … The Caper Continues.

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Texas Two-Step… September 28, 2012

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Everybody in America is religious.

If you don’t understand this, you will find yourself looking from the inside out or from the outside in–completely incapable of relating to your brothers and sisters in the red, white and blue. Even those who insist they are atheists or agnostics carry around the specter of religion from their upbringing, still haunting them with memories of ritual and practice.

Yet to gain true spirituality and the realization that you are fathered by God requires that you abandon most of what you revere and cling to what is real and authenticated. That’s not easy–especially when you’ve been raised in the great state of Texas.

I love Texas, but Texas is the biggest mish-mash of faith, fantasy, foolishness and fables that you will ever see compressed into one single land mass. Catholicism, Tex-Mex, Southern gospel, Bible-belt, cowboy, bigotry, enlightenment, culture–and rodeos all collide within the confines of one state, which though quite large, still seems to bulge with an over-activity in contradictions.

So you can imagine–when I arrived in Texas with my simple, little saying, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” the Lone Star folk were ready to debunk my gunk.

Two-Step One: Brother Jonathan, if no one’s better than anyone else, why does the Bible say there are ‘weaker brothers’ amongst us?”

I never quite know why holy words are misquoted, misunderstood and misrepresented, always for the purpose of establishing that one group is better than another. Honestly, the Bible does not consider the word “weaker” to be a negative. We are the ones with the jungle philosophy, insisting that sprouting any kind of lacking is detrimental.

The people of Texas believe that some individuals are unique by ability–just better because they do things better–they think better, they move better, they raise cattle better, they tap oil wells better and they play football better. Everyone else, who can’t do that or who doesn’t participate in those activities is often deemed “weaker.”

But you see, the beauty of true spirituality is that it creates a sensitivity in us towards people who have weaknesses in a particular arena, so that we have sympathy for ourselves when we also demonstrate a shortcoming.

Here’s the truth: we are all weaker brothers. All we have to do to prove that is be put in a vulnerable position, where our deficiency can be aptly demonstrated.

Let me give you an example. When I arrive at a church for a presentation, after all my years of travel and being sixty years of age, I am not able, physically, to carry in all of my equipment and tote my necessary belongings. I require assistance. Fortunately for me, I meet the most divinely inspired human beings walking the face of the earth, and they give this grace to me. I’m not sure–maybe some of them deem me very weak when they first meet me because I am not “muscling” my way into their lives. But later on, when I am able to do the things God has given me to do, demonstrating my abilities, and my strengths come to the forefront, there is a look of comprehension on their faces. They realize that just because I am weak in one area, it doesn’t mean I should be cast aside. And likewise, just because they may be weak where I am strong, I am not their superior.

Each one of us is given a weakness to make sure that we acquire fellowship. Without acknowledging the weakness, we tend to claim self-sufficiency, which obviously becomes destitute in its conclusion.

The reason the Bible tells us that there are “weaker brothers” is that we all take our turn, and if those stronger in that moment do not have an eye on their own rear-view mirrors of inadequacy, they will have a tendency to reject us instead of assist us.

Two-Step Two: “Brother Jonathan, if we don’t place ourselves in a position of ‘better’ by our deeds and excellence, how can we ever help others?”

In other words, “If I had a million dollars, I’d give half of it to the poor.”

Matter of fact, that exact thing happened to me one night after a performance. An extremely excited audience member came to my table and said, “Mr. Cring, if I had a million dollars, I’d give it to you.”

I said, “Well, I wouldn’t know what to do with a million dollars…but do you have twenty?”

He froze. He nervously giggled and walked away–as quickly as possible.

We have a nasty rendition of capitalism in this country, choosing to believe that some people have a unique prosperity. In other words, they were “born to be rich.” They have a knack for being rich–and they take great pride in giving a certain amount of their income to the less fortunate–of their acquaintance. You must understand, the “less fortunate that you know” as a wealthy person may not be less fortunate at all. Your circle of friends may not be the ones God wants you to help.

Jesus refers to the truly needy as “the least of these.” By his description, they are people who are terminally sick, running around naked because they likely are mentally ill, or in prison. It is rather doubtful that the average prosperous individual who gives a carefully selected percentage of his or her income to charity actually encounters this particular segment of society. So it doesn’t do any good to give more money to rich people when they have already decided that their form of donating is adequate to the need. Here’s the truth–any money above what is absolutely required to live and sustain oneself that ends up in the bank is a wasted opportunity to bless those who just might be a dollar short of their miracle.

This was the principle of Andrew Carnegie. He said that any wealthy man who dies with money in the bank is foolish. To have more than you need and tuck it away for a rainy day, when most rainy days are spent inside anyway, is to audaciously lack faith in your own abilities to make more and God’s promise to bless generosity.

There is no such thing as a unique prosperity.

If you have five dollars left at the end of the week and you don’t give something to someone out of your abundance, you would never give even if you had a million dollars. This is why  “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Because each one of us has to deem whatever we have to be our prosperity–and from that sum, joyfully relinquish a gift to the “least of these, my brethren.”

It doesn’t make us better. It puts us in line to be blessed by those who possess a little more than us–right above our financial heads. You see, the “trickle down” theory propagated by political pundits only works when we have accepted the axiom, “NoOne is better than anyone else.” If you believe your prosperity speaks for itself and grants you license for discretionary generosity, then you will certainly end up being tight-fisted and selfish.

So I’m sorry, Texas–we do not possess a unique ability. All of us, at one time or another, are weaker brothers and require strengthening in an hour of shortage.

And we are not unique in our prosperity because we have stumbled on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Rather, each one of us is required to give of our substance to the least of those around us, to confirm in our own minds that we are part of the human race and also a part of the human need.

I love Texas. But Texas has a tendency to reflect a silly pride that permeates our nation from time to time with a self-righteous cheer over our own excellence.

The purpose of prosperity is to give me a chance to lay up treasure in heaven, while securing for myself enough treasure on earth to keep the wolf from the door.

So I left Texas and headed off to the place of my birth–the state of Ohio. I was very curious how this native-born son would fair with his little motto in the Buckeye State.

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Missouri Misgivings… September 27, 2012

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Henry Clay was quite wrong. Folks from Missouri don’t favor compromise that much. They are a generous lot, but pretty straight-ahead thinkers and often quite convinced of the nobility of their notions.

So as I took my Six Word Tour“NoOne is better than anyone else”–across I-70, from KC to Saint Louie, I immediately had a few folks with crinkled noses, questioning the veracity of my concept.

Misgiving One: “Jonathan, Jesus was a human being but he was also better than everyone else. So what do you say about that, fella?”

I will tell you what I say about that–Christian theology is completely stalled in the paradox of trying to present the humanity of Christ while simultaneously doing nothing to tamper with the divinity unit. It is something that has come to pass in the past four or five hundred years, as the Catholics and the Protestants have done battle over doctrine instead of finding common ground in the message.

The early Christian church had no problem with this situation whatsoever. Matter of fact, the writer of the Book of Hebrews makes it clear: Jesus was completely human. He was “tempted like we are,” he “learned obedience through the things he suffered” and “he was touched by all of our infirmities.” Even the gospel writer tell us that as a boy “he grew in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man.”

We do a terrible disservice to believers when we take away the greatest gift God gave to this earth–the human life of Jesus of Nazareth–and replace it with a Christ who was always God, just wearing cool sandals. What Jesus allowed, which set him apart, was for the Spirit to be involved in his life and included in all aspects of his activities. It is why the Bible tells us that the same Spirit that dwelled in Jesus can dwell in us. When I say “NoOne is better than anyone else” I am not concluding that some folks don’t use their human lives more effectively than others. But as Jesus started out on an even playing field as a human being, so do we all. It’s up to us whether we decide to tap all our resources, or just move into one room of our human house and live there.

Misgiving Two: “Jonathan, don’t some species become extinct and others survive, which would make the surviving creatures better–right?”

It’s rather doubtful that God and nature gave function to any part of the creation just so there would be something to destroy. Dinosaurs had their chance. They just didn’t bring anything to the planet. It shortened their stay.

Everyday certain life forms go extinct. It’s because they refuse to evolve, adapt and become fruitful to the earth. It doesn’t make them better or worse. It just teaches us all a very valuable lesson–that being aware of your surroundings and the changes occurring is a very healthy outlook, and can keep you from running into walls and breaking your nose.

As Jesus said beautifully and poetically, “One sparrow does not fall without God, the Father, knowing it.” God has an investment in all His various incarnations and incantations but He does leave it to the free-will choice of even the spider–whether it will use its lifespan productively or squander it by spinning a web too near its enemy.

An extinct species is not inferior in the sight of God, only found wanting in the deliberation of nature. This holds true for all of us.

So in Missouri I found that some of the people thought there were unique humans–Jesus, for instance. I suppose they would also contend that Mozart was born to compose music, Copernicus to stare at the heavens and Guttenberg to get printing ink on his hands. It just ain’t so, Joe. We’re all born and pushed forward towards a possibility, and if we embrace it, we eventually become very good at it because God has given us the talent to be talented. So if Mozart had been born in a carpenter’s shop, we would have Mozart tables in our house instead of symphonies at the local convention hall. And if George Washington Carver had been born in the Midwest on a corn farm, we would have corn butter and jelly sandwiches instead of peanut butter. (I don’t know. It doesn’t sound that bad…)

So the people of Missouri believe there are unique humans, but they also believe there are unique species, blessed with greater capability of survival. Actually, it rains on the just and the unjust–and that goes for ants and turtles. And what creates an unjust turtle? The same thing that creates an unjust human: you spend too much time in your shell, you get replaced.

We are determined to be unique when the real uniqueness of the human creature is our commonality. And until we find that similarity in one another, we will “unique” our way into many wars, conflicts, bigotries and destruction.

From Missouri, I took a turn south–to the great state of Texas, and presented my six word phrase. What will happen in the Lone Star State?

We’ll find out tomorrow.

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Alabama Allegations… September 26, 2012

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Alabama is not my “sweet home,” but I have always enjoyed my numerous visits to the state.

It is located on about the third notch of the Bible Belt (even though with me being blubbery, I prefer an elastic waist). As is often the case in many of the communities in our southern regions, people in Alabama go to church a lot, respecting God and country with tremendous personal fervor. So when I arrived with my proclamation that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I found myself greeted with a small smile, only partially disguising a wince. My Alabamian brothers and sisters immediately offered two allegations to potentially contradict my theorem:

Allegation One: “Jonathan, isn’t the Jewish nation the chosen people? Doesn’t that make them better?”

I would like to introduce each and every one of you–and also re-acquaint myself–with the power of reading the Bible to discover a consensus. Facts are, it is easy to find a single verse in the Bible to back up almost any notion, perversion, lifestyle or inclination. But when you pursue further, you will discover that many other verses not only temper that particular assertion, but sometimes update or flat-out contradict it.

Since we are Christians and not followers of Moses, we have to go to the words of Jesus to find what he thought about this concept of the Children of Israel being “chosen.” Matter of fact, I will guarantee you on this fine morning that the main reason he hung between earth and sky, suspended by nails, was that they did not favor his opinion on their manifest destiny. He told the Jews bluntly that they took “great pride in being the children of Abraham” but that God had every capability of taking a common rock laying beside the road and turning it into a “child of Abraham.” You can imagine, considering the nationalistic pride frothing at the time, that this particular teaching was met with quite a bit of resistance.

We are also clearly informed that God is “no respecter of persons,” so even though there are those who would love to propagate the notion that Israel and the Jews are a chosen people, favored by God, and therefore they are unique by birthright, the general consensus of the Bible, which we call the Word, is that God has opened His door to include everyone equally.

So as not to get a bunch of emails from people suggesting that I am anti-Semitic, I will tell you that I believe that Israel has every right to exist, be respected and honored for her traditions. It’s just that since  the time that Jesus walked the earth, Jewish people are not preferred above Arabs or anyone else.

Allegation Two: “Jonathan, you certainly believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson, right?”

You see, this is the idea that we are unique by salvation. I can always tell when people are desperate to win an argument. They either bring up their pet dog, Hitler or Charles Manson. They mention their pet dog because they want to create sympathy; Hitler, to prove how bad people are, and Charles Manson when they want to convince you that some people are beyond hope.

So let me tell you what I told these fine folks from Alabama. Actually, thief that I am, I borrowed the sentiment from Jesus. Talking one day to a group of gossiping Galileans, he asked them if they thought that the people who had recently been killed by Pilate were worse sinners than those who didn’t die. And after all, we do the same thing. If someone survives a hurricane, we insist that “God was with them,” which, whether we like it or not, connotes that the people who perished were at least secretly somewhat dastardly.

Jesus’ response to his own question about this “worse sinner” possibility was, “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

You see, folks, it’s basically a PR situation–life comes along and the first thing you need to do is participate. It is true that there are greater benefits if you indulge in earthly activities by following the rules, but when you don’t, you get a second crack, which is called repentance. If you repent, you are blessed with a clean slate to participate again with a little bit more wisdom.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Billy Graham or Charles Manson–the same rules apply. Participate and repent. If you don’t choose to participate, don’t expect anything to happen. If you do participate, make a mistake and stubbornly refuse to repent, don’t expect to be able to participate anymore. It’s really that simple.

Many people were shocked when Charles Manson was the murderous propagator of so many slain, innocent people. I, too, was appalled, but I awaited the great miracle of repentance. It never came. So righteously, Charlie-boy doesn’t get to participate anymore.

But honestly, folks, if we found out something bad about Billy Graham tomorrow, most Christians would abandon him. I, instead, would wait for the repentance. And once my dear brother repented, I would welcome him back into the family of man, to participate.

Do I believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson? Not by creation. He gains footing on earth’s soil because he repents–and if he didn’t repent, like Mr. Manson, he would find himself perishing one miserable day at a time, in a tiny jail cell.

So participate, and if you don’t, please understand that nothing will happen. After you participate, take note of the quality of your efforts and repent where stupidity has clearly been pointed out to you. It gives you license to participate again. There is no such thing as “worse sinners.” Just terrible repenters.

So this ended my little excursion into Alabama, where people tried to establish that we are unique by birthright, or, as in the case of Billy Graham, unique by salvation. But after I had a friendly conversation with these lovely folks, I made it clear to them that God is no respecter of persons, and that the key to human life is participating and repenting.

I moved on down the road and landed in Missouri, which they refer to as the “Show Me” State. I was certainly not going to escape their scrutiny with my new-fangled phrase.

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The California Consideration… September 25, 2012

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We are all infected.

It is a disease which does not necessarily sprout symptoms before producing its deadly results–a squeezing of the brain into a smaller and smaller area of thinking, while simultaneously convincing oneself of mental expansion.

For instance, it is the general consensus that people from California are liberal–part of the “left coast”–and that it is a land filled with “fruits and nuts.” The assumption is completely incorrect–because a quick visit to the Golden State will tell you that Bakersfield is nothing like Los Angeles, and Frisco and Fresno have less in common than just a few letters.

But there is an obsession that has gripped this country in the past seventy years, which compels us to honor a national religion. That faith is not Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any of the other more established orthodoxy. It is a religion called “unique.”

When I drove my van into the state of California in 2012 with my new message, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I leaped headlong into the chasm of this rocky philosophy. Two objections were immediately raised. Of course, in California they prefered to refer to them as “considerations,” so we shall defer to their wishes.

Consideration One: “Jonathan, it’s not a case of being ‘better.’ Just ‘different.'” I have dubbed this “snowflake syndrome.” Each one of us was taught that every snowflake is different from every other, and therefore, every human being is precisely formed to the configuration of his or her own soul’s journey. Let me point out a few things:

  1. Who really knows that every snowflake is different? This is not a scientific fact. It is an assertion, since not every snowflake has been placed on the measuring table.
  2. As they fall, they all look like snow.
  3. To discover these subtle differences, one has to use a microscope. Even if we ARE drawing the parallel of snowflakes to human beings and we DO buy into the concept of complete individuality of snowflakes, human beings were never meant to be viewed under a microscope.

I do not know why we are so obsessed with being unique–thinking it makes us intrinsically more interesting. The truth is, we are fascinating because of our commonality. We are given life by a God who tells us that there is “no temptation that is not common to all men.” Yet we insist that the differences among us–which are actually quite miniscule–establish a kind of unspoken supremacy over our neighbor. Now, we wouldn’t call it supremacy. We would refer to it as preference, choice or birthright. But it is a way of separating us as humans instead of finding the more intelligent path of calling it snow instead of a bunch of flakes.

Consideration Two from California, was this: “It is true, Jonathan, that no one is innately better, but some folks have better values.” You can see, this is another tenet of the teaching of uniqueness. In other words, “I quarantine myself from the world by possessing a code of spiritual healthiness which I uniquely follow as a means of proving my difference from other people in the world around me.” We have to decide if this earth journey is about finding ways to make peace or focusing in on pieces of ourselves to make war with the friends around us.

This religion of uniqueness has become so ingrained in our society that it may be the only idea that cross-sects races, religions, politics, gender and generations. It is a certainty that if you tell a room full of people and tell them that 99% of the populace is identical to each other, you will meet resistance from those who will insist that you are intolerant, short-sighted and out of step with the times. They would fail to acknowledge that your statement, however, is basically true.

Why do we choose to focus on that one per cent that trails off onto a different path from the rest of humanity–unless it is a way to quietly express our supremacy? And supremacy is always the warpath to hurting others and breaking apart the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind.

Even though California is considered to be a liberal state, when they were presented with the notion that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” many of those alleged “left-coasters” ran to the security of the religion of uniqueness so as to maintain a secret cult of domination. So there are those who will tell you that we are unique by difference, when the true pursuit of God is to find our commonality. Certainly there are a chosen few who will proclaim their uniqueness by their values, when merely possessing a belief system is not evidence whatsoever of quality. Jesus said that it is only by the fruit of our internal faith that our values are truly known.

So as I moved out of California into other areas of the country, I suddenly realized that I was doing battle with a great fire-breathing dragon, which appears to be the acceptable, normal way of thinking in our day and age, but really is preventing us from awakening our Sleeping Beauty. And that “Beauty” would be the commonality we all share. In other words: NoOne is better than anyone else.

So now I have identified the culprit. I have found the assailant of the peacefulness that could be administered one to another, which is being stolen from us by a hidden agenda of supremacy masked as uniqueness. What will happen next?

I moved from California later on in the year, into Alabama–and this is where I ran into The Alabama Allegations.

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The NoOne Caper … September 24, 2012

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I had a dream.

It was in late October, 2011. As far as I know, I wasn’t thinking about anything particularly philosophical or even considering what I might be sharing in the coming year, 2012. But I had a vivid vision, filled with emotion, anxiety, joy and energy, about conveying a specific mission in that coming year. It was a typical dream in the sense that the images had significance in the moment and were difficult to explain later, when sleep had disappeared.

But there is one thing that came out of the experience that is as clear as a bell–it was six words. They were to become my central theme as I journeyed across the country in 2012: NoOne is better than anyone else.

Two immediate problems presented themselves.

First, Janet pointed out to me that “no one” was not a compound word, and that it should be dubbed the Seven Word Tour. I normally try not to be stubborn, but I really felt impressed from my nighttime visitation, that the theme was to be six words. So we went on the Internet, checked with grammar sources, and found what one often does when seeking an answer concerning the English language–it could be this, it could be that. Some sources said that “no one” was two separate words. Others insisted it was a normal compound word, separated because it was thought that the two o’s placed together looked rather odd. (Honestly, that’s why I like it. Two o’s look like a pair of eyeballs staring at you, checking out your reaction.) So even though I have great respect for English grammar, I decided that since I was given license, I would pursue my own path. (However, even though I validated the choice, I still occasionally have folks come up to me, thinking they are clever by pointing out that it’s really seven words. I just smile.)

The second problem was a little bit more deeply ingrained within our culture. After all, we live in a society that holds conventions in which discussions ensue on how important it is to not mistreat cows while simultaneously serving fillet mignon at the banquet. In other words, some notions have become high-sounding ideals instead of practical pursuits. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what has happened with “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We have basically decided that this principle is completely implausible, and even though we allow it to be spoken in public, everyone quietly retreats from its purity because of its difficulty and seemingly inhuman feasibility.

So I knew when I stood in front of an audience and said, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I would receive mixed reviews–at best a nod of assent followed by a quiet grunt of disapproval.

But I came to the conclusion that everything evil that has ever happened in our world was forged in the fires of supremacy. When we believe that we are to live our lives by the rules of the jungle, using domination as the settling ground for all conflict, we are admitting that possessing a larger brain and an eternal spirit is useless to us.

This is not the surrender that we should accept without a fight. Let me repeat it: everything born of darkness in the human experience begins with the notion that “i am better than you.”

  • Six million skeleton, slain, Jewish innocents were thrown into mass graves because one man was able to propel a message of the supremacy of his supposed Super Race.
  • Over three hundred denominations of churches met yesterday in America, not simply because they favor one style of worship over another, but because at some point, doctrinally, the forefathers of their faith believed they had found a more enlightened path which made them better than their brothers and sisters.
  • The Republican Party believes it is better than the Democrat Party.
  • The Democrats believe they are better–more high-minded–than the Republicans.
  • A white man, even though enlightened by his experience and journey, will still sprout nervous energy when in the presence of a black man–not quite sure how to carry on a conversation because the whole climate of his world has screamed his preeminence over his darker-skinned brother.

This pervasive philosophy not only creates an impasse, but an obstinate, disguised anger that pouts in the corner, refusing to participate in détente.

When I looked at those six words–NoOne is better than anyone else–I realized I was headed for an experience rife with blessing and froth with controversy. So if you will allow me, over the next several days I will give you the ten objections I have received to my dream message from October 2011–NoOne is better than anyone else.

These assertions tickled me but also gave me pause to find the reasoning, both spiritually and intellectually, to prop up this valuable axiom.

So tomorrow I will start with what I call The California Consideration–the two objections presented to me while I was in the Golden State. I hope you will come along. It will be great fun, and like all good things that are entertaining, will certainly have its moments of inspiration.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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