Salient…July 16th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3735)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

“I’m just human.”

This statement has been used to excuse murderous behavior. It also has been the opening refrain of a testimony offered in appreciation of God’s grace.

But if being human is a weakness, then what are eight billion people supposed to do with their lives? Are they to walk the Earth as emotional zombies, never able to connect with a good idea two days in a row?

Or must they give in to the dark human trinity?

  1. Complaining about circumstances
  2. Lessening expectations
  3. Lying if necessary

Is this really what God intended? Did He create an inferior race as worship slaves to His glory? Or, as the story goes, did He breathe into them the breath of life, give them His image and declare them living souls?

It’s time for us to decide:

Are we created in God’s image, tempted by evil?

Or are we born in sin, struggling to do even a little good?

I don’t think I’m alone in needing a reason to get up in the morning other than, “I’m going to go to heaven when I die.”

So let us turn to Jesus to see what he said about this situation. He summed it up in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

What did he mean by perfect?

He’s talking about a perfect human life. And a perfect human life is defined thusly:

“I will continue to try to do better until it’s unnecessary anymore for me to try.”

Even though we may be captivated by sin, we still have free will. How many victories can we chalk up before we fail? How much fun can we have learning how to improve?

  • We are human.
  • We are honored to be human.
  • We have the breath of life.
  • We are created in God’s image.
  • We are living souls, which means we do have the ability to walk between two kingdoms–Earth and Heaven.

The power we possess is in choosing. The gift we’ve been given is the breath of life. And we have a personal kinship with God.

So here is your salient moment:

Start acting more like your Father or be prepared to be a monkey’s uncle.

 

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Salient…July 9th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3721)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Strolling down any thoroughfare in 1975, it was highly unlikely that you would see a person dressed in a military uniform unless it was an aging hippie who was donning the garments to protest the whole concept of war.

Soldiering just wasn’t popular. It was not contemptuous, but it was contentious.

In other words, it created so much conflict because of the Vietnam War that people tried to avoid any discussion about army men, marines or sailors.

This continued for many years. Matter of fact, may I say that for most of you reading this, if you encountered a guidance counselor in high school, you were offered many choices on college, technical institutions and even mechanic schools. Then, at the tail end of such a conversation, you might have been given the option of military service.

A last resort.

“He is so screwed up he needs to go into the army.”

“Maybe the marines will straighten him out.”

The military was never considered a fast track to success and was often riddled with guys–and maybe even a gal or two–who “just never found themselves.”

It was a volunteer army for those who volunteered because volunteering for anything else seemed pointless.

These are hard, cold, historical facts, and have nothing to do with the sentiments of this author or even the lasting emotions of the American people. It was just felt that being grateful to a warrior seemed to be promoting the war.

Then there was a change–a needful one.

At first, it was politicians who wanted to pander to their more conservative base.

Then it was ministers in churches, welcoming the fighting men home to their families and friends.

Gradually, a phrase emerged from the lips of the American populace: “Support the troops.”

Then it evolved from this generic form, it has become: “We want to thank you for your service.”

It doesn’t make any difference if it’s President Trump, a game show host, a first grade class or Bernie Sanders–it is now universally executed. Whenever a person in uniform is standing before us, we must pipe up with, “Thank you for your service.”

We have learned to do it. Sometimes it doesn’t even sound sincere. It doesn’t matter. It is the respectful piece of etiquette, which has been inserted into our common, everyday lingo, to express a positive position.

So why can’t we do the same thing over race? Why can’t we start looking at the color of people’s skin, and honor them for surviving their struggles, battles and the ups and downs in being American citizens?

It might take a while–but perhaps we could start off by making eye contact with someone of a different race, and tenderly, through that gaze, communicate that we understand that their journey is more difficult than ours.

After all, we don’t give a nod to the troops because they’re changing light bulbs in the kitchen. That’s what we do. We give appreciation to them because they do and have done what we can’t or won’t do.

They serve. They survive. They use their intellect to protect our freedom.

Why can’t we do this with the black man?

“I want to thank your ancestors for their service to America, even though it has gone unnoticed and unheralded.”

To the Hispanic population:

“Thank you for your industrious nature, which continues to work despite all the criticism you receive.”

To the Native Americans:

“Thank you for allowing us to live on this land which was originally yours–and even though we stole it, you stopped fighting and decided to coexist with us.”

And to those from Asia:

“Thank you for coming to this country and bringing your energy, heart and family values, which we have incorporated into our own lifestyle.”

So here is your salient moment:

Support the troops. Yes, let us rally around those who are prepared to fight for our country.

But perhaps we could take the next two decades, applying the same principle we did to bring necessary respect to the armed services, to learn, once and for all, how to support the groups.

 

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Salient…July 2nd, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3721)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Bring your own joy or bring your own bitching.

It’s really that simple.

There are a chosen few who have discovered the secret to life in knowing that it is essential to show up with your own joy if you expect to have joy for lunch and dinner.

It is not provided.

The American freeway system will not roll out joy for you on your way to work. Your job is not necessarily geared to your happiness. Certainly your children and family have so many pursuits that they don’t have time to plan a special dish of “giddy” for you.

And the entertainment industry in this country…Well, let’s just say they seem to enjoy themselves.

If you don’t bring your own joy you will fall prey to succumbing to the overpowering nastiness of those who bring bitching.

Just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you some examples of those who show up bitching. Here are a handful of the statements they make:

1. “I’m not a morning person.”

2. “I didn’t sleep well (again).”

3. “I don’t talk until I’ve had my coffee…”

4. “Those drivers are crazy.”

5. “My kids are good…just presently screwed up.”

6. “What’s with Trump?”

7. “America is getting great again.”

8. “I’m not prejudiced, but…”

9. “I think I have cancer.”

10. “The world is so evil…”

11. “The polar ice caps are melting.”

12. “I love my dog more than people.”

Brace yourself.

This onslaught of negativity will come at you without remedy. There is no cure. These people have already decided that bitching IS their joy. Therefore, they are only comfortable around fellow-bitchers.

They even want you to change the term from “bitching” to “complaining.” (It just sounds a little better. And of course, we all know that life is all about how it sounds. NOT.)

So here is your salient moment:

BYOJ (Bring Your Own Joy) or BYOB (Bring Your Own Bitching)

It is a daily conflict which faces each and every one of us, and determines the quality of our souls and often reflects the healthiness of our bodies.

 

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Salient…June 25th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3714)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Shall we take a look at a fascinating window of time that occurs in all human beings, from birth to about five years of age? Each one of us is so vulnerable, so needy, so inquisitive and so desperate that we are prepared to be taught to be Earth-dwellers by our parents. Sometimes this extends all the way up to age ten.

Three very intricate systems are introduced: manners, morals and motivation.

This is the period when we develop our ethics–perhaps a work ethic or a social one, but certainly a mental gear we adopt to deal with life and with others.

Most generally this instruction is completed by age eleven, because here comes puberty. For the average parent puberty can be best defined as this: “My children have lost their hearing in favor of their genitals.”

It is difficult to provide additional instruction during this period. Sometimes after a serious error, there will be a brief season of curiosity from the adolescent, but then the trio of temptation, taunting and teasing pulls them right back into the melee of mayhem.

This lasts until about age twenty-five. (Of course, it could be twenty-two, or thirty, depending on the person. But for the sake of this brief essay, I shall characterize it as twenty-five.)

At twenty-five young folks wake up–sometimes after a hangover or after getting their first threatening letter from a bill collector for their student loans, or perhaps realizing they might be in love.

A realization strikes: “Maybe me, an individual, could become us, a family.”

So three new friends show up to invigorate manners, morals and motivation. They are concern, confidence and clever.

We, as humans, develop a legitimate concern for others while building confidence and finding clever ways to use what we have more expansively.

It is a massive transition–a needful one. Without it, many young persons never become actual adults at all, but linger around their families, particularly their parents, coming back for another schooling in morals, manners and motivation.

This concern, confidence and clever births some children, buys a house, acquires job promotions and takes us, as people, to about the age of fifty. (Once again, this could be younger or a little older.)

At fifty, having tapped the fruit of concern, confidence and clever, people want more. There is a wrinkle in the spirit of human beings which causes them to wistfully wish to make a difference and leave behind a legacy.

It is at this point that we pursue wit, words and wisdom. It carries us through to our dying breath.

Yet we certainly know individuals in their seventies who have never escaped concern, confidence and clever–or maybe never even learned morals, manners and motivation.

This is a passage. All human passages are entered only through the power of repentance.

So here is your salient moment:

Gather up all your manners, morals and motivation, and stir in your concern, confidence and cleverness. And if you have reached the age, add on your wit, words and wisdom.

Finish the job.

Of course, if you’re led of the Spirit and you’re a creature who knows how to use faith, you don’t have to wait for birthdays to dictate your future.

As the Good Book says, “today is the day of salvation.”

 

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Salient…June 18th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3707)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

I have never been quite certain what the purpose is for a disclaimer. If you’re going to disavow a claim, why make it in the first place? Yet since I have the tendency to pursue hypocrisy, I shall make the following disclaimer:

I am fully aware that the toys I am about to mention are archaic, old-fashioned and certainly not in the lexicon of anyone under the age of thirty-five. Yet attempting to substitute modern toys would remove much of the charm, and still make me irrelevant within five years.

So let me say that when Eddie came to my house for a play date, I was fully expecting him to show up with marbles.

(Marbles are little circular glass toys of all sorts of colors. You pinched them with your fingers, rolling them across the floor and striking your friend’s marble, and in so doing, you won control of his prize. It was very popular back when you were able to play outside because the dinosaurs had gone to their watering hole.)

But when Eddie arrived, he did not have his marble sack. Instead he was carrying four brand new cans of Play-Doh. For those unacquainted with Play-Doh, it is best explained as a molding clay in various colors with which you could use to form objects and declare yourself artistic.

Eddie’s parents had just purchased the Play-Doh and he was obsessed with the stuff. I was offended because he had not warned me, and I was prepared to play marbles.

We struck a bargain: he would work with his Play-Doh and I would pursue marbles. This lasted half an hour.

We were miserable.

I kept looking over at his Play-Doh and he kept peering at my marbles, each of us insisting that we were happy–while secretly aggravated because we weren’t playing with each other.

Finally I interrupted the process and suggested we take the Play-Doh, roll it into tiny circles resembling marbles and mingle the games, instituting a new format called “Play-Doh Marbles.”

It seemed ingenious, but the Play-Doh would not roll, so we tried throwing the little clay circles at the actual marbles, and it came off as stupid.

It was a play day from hell–so frustrating that we cut it short, growled at each other a bit and separated to our households of security.

Now, as I rose and listened to the news this morning, I realized that we have much the same situation in our world.

Everybody is showing up with their favorite toys. Because we insist that nothing matches, nothing is the same, nothing is culturally equivalent, we are playing side-by-side with our own rendition of fun, privately pissed off.

No one seems to have the sense to look for common toys, mutual ground or general excitement. We have become convinced that “marble people” are better than “Play-Doh people,” and because of that “Play-Dough people” should not be allowed near “marble people.” We even make up rumors about “Play-Doh people” and diminish their character. Sometimes we even say that “Play-Doh people” smell. Or is it the “marble people?”

Earth does not work unless we agree on the toys. I can think of three right away:

  1.  Kindness.
  2.  Respect
  3.  Passion

Without this trio, the Trinity look like three bums who came into town to hold a revival and nobody showed up.

It is time for your salient moment:

If you can play with your dough, you won’t mind losing your marbles.

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Salient…June 11th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3700)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Even though it is not the holiday season, I found myself thinking about the song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

If you are six years old, the title of this tune is frightening, leading your young mind to believe there’s a divorce in the making, custody battles and certainly a scandal awaiting the great Toymaker to the North.

If you happen to be older–let’s say above fourteen years of age–you don’t have quite the visceral reaction, since you have some inside information which might explain the circumstance. In other words, there might be a reason that Mommy is kissing Santa Claus that the young tyke isn’t fully aware of.

This is the advantage of knowledge, especially when it’s clothed with a great coat of common sense, and sits in a comfortable chair, with calmness.

Yet we, who are supposed to be grownups, are being carried away by all sorts of foolishness and deceptions, as if we are unaware of the possibility of different interpretations.

In politics, we’ve convinced ourselves that lying is an acceptable part of the practice, even though, in our mature minds, we are cognizant of the fact that no liar ever totally gets by with his or her fabrication.

In social interaction, we don’t seem to be able to distinguish the difference between a very poorly executed attempt at flirtation, harrasment, stalking and rape.

And in our religious realms, we deem ourselves to be the judges of humanity, when we were warned by the Judge of All not to don His auspicious robes.

To put it plainly, we are much smarter and more sophisticated than we pretend to be. Just as we know Mommy’s not really kissing Santa Claus, we likewise know that politicians can’t lie without eventually being destroyed, men and women need to learn how to interact with each other without singeing the edges with sexuality, and God needs to be worshipped instead of our fellow-human-beings defamed because they fail to measure up to chapter and verse.

We can do better.

  • We can actually take responsibility for the intelligence we’re supposed to have.
  • We can walk in the mercy we require for ourselves.
  • And we can garner the respect for one another that our own souls yearn to receive.

So for our salient moment:

Be as smart as you need to be by making sure you do not dumb down the world around you by pretending that dumb things should be heard.

 

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Salient…June 4th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3693)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

You can “go crazy” or you can “stay sane.” One requires you go and another suggests you stay.

If you intend on spending your life chasing what is popular, convinced that the numbers, profit margin and adulation is proof of its value, then you will end up constantly finding yourself splashing down into a pool of disappointment.

After all, consider the word popular–it “pops up,” and then, when it’s proven to be insufficient for human growth, it pops again, like a balloon, and goes away.

Here is a statement: virtue, love, tenderness, creativity, gentleness and honesty will never be popular.

You will never get the majority of the people to agree at any single moment to swing their weight in the direction of faith, hope and charity. These attributes are enduring.

Those who stay and follow them, when the “crazy” goes away, will find themselves positioned to be of help for friends and family who were wounded by the latest failed fad.

You might ask, what’s the difference between crazy and sane?

Crazy is any movement that suggests that the absence of mercy will achieve progress.

Sane is understanding that the greatest progress we can make is to apply mercy to every situation.

It’s all about mercy. There is no kindness without mercy. There is no love without mercy. Mercy is realizing that even if things don’t get better, we can work with what we have to find some good.

This will never be popular.

There will be more screams for revenge, vindication and violence as the years go by.

You can “go” after these causes, but you’ll end up crazy. Or you can “stay” with the power of mercy and remain sane.

So here is your salient moment:

There will be many voices in the wilderness. If you follow them you will go crazy.

There will always be an opportunity for mercy. If you embrace it, sanity will be your prize.

 

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