The B. S. M. G. Report


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4225)

Overcoming the weak in my week,

I have sought what to seek

BAD

There’s nothing to be achieved by the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

This is not a statement on his innocence or guilt, but rather, the acknowledgement that such an endeavor is beyond us during this time with the unfolding calendar of the United States of America.

The country is weary–its citizens exhausted.

There is too much to discern to maintain any will to continue to reason.

In less than a year, an election proposed by our constitution, will settle the matter.

Although there are those who insist “an awful lot can happen in a year,” or that they wish to “nail the lid” on a coffin that has already been constructed, I contend that the deed is too costly for what might be guaranteed.

For you see, as a young man I purchased an old, green, Bell Telephone van. It was pukey. But the ugliest part of it was the carpet inside, which ran from steering wheel to back door.

I hated it. It was greasy, grimy, stained and filthy. Anyone who got into my van and saw the floor was surely convinced that I was a no-good slob.

One day I took it upon myself to get rid of that damn carpet.

I will tell you—it had been placed in the van with a notion to keep it there until Jesus had his welcome-back party. I cut, I pulled, I tore and I ripped. I probably got a lifetime of carpet fibers and asbestos up my nose.

After about three hours, I finally ripped up the last piece of carpet, though little portions stubbornly remained.

The underneath floor was just as putrid, requiring me to immediately get another carpet put in.

When I arrived at the back door of the carpet store, where I had been promised free c arpet from left-over jobs, the manager looked in my van and said, “Why’d you tear the old carpet out? You should have shampooed it and then put new carpet on top.”

Here are the facts:

Whether you’re a MAGA enthusiast for the President or you believe he’s the anti-Christ, he was duly elected and is part of our bizarre American history.

If you want him gone, wait for the next election.

Clean him out of Washington.

And lay down a new layer of carpet.

Because impeaching is like tearing out carpet—it’s a helluva project and will leave you with a bigger job at the end.

SAD

Sitting in my chair watching television, I teared up.

Maybe I’m an emotional fool, but sometimes I cry because I realize the great potential and am inundated with the present reality.

As I watched, person after person after show after news broadcast conveyed one message:

“You can’t trust anyone.”

Sometimes it was said sadly, sometimes communicated in anger. But in all cases, it was a definitive proclamation that trusting humans is not only foolish but dangerous.

Yet it will certainly be difficult to solve problems when the people we need to help us have become our enemies.

MAD

I don’t want to be a whiner.

I don’t want to be one of those kinds of guys who bitches about things and refuses to leave well enough alone.

And even though I have an abiding joy in watching college football, I am greatly disturbed at how it is gradually becoming America’s modern-day slave market.

57% of the college football athletes are black.

That is compared to 13% of the general population being that color.

Only 2.8% of the students on campuses are African American.

But 70% of the fan base of college football is Caucasian.

On top of that, sports announcers have begun to discuss the athletes as if they’re specimens instead of human beings.

  • “He has a huge, massive chest.”
  • “Look at his rock-hard abs.”
  • “He has thighs twice the size of a normal boy his age.”
  • “He looks like Adonis.”

At first hearing, you might think these are compliments, but actually they are observations—the same kinds of asides spoken by slave-traders as they walked among the young black men, stolen and brought over from Africa.

Granted, some of these young men may be headed for the National Football League, to make much money, unlike their unfortunate ancestors. But this does not rationalize the attitudes, terminology and carelessness with which these human beings are regarded.

Meanwhile, not many people are concerned about their education, integration into human life or even their communication skills.

It is racist.

It may be a gentle racism, or even an entertaining one—but it is racist.

Let’s not get rid of college football, but please—let us cease and desist with the plantation talk.

GLAD

There are three outstanding statements that must be honored for the human race to continue to run well.

1. All humans are created equal.

2. In the kingdom of God, there is neither male nor female.

3. Don’t judge unless you want to be judged.

Every time one, two or dare I say, all three of these, link up to form a circle of understanding, my soul rejoices.

So when “Black Lives Matters” arrived along with the “Me Too Movement,” complete with a new awakening of patriotism in this nation, I didn’t see campaigns at war with one another.

We are gradually beginning to grasp that these ideas, along with many others scattered out there, are like the yarn of understanding that must be knit together, to help us endorse our equality, our genders uniting, and the removal of prejudice.

May they create the circle of understanding that is unbroken.

Not Long Tales … October 29th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4212)

12.

Cam-Pain

The season had arrived for the thirty-first official mayoral race in the little village of Garrettsburg, Oregon, population 4,322 individualists.

Three candidates stepped forward to offer themselves for consideration. As was the custom in the community, these contestants were not identified as Republican or Democrat. They were perused for their ideas, their popularity and whether they maintained a personable profile in all their dealings.

The first was the present mayor, Derrick Collins. He was one of those gentlemen caught somewhere between the barnyard and rock and roll. His favorite wheels—a motorcycle. His favorite beverage was a beer. Home-brewed if possible.

One of the challengers was Maxwell Jones, a slender man who taught history and civics at the high school. He favored classical music, though if you pressed him, would admit some fondness for the Moody Blues. He wore wingtips, polyester pants which desperately tried to reach to his shoe tops, and oversized sweater vests in an attempt to appear hunkier.

The third comer in the race was barely worth mentioning, since she was a woman and there had never been a female mayor in Garrettsburg history. It wasn’t that the community was gender-biased—just that so far, no woman had fancied the position. Her name was Rachel Luxor, and she was of some foreign extraction—and even by Oregonian standards, a bit frumpy.

Each one of these race runners had a different approach.

Maxwell immediately went after the issues. There were four he had in mind: expanding the park, sanitation pickup twice a week, cleaner water and better fireworks on July 4th. At the last minute, he added another one to his list of four, which unfortunately for his symmetrical mind, made it five. But it was important: filling in the potholes.

His strategy was to stay on point with these points to make his point. Matter of fact, that became his slogan: “Maxwell Jones will stay on point with these points to make his point.”

On the other hand, Derrick Collins was not quite so energetic. Already occupying the job, knowing the job and the city having printed business cards with his name on them, he felt very secure in his domain. What Derrick decided to do was, anything that Maxwell brought up to achieve—well, Derrick just took it to the next City Council meeting and proposed it himself. He figured it was perfect. If the proposal passed, it would then be to his credit, and if the Council thumbed their noses at the idea, then it really wasn’t his fault. So no matter how much Maxwell railed on an issue, Derrick just took the issue, put it to a Council vote and removed any potential for Maxwell following through on a campaign promise. So it seemed that Derrick Collins would once again be voted into the Mayor Chair.

Now, the two men and one woman had made a pledge to one another. A vigorous campaign would be waged, but there would be no dirty tricks. No insults. No personal attacks. And no punches below the beltline.

Well, since Derrick cheated—at least that’s the way Maxwell saw it—the promise was negated. A poster was printed with a picture of Derrick Collins drinking a beer at the monster truck extravaganza the previous fall. Underneath it was printed, boldly, “Here’s your man—if you want a redneck.”

The folks of Garrettsburg were not what you would call sophisticated, but they certainly did not want to be considered rednecks. Once this circular circulated through the community, Derrick decided the gloves had come off. He printed his own poster, showing Maxwell reading a book. Beneath the picture was the caption, “Your socialist at work.”

Once again, none of the citizenry were raging political animals, but they were pretty sure they did not want to be socialists.

The buckets were gathered, the lines were drawn, and the mudslinging began.

Maxwell said that Derrick once called an African American a Negro.

Derrick found a book report written by Maxwell back in high school, where he referred to Darwin’s volume, The Origin of the Species, as an “evolving read.”

According to Maxwell, Derrick was sympathetic to terrorists.

According to Derrick, Maxwell just might be one.

They scoured for dirt—back and forth. At first the community watched, pretending to be horrified, while lapping up every word.

On and on it went. It got nasty.

The two men refused to be in the same room with each other, which made things difficult since they ate lunch every day at the only diner in town. Therefore, it was agreed that Derrick Collins would arrive at 11:30 and eat until 12:15, when Maxwell would come from the school and eat from 12:16 to 1:00 P.M. Of course, that one minute in between did create some problems as the two jousters occasionally bumped into each other, like two bulldogs, growling and snorting.

Yet what was particularly aggravating for both camps was the fact that polling was not determining if the attack ads were successful—mainly because the populace was holding out its opinion, wondering what the next accusation might reveal.

There was no longer any discussion about filling potholes, and the quest for cleaner water dribbled away. It was a war of words and the two men were trying to put poison into each syllable.

Election Day rolled around. A gray cloud hung over the town—and not just emotionally. Since it was Oregon, and there were often gray clouds, the rain came pouring into the village like the wrath of heaven. It curtailed voter turnout.

Matter of fact, by midday, so few people had voted that the candidates decided to drive around town banging on doors, begging people to wade to the polls and cast their choice.

The weather also interfered with the counting of the ballots, so it was the next day, around one o’clock, before the tally was totaled. It was then posted on the window of the Garrettsburg newspaper, for all to read:

Derrick Collins got 32% of the vote.

Maxwell Jones also got 32% of the vote.

A tie.

But Rachel Luxor, from her backseat position, ended up winning with 34% of the vote (two percent of the electorate voted for a combination of Beyoncé, Tom Hanks, the Rock, Kim Kardashian and Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback.)

There was a collective gasp that went through the community—well, maybe not the whole community, but certainly City Hall and the high school, where Derrick and Maxwell joined in a mutual head scratching, trying to figure out the source of their defeat.

It was perplexing.

After all, Rachel Luxor—now, Mayor Rachel—had campaigned on only one issue, with one slogan.

The issue was better school lunches. And the slogan?

“Carrots for Garretts(burg).”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 60) Debriefing…August 5th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Unable to get his head around Jo-Jay’s tales of abduction, Matthew made the decision to fly into Washington, D.C. and meet with five very confused but elated friends.

Each of them had purportedly encountered similar imprisonments, leaving them suffering from amnesia except for a very specific name, which each was intended to retain.

Matthew did not want to fly to Washington, D.C. by himself. Shortly before he received the phone call from Jo-Jay, the latest blood count numbers had come back from the doctor. They were not good. His liver was not repairing–actually getting worse.

This was probably due to the fact that Matthew was continuing to drink. When the doctor discovered that Matthew was not pursuing a tee-totaling lifestyle, he explained that it would soon be necessary to pursue a transplant–or Matthew would no longer be able to remain cynical, but rather, would be quite dead.

With that rattling around his brain, he did not want to be alone, so he asked Leonora to accompany him to Washington, D.C. She was completely unwilling–until he set up an audition for her as second oboist with the National Symphony. Even though Leonora hated not playing first–feeling that the classical masters chose the second oboe part to lose their inspiration, she still felt it was a good career move, and a good step for her in advancing her dreams. She agreed to travel along.

Yet she adamantly refused to attend the meeting with Matthew, Carlin, Jubal, Jasper, Soos and Jo-Jay, feeling she would be out of place, and that after the fiasco in the Las Vegas hotel suite, they might hold a grudge against her atheism.

Matthew assured her that they weren’t that type of people, and said she wouldn’t need to stay if she felt uncomfortable. To ensure she had autonomy, Leonora rented her own car upon arriving at the airport in Washington, D.C.

It was clear to Matthew that there were many roads of communication that needed to be opened in the days ahead if he was ever going to have this lovely woman as his partner.

The two Vegas souls arrived in time for brunch, which was beautifully set up at Jo-Jay’s house. It was light but delicious, tasty but small, and consumed in no time at all.

After a few moments of conversation, wherein all five Washingtonians exhausted all of their knowledge about oboes and double-reed instruments, Carlin spoke up.

“Matthew, we’ve asked you to come here because of a very strange set of events. Considering how this whole project has been tinged with the bizarre, isolating one thing as ‘strange’ might seem a little redundant…”

Soos broke in. “But honest to God, this one is strange. This is Twilight Zone freaky.”

Leonora furrowed her brow. Soos turned to her and said, “Do you know The Twilight Zone? You know–Rod Serling?”

Leonora neither acknowledged nor denied awareness. There was an uncomfortable moment while six people waited for one person to emote.

Jubal jumped in to fill the spot. “Well, it was. It was creepy. Let me summarize so I don’t bore anyone. All five of us…” He motioned his hand around the room.

“Yes, all five of us…Well, I guess I’ll use the word ‘abducted,’ though it wasn’t by aliens…'”

Jasper cut in, laughing. “Well, they were alien to me.”

Everybody nodded except Leonora, who was staring into her cup of tea.

Jo-Jay spoke up. “I’m not good at explaining things, but I have listened to everybody’s story, so let me summarize the details we have in common. Each of the five of us were taken against our will and flown by airplane to another location. We were given drugs which didn’t do any harm to us, but for some unusual reason, refreshed us. We were interrogated…”

Soos interrupted. “And this is where it gets different. For instance, I was interrogated by a woman in a clown suit.”

Carlin noted, “My guy was a fat Alfred Hitchcock-looking fellow wearing a ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ mask.”

“I was interviewed by a football player,” said Jubal, “with an unknown uniform–at least unknown to me–with a mask over his eyes.”

“Mine was a little kid,” injected Jasper.

“And that leaves me,” said Jo-Jay. “My interrogator was dressed as an angel. A very dark one, wearing a black hood. It was scary shit.”

A silence fell over the room which Leonora filled with a heavy sigh, shaking her head. Matthew realized he was losing the attention of the woman he loved–or at least lusted after. He thought about trying to include her, but decided it might be better to just hurry the meeting along so they could get out of there.

But before he could speed the conversation toward a conclusion, Leonora stood to her feet and said, “The food was delicious. I shall not stay for the stories. I have an audition in two hours, and I am going to go practice and prepare. I’m sure you understand.”

She turned on her heel, and without saying another word, walked out the door. Matthew wanted to follow her, afraid of the separation.

At that moment, Matthew hated all five people in the room, and counting the Father, Son and Holy Ghost–make it eight. He was extremely tired of the whole project. He was sick of being sick.

Carlin sensed his desperation. “We won’t hold you long, Matthew.”

He continued. “I was given a name. Terrence Eldridge. I have Googled him, studied and tried to get as much information as I could. Turns out he’s a fellow who has started a new movement in the black community, to escape what he considers to be the racist term, ‘African American.’ He wants to give his brothers and sisters their rightful place in this country. He wants to call them ‘Amerikin.’ From what I read, he is powerful, dynamic and completely unknown.”

Soos jumped in. “Believe it or not, the name given to me was Michael Hinston. You may not know it, but he was recently exonerated of all charges. He’s been given a clean bill of health by the Congressional investigating committee. His testimony before them was speckled with spirit and humility. He’s in a good place. For some reason, he is my mission.”

“Mine,” said Jubal, “is a guy named Milton Crenshaw, who lives in South Florida. That’s not the name I was given. I was given a word. ‘Jesonian.’ When I typed that word into Google, this fellow’s name came up–with a self-published book that seemed to have gone nowhere. So I assume I’m supposed to go talk to him and find out what he’s trying to communicate with his new word.”

Jasper laughed. “Well, of course, I was given the name of a comedian. Mickey Kohlberg. He’s a Jewish fellow who has taken it upon himself to take all the material of Jesus of Nazareth and rework it into a standup comedy routine, which he has entitled ‘Dying Laughing.’ So I’m off to see what he’s all about.”

Jo-Jay looked around the room. “Well, I guess that leaves me. I was given the word careless.’ Of course, dumb girl that I am, I thought it was the normal word, “careless,” but then I discovered there’s this consultant to the rich–a young man in his early thirties named Careless. His goal is to teach these very wealthy people how to redeem their sense of worth through giving–intelligently. I’m set up to meet with him next week.”

Matthew sat for a moment. Carlin started to speak, but Matthew interrupted.

“No, I don’t need to hear any more from you guys. You do understand, this just sounds like a crock of shit. The smartest thing I could do is run out the front door of Jo-Jay’s home and throw a hand grenade behind me and save the world a lot of trouble.”

“Now, I’m not much of a church boy, but I do remember that when the Apostle Paul was talking to a king one day, the monarch got done hearing him and said to the Apostle, ‘Too much learning has made you crazy.’ Do you see my point? You guys have gotten so involved–so convinced that you’re going to change the world–that you’ve just let your minds go nuts.”

Jo-Jay stood up indignantly. “You know me better than that, Matthew. You once called me the most level-headed person you had ever met. Not woman. Person. Sometimes, though, all the answers don’t fit into a bottle of booze.”

Carlin also stood to his feet and pulled Jo-Jay toward him. “That’s enough. We’re not here to hurt our friend…”

Matthew shook his head. “You’re not my friends. I could use some friends. Did you all even know that I have liver disease? Did you know that I need a transplant? That’s what they told me right before I came here. And if you did know, how much would you let that interrupt your lives as you try to save the world for Jesus?”

“Did you see that woman who left? I love that woman. At least I think so. If she weren’t so goddamn obnoxious, I’d tell her. But the way she is right now, she’d just use it against me. You guys don’t have an answer. She hates your guts.”

He shook his head. “I know what she’s going to do. She’s gonna ask me to make a choice. Am I going to be with her, or continue to be in this ridiculous adventure?”

“And what would you say?” Soos asked meekly.

Jubal countered. “Hush, Soos. That’s none of our business.”

Matthew stood and walked toward the door. He stopped short. “Jubal, you said a mouthful. It’s not your business. Not because I don’t care. Not because I don’t love you guys. But right now I need someone to love me more than they love Jesus. Do you fucking get that?”

Carlin nodded and said, “We do.”

“We do what?” asked Matthew.

Carlin smiled. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

Matthew craned his neck from side to side, relieving tension. “Listen,” he concluded. “I’m sorry. I’m not myself. It sounds like a great punch-line, but keep in mind–my liver is dying. And I’ve got a conversation waiting for me with a very angry, talented, intelligent, sexy woman. And I’m outgunned. I would ask you to pray for me if I believed those words would go any higher than the ceiling. So let me leave it like this–I’m gonna live through the next twenty-four hours. I’ll let you know how much damage was done.”

He turned, opened the door and was gone.

Five startled, loving, confused, bewildered, exasperated, terrified and worried people peered at one another, anxiously.

 

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G-Poppers … June 1st, 2018

G-Pop wants his children to know that 155 years is just too long.

This is the amount of time that has passed since Abraham Lincoln offered the Executive Order of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves.

But the slaves aren’t free.

With the mixture of lingering bigotry, cultural confusion, social fears and entitlement entanglements, the American black man or woman will never be free–until we stop the foolishness of color-coding our choices.

Of course, the most ridiculous notion is the recent declaration that these individuals are “African American.”

It is insulting. They have lived here longer than many white people and this is their country–not the unfortunate prison which they’ve never been able to escape.

If we had made the same progress in the medical field over 155 years, we would still be amputating limbs because a bone is broken.

In the transportation system, the Wright Brothers might have recently discovered the possibility of flight.

In the business world we would still be clinging to twelve-hour days, with no restriction on child labor laws and women relegated to nothing more than secretarial duties.

I don’t know–if you parallel the educational system to the progress we’ve made on racial relations, we might have evolved to the four-room schoolhouse.

It is no longer a mar on the American image–it has become our image.

Our musicians and artists rallied against South Africa and boycotted the country to get rid of Apartheid. I wonder what would happen if they refused to work cities in America due to the mistreatment of people of color?

Three things must happen:

1. We must disband the different approaches to culture, and really take up the banner of being a melting-pot–a single culture called America.

2. The black community should be given the question of the doubt in its conflict with the police department. We’ve done this with women who accuse men of sexual harassment–the men are basically considered guilty because of the accusation. Why is this not true with the police? If police are here to protect and serve, and someone does not feel protected and served, then they must place the onus of responsibility on their officers.

3. We need to get rid of anything that is spoken before the word “American.” African, Irish, European, Mexican, Hispanic, Asian, Indian–whatever the prefix. It does not extol these individuals–it targets them.

155 years is too long to solve a problem that should have been rooted out through the educational system within two generations.

We have just decided not to do it.

It is time to change this pernicious piece of history, and in so doing, show the rest of the world that we are a “shining city on a hill,” and we are prepared to lead the way in human rights, including the equality of race.

 

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Ask Jonathots… October 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The Presidential election has raised my awareness about gender bias in America. What can I do as a woman to raise the level of respect for women?

Stop trying to raise the level of respect and equality for women. That’s a good start.

As long as you are talking about yourself as a woman, men have been trained to act overly sensitive, or worse, condescending.

The struggle is–and always will be–for human rights.

It was Jesus who used the inclusive word “neighbor” instead of focusing on a pronoun such as “he” or “she” when proclaiming who we should love.

If you treat yourself like a special case, people will never include you as part of the general population. This is why terms like “African American” do not increase fairness for the black race, but instead, qualify them as visitors to the country instead of primally intricate.

Anything you put before the word “human” is useless and ends up relegating you to a status of something different. When we stop talking about difference, we will finally get down to having an Earth-saving conversation about commonality.

You will astound the men and women around you when you start referring to yourself as a human being, a person or a fellow-traveler instead of a gender-bound individual whose feelings have to be isolated and studied for understanding.

For instance:

If a man who thinks he is being extremely equitable says to you, “What is a woman’s thinking on this?” you should respond, “I don’t know, but as a human being, my thinking is…”

If someone asks, “What’s it like being a woman?” you should respond, “It’s very human, just like being a man–except we’re able to birth duplicates.”

Keeping a sense of humor, along with an awareness of our similarities, is the path to equity.

To do this you will have to shed some of the fantasies, silliness and cultural trap doors that have been created by our society to make sure that men stay in their boxes and women remain in their dollhouses.

You can do this. It’s a simple formula:

  • Reinvent the language, you change your attitude.
  • Change your attitude, you revise your approach.
  • Revise your approach, you begin to be perceived differently.

 

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G-Poppers … June 12th, 2015

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The cereal aisle at the local grocery store.

G-Pop found himself perusing at least 100 boxes of the stuff, each one promising delicious diversity. So he decided to glance at a dozen of the packages, reading the labels to see what was so special about each one.

It was an amazing test.

After careful inspection, it became clear that the only difference among the various brands was that some were sweeter and some had more fiber.

That was it.

Even though, with all the colors, designs and advertising, he was led to believe that each one of the treats was birthed in a factory to be its own entity, they were all basically the same, with minor exceptions in flavor and color. How amazing.

Likewise, even though we tout ourselves a tolerant society, G-Pop would assert that we’ve allowed a sophisticated prejudice to enter our thinking by believing that there are actually African-Americans, Asian-Americans, women, men, Hispanics, LGBT and even religious differentiation.

We just keep shrinking groups down smaller and smaller, insisting that the subtle attributes that might make one group unique are actually insurmountable barriers.

It’s insane.

Just as the boxes of cereal are only set apart by their packaging, not by their cereal, we as human beings have much in common.

  • Some of us are a little sweeter.
  • And maybe some of us have a little more fiber in our disposition.

What will it take? How can we get a whole generation of younger folks to stop this insanity of purposeful division, and instead, remove titles and insert appreciation?

After all, even the distinction of “American” causes us to pursue the notion of exceptionalism instead of joining forces with the other souls on this small planet, to create harmony.

Cereal is cereal.

You can box it up differently, but once you open it and pour it out in a bowl, it looks like a dozen more equally delicious options.

The same is true with people.

G-Pop left the grocery store still deep in thought. He realized he needed to talk to his grandson about this.

Even though the boy is very young, it is never too early to set an intelligent young fellow on a mission for unity.

 

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Are egg whites racist? … August 9, 2012

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Usually late afternoon.

Yes, on days when Jan and I don’t have a gig, we will slip out to the swimming pool and do a small workout to justify our calorie intake and tease ourselves with the possibility that we are remaining in fairly good shape. We followed that pattern yesterday.

Arriving at the pool, there were five young kids and two mothers occupying the space. They happened to be black. We happen to be white. (Actually, as you know, that’s quite incorrect. They actually look more cocoa-mocha-latte, and we, more a peachy-pink cotton candy. But needless to say, there was a color differentiation.)

The children, who had been playing, when they saw us coming, stopped in mid-scream. Now, I don’t know if that was because we were a different shade, a little older, or because I am a big, fat man. (I always like to have a variety of reasons available for rejection.) Nevertheless, there was a moment of silence honoring our arrival.

Jan and I quickly got into the pool, tried to speak to the little ones, but they would not respond, and we started splashing around. I immediately noticed that one of the mothers was walking up and down the shallow end of the pool, peering into the water. So I decided to ask her.

“Are you looking for something?”

She was a bit surprised at my inquiry. She paused, thought it over, and replied, “Yes, I lost one of my earrings in the pool and I’m trying to find it.”

Well, I looked over at the shallow end and there were twelve little feet attached to six little bodies, which were going to make it difficult to conduct an adequate search.

“Let us help you,” I said. Again, she was surprised.

So Jan and I began to swim in the shallow end, feeling along the bottom for a tiny earring. About ten minutes passed, and the mother gave a sigh and walked away, believing that the quest was futile. But Jan had a moment of brilliance and swam up toward the steps which exit the pool, and there, sitting on one of them, was the earring.

The lady’s friend called to the mother, who came over, and earring and mother were reunited. She was grateful. The children noticed she was grateful, so they began to speak to us. It ended up being a wonderful afternoon swim.

I share this story with you because we live in a generation that offers three explanations for the present climate of interaction between the races.

The first group consists of those who are in denial. They will tell you there is no racial problem in this country, insisting that they are colorblind and would not treat anyone any differently, no matter what the circumstance. They will say they just wish people would calm down and live their lives and do not understand what all the fuss is about.

The second group takes an intellectual approach to the issue. They will proffer that all we need is more education–a way to change the language. They contend that what we say about the races and how we address one another–what words are included and what words are rejected–are the key to discovering harmony. This is a very popular opinion. This group believes that merely by changing the language, we can heal the wounds.

And then there’s the third group (which may just include me). I disagree with the first group. There is racial tension in this country, because we have all been brought up around the idea that “difference is dangerous,” and therefore, suspicion of some sort or another is warranted to protect ourselves from looming disaster. Everyone on earth at this particular time sees color unless they happen to be under five years of age and their parents have not yanked them away from a playground situation where they got too near someone of differing ethnicity.

The second group amuses me because changing the language develops a politeness without the heart for understanding. So if I decide not to use the “n” word and they decide not to call me “cracker,” is this going to be merely in my presence? Or will the language still be forbidden during private times? And in the process of changing the language (which has been done many times in my lifespan, by the way) when do we choose to believe that “negro” should become “black” and “black” transform to “African American” and “African American” should be avoided because it’s segregationist? And what WOULD be the new term of the week? Changing the language is worse than merely being cosmetic. It’s like having the pimples and pretending like they’re pretty.

The real answer is to change the fear–and the only reason we fear anything in our lives is because we haven’t experienced it. The race issue will never be resolved in this country until we do something together.

It’s the truth. You never develop a relationship with folks until you do something with them. You can talk, send emails, write letters, exchange books, sit through a movie or watch similar television shows, and the end result will still be nervous energy and careful selection of words. You have to do something together. It doesn’t matter what it is.

At one time they thought blacks and whites couldn’t serve in the military together, and then they threw them in a foxhole and discovered that fellowship was quickly established. Because “Young Black Joe” and “Red-Neck Bobby” were being shot at by a common enemy, they quickly became fast friends. It used to be forbidden for the races to date or marry, but actually, marriage between human beings of every color may be the most helpful step towards racial harmony.

The reason that religion is a holdout on assisting the world in becoming harmonious over this issue is that the church itself is segregated–and if you’re not worshipping together, you begin to believe that you have a different God.

If in the process of one week, you do not interact, work, fellowship, laugh, talk, argue, discuss, or travel around with a person of a different race, you will still find yourself to be a reluctant racist. You won’t be proud of it–you will certainly deny it. But the only way to get rid of racism is to change fear. And the only way to change fear is to do something together.

My cocoa-mocha-latte friends yesterday were terribly frightened of their peachy-pink cotton-candy human invaders. I will tell you, we could have occupied the same pool and it would not have changed. But when we had a common mission of finding an earring, all the boundaries were brought down and suddenly it was okay to smile at each other, and in no time at all, our skin color didn’t matter.

It would help if the church would work on alleviating segregation from Sunday morning. It would certainly help if would stop talking about changing the language and would begin to address changing the fear, and it is certainly mandatory for all of us to stop acting pious on the issue, pretending that we have escaped all prejudice.

Yesterday, those little kids saw a big, fat white man and a white woman coming to the pool. They couldn’t help themselves. I saw a pool occupied by children who were black. I couldn’t help myself. But what we did was to find something we could do together, and in the process, color faded.

Make up your mind. Otherwise, you’re going to spend all of your time wondering whether offering egg whites to your guests of color could be misconstrued as a reference to the Ku Klux Klan.

If you want to restore normalcy, go out and do some normal things with people who are different from you, and establish normalcy with them. Otherwise, go into denial, try to change the language and end up with an undercurrent of racism that will eventually drag us into the deep and drown us all.

 

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