The E Word … March 5th, 2019

THE

WORD

 

There are words that are so vile with violence and bedeviled by bigotry that they should never be written or spoken again. But there are also words, shrouded with sinister self-righteousness, which are equally poisoned.

Such is the case with our E word this week:

EXCEPTIONAL

From the Greeks feeling philosophically elevated to the Romans commanding allegiance through their powerful armies, to the Jews believing they were “the Chosen Ones,” to the touting of a Holy Roman Empire, there have always been cultures, races and faiths that have attempted to establish their dominance over fellow-humans.

I must be candid. My skin crawls whenever I hear my American brothers and sisters bolstering our national ego by referring to the United States as “exceptional.” It is the kind of blatant arrogance that made us pursue “manifest destiny,” stealing land from a native people, while simultaneously shipping in souls from Africa to become our slaves.

It is evil—not just because it is pompous and misrepresents reality, but because it works hand in hand with two other failing thoughts.

For you see, people who think they are exceptional eventually believe they are superior. And those who proclaim they are superior eventually insist they are supreme.

After World War I, the German people were devastated in morale and financially destitute. A little man came with a huge idea. He told the German people they didn’t need to be the doormat of the world. He raised the consciousness of their Germanic roots. He told them they were exceptional.

In doing so, he stirred the pride of the nation. They began to rebuild.

Once they contended that they were exceptional, the evil little fellow then told them that they were superior.

He gave them a common enemy. By the end of the 1930’s, nearly every German, in some capacity, believed that he or she was superior to a Jew.

But to go to war, the small man, who in the meantime had become their dictator, needed to convince them they were supreme—a Super Race. This became something worth dying for—at least tens of thousands of them believed so. Unfortunately, it was not a suicide mission, but also took the lives of hundreds of thousands of other people who had to break the hypnotic spell.

Yet I will tell you, preaching “exceptionalism” is not different just because it is hatched in America. The notion is already beginning to make us contend that certain individuals are superior to others, and if we’re not careful, we will start reacting as if we are supreme.

Exceptional is a word that not even God will use. The Good Book makes it clear that He is no “respecter of persons.” If God makes no distinctions among His creation, why in the hell do we think we can?

“Exceptional” is our E word—a misguided attempt to build patriotism or national pride by ignoring the beauty of commonality and the glory of “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”


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The C Word … February 19th, 2019

THE

WORD


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When I sat down to consider “the C word,” many grotesque possibilities came to mind. I will not go into the ones I rejected. They are obviously repugnant or too controversial to even give utterance.

Instead, I chose a peculiar one because it is subtle and might even seem to be positive until you carefully study the history of its drastic devastation.

So the C word—the word that should never be used again or even spoken—is CULTURE.

For eighty-five years in this nation, we fostered, promoted, advertised, argued and finally fought over a fictitious cultural difference.

Here was the contention:

Mason liked fried potatoes. Dixon preferred grits.

Yankee Doodle drank beer and brandy, while Johnny Reb preferred whiskey and moonshine.

The North favored a Union. The South touted states’ rights.

Missy, a woman living north of the line, spent time working in the fields with her husband, planting, while the Dixie chicks pretended to be more fragile, appearing dainty.

Mason didn’t have slaves. Dixon did.

But Dixon didn’t call it “slave labor.”  Working under the guise of business, these folks who were shipped in from Africa were addressed as “field hands,” for it was the commerce of the South—and King Cotton required serfs to work, and black ones seemed to be more suited for the heat and the burden.

For eighty-five years, we pretended it was a “cultural difference.”

Men we extol as the founders of our nation, ignorantly hid behind debate, hoping it would disguise the atrocity.

It came down to a simple question:

You say slave, I say worker—almost a member of my family.

You say a person and I claim property.

You interrupt my culture and I wail and squeal about states’ rights.

We thought we could compromise, tolerate, negotiate and even appease one another. There were so many compromises that we started naming them after states, like Missouri. There were so many times we thought we had it worked out on paper, negotiating a deal or producing a favorable agreement, that many people were shocked when this “culture problem” created a Civil War which killed three-quarters of a million people.

And the fires of that conflict still smolder to this day.

We thought we could handle cultural difference. We believed we could let bygones be bygones.

But a cultural crisis was brought on by the crisis of culturing.

The truth is, human beings become viable to one another when they insist on similarities and pursue commonality.

You can eat your potatoes and drink your liquor any way you want.

But free will, justice and equality cannot be negotiated.


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Sit Down Comedy … October 5th, 2018

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Good News and Better News … January 29th, 2018

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Somewhere stuck between pissed off and tuned out, I waddle and wheeze, waiting for a needful kick in the butt, which I pray will actually be a whack of love.

For I am a human being. I look a lot like a monkey, but my Daddy is the King of the Universe (paternity test yet to be performed).

While we wiggle and struggle over the language of piety, politics and purpose, most of the human race is looking for a pleasant path to eating a good meal, while trying to get along.

Everything is too damn complicated. Matter of fact, writing this essay creates the risk of heaping another helping of opinion onto the stinky pile accumulated behind the house.

Can we simplify?

As far as I know (and I could be wrong, but not just because you think so–there would have to be some merit to your objection) every one of us needs:

1. A start of heart.

If we don’t feel, we don’t have any feeling. If we have no feeling, we have no empathy, and without empathy we start treating people like dogs (or even worse, because we kind of like dogs).

2. A goal of soul.

Even if there were no God we would have to invent one in order to lift our behavior above eye-gouging and tooth extraction.

I need a soul. I need to know you have one. Otherwise, if you get in my way, you could start looking like a cockroach and I might be tempted to strap on my killin’ boots.

3. A lane for the brain.

Parents, culture, family, schooling and misgivings have built cement freeways in our cranium. Unfortunately these roads don’t always take us to a healthy place. We need a lane in the brain to keep us from being insane.

4. A wealth of health.

I’m talking about your best health. If you’re like me, you’ll probably never be as well-structured as an Olympic athlete. But you can be the best pudgy, healthy rendition of the model that’s been provided for you.

These are the four things we’re all concerned about when we aren’t bitching. Once we begin to complain, life becomes too pat. “It’s your fault because it couldn’t be my fault because I have no fault.”

As you see, this is not a very fruitful profile.

So the good news is, if we will stop trying to change the world by preaching, the better news is, we might just start finding so much commonality that we are sympathetic to one another.

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G-Poppers … November 17th, 2017

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It certainly seemed to be a concerted effort.

At the close of the twentieth century, the social malaise gelled into a common theme. Whether it was the educational system, the government, the corporate world, the entertainment industry or the religious community, for one prolonged season they converged on a universal axiom: “Everybody’s different.”

Matter of fact, you could pretty well guarantee applause in front of any audience by saying, “I’m different, you’re different, we’re all different–but it’s okay.”

G-Pop calls it “the snowflake philosophy.” You know what he means. “There are no two snowflakes exactly alike–and that’s the way people are, too.”

And it seems that nobody had the temerity to come along and say, “How do you know that no two snowflakes are alike?”

The sentiment sounded sweet, kind and cuddly, so it was embraced as a truth. Matter of fact, if anyone had come along to suggest that the human race is pretty much the same group of people, just in different locales, it would have been considered out of step, and even, to a certain degree, bigoted–in the sense that if for some reason you could not accept eight billion different cultures colliding with each other on the same landscape, then you were downright intolerant.

After about fifty years of this propaganda, the common patter has begun to bear the fruit of its contention. In other words, “since we’re all so different, how is it possible to procure common ground?” And therefore, we only feel comfortable around those who share our genetic markers, are part of our own household–and we’re mistrustful of anyone sporting “different genes.”

Where has this philosophy gotten us? Where is it going to take us?

G-Pop wants his children to understand that establishing uniqueness is not based upon genetics or proclamations, but rather, the use of our consecration and talent.

The first step is understanding that human beings are at least 95% the same–similar bodies, similar faces, and even similar attitudes.

God had the wisdom to explain our interwoven relationship with the simple statement, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

G-Pop says that perhaps we may view our sin as “special” or not nearly as nasty as the ones around us, but the ultimate Judge has clumped them all together.

It is time for sane people with quality minds to set out on a new vision.

We have much in common, we’re more alike than different, and what we refer to as culture is merely personal preference.

There are things that work with everyone in every land:

  • A smile
  • Offering a kindness
  • Working hard instead of complaining
  • Tidying up your space
  • And refraining from complaining

In every culture, these are exchanged as gold.

G-Pop believes it is time for his children, once and for all, to tear down the myth of uniqueness.

It is time to enjoy the idea of being common. 

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Ask Jonathots … January 5th, 2017

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How important is self-esteem?

Damaged people.

They are everywhere.

It would be foolish not to include ourselves.

But as important as it is to acknowledge the damage, it is even more essential to prescribe the correct repair.

Self-esteem is like going out and buying a large picture to hang over the hole in your wall. It is not a solution, but rather, a temporary fix.

Self-esteem functions under three very dangerous premises:

1. Because you were born, you matter.

2. There’s no one quite like you.

3. Therefore, you are special.

This particular “candy-bar philosophy” has no grounding in reality.

There are concepts, however, which have proven to have longevity. For instance, the Bible says:

  • All have sinned.
  • There’s none righteous.
  • Whosoever will may come.
  • God is no respecter of persons.

A completely different approach.

In self-esteem, we are encouraged to ignore our problems and deny our commonality. Unfortunately, if everybody is special, then nobody’s special. If everybody matters, then it’s difficult to get personal attention.

So what should we be trying to achieve? Self awareness.

I have some good.

I have some bad.

I have some lazy.

I have some worry.

I have some fret.

I have some genetic predispositions.

I have family.

I have responsibilities.

I have real pressure.

I have phony pressure.

I also have my present talent so I can launch my solutions.

If we cannot be self-aware about our status, we will lean on “puffy” principles, which make us appear more grounded than we actually are.

When we remove the pressure to be right and eliminate the need to be the center of attention, we can begin to understand that the Earth works when we allow place for each other.

Thus, sometimes we’re the head and on other occasions, the tail.

Ironically, self-esteem robs us of the worth we could possess by taking on simple tasks using our ability–and basking in the joy of completion.

Here is the essence of self-awareness:

We are saved by grace.

But we are distinguished by service.

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Ask Jonathots… October 20th, 2016

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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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