Ask Jonathots … February 25th, 2016

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My parents and I got into a fierce argument in which they claimed that the Baby Boomers were the best generation–the most politically aware, socially progressive, and creative. I said they were sell-outs who only protested because they didn’t want to get drafted. What do you think?

And on the other hand, the Baby Boomers were greatly pissed off that their parents believed that winning World War II made them a superior generation.

I think there’s only one criterion for determining the quality of any group of people.

How well did they avoid distractions?

Distraction is what causes us to believe that the temporary situation will become permanent.

Saying that, I will tell you that technology and pseudo-intellectualism has distracted us more and more into believing that we are smart and non-prejudiced.

There has never been a greater amount of bigotry, racism, clamoring for war and intolerance than there is today. Yet the Baby Boomers had an opportunity to free our culture of much of this foolishness, but instead, mimicked their parents’ materialism just as soon as the threat of blood and mayhem in Vietnam had passed.

So the question is, can our generation–the new generation–avoid distraction?

Can we refuse to allow Facebook to be the well of our understanding?

Can we rightly judge within ourselves what still remains of selfishness and superiority?

Because if we can’t, the distractions will take this generation and cause it to sell out just as much as the Baby Boomers and the WWII heroes.

So how do we avoid distraction? Everything in our lives needs to be run through the prism of two ideas. If it is run through this prism and comes out with flying colors, then it is worthy of our consideration. If not, it’s a distraction.

  1. Does this new thing, new idea or new approach cause us to love people more?
  2. Does this possibility make us want to do better with our lives?

If the answer to these two questions is yes, then it is not a distraction. It is a pathway to progress.

If the answer ends up being no, then it is a dangerous detour which will only take us further away from understanding and peaceful coexistence.

  • The WWII generation thought owning a house and having a family was the most powerful thing in the world.
  • The Baby Boomers were convinced that a blending of social consciousness and financial prosperity was the key.

Today’s question is this:

Can we find our hearts, to touch our own souls, to renew our minds to grant us legitimate strength?

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Untotaled: Stepping 30 (November 12th, 1966) Candy Crash … September 6, 2014

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A mumbling conversation.

An attempt to disguise the nasty details of a tragedy from the fragile adolescent.

That would be me–the teen who is to be seen but never understood.

I listened carefully.

Whispers.

Aunt Janice. Uncle Randy. My cousin Jeremy. And my cousin Candy.

My ears perk when I hear “Candy.”

I love Candy. I mean, I love her because she notices me. She believes I’m alive. Her eyes focus on me instead of quickly darting away to other distractions.

The last time I saw her she said, “Jonathan, you look nice today.”

My breath squeezed from my lungs. I thanked her and rushed from the room, went outside, found a corner unto myself and cried.

No one sees me. And certainly, no one thinks I look nice.

So I listened more intently.

Car wreck. Injuries.

And then many hidden words I can’t quite make out.

When suddenly, the room stands still as I hear uttered, “Candy was killed.”

I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to know–but I had to ask them.

They rebuked me for listening in on adult conversations. I didn’t care.

“What happened to Candy?” I shouted, trying to pull up short of a scream.

Driving on vacation in Florida, Aunt Janice, Uncle Randy, Jeremy and Candy were struck by a drunk driver who went left of center, seriously injuring three of them … and killing the flower.

I couldn’t comprehend.

I saw no reasonable purpose for such insanity.

One week passed. It was Candy’s funeral. Aunt Janice was there in a body cast, Randy with a broken leg and Jeremy, all cut up and weeping. The whole room smelled like blood and rubbing alcohol.

One by one, family members passed by Candy’s casket. They paused and wept for a young woman with such promise, struck down at twenty-one.

It was my turn.

I spoke firmly to my legs, asking them to move, and gradually made my way to look into the mahogany box.

It was so odd.

Because she had been thrown through the windshield and severely mutilated, they had constructed a mask of her face made out of plastic, put make-up on it and squeezed it over her fractured features.

Before me was a doll.

It was a mannequin representation of a living soul.

I must have stood there too long because my mother came to my side, poked me in the ribs, and told me to move on.

I did so obediently, having no urge to stare at the harlequin before me. I excused myself and went outside.

About ten minutes later I returned. No one was in the room–just the casket, the empty shell of a saint … and me.

Mustering all my strength, I walked over again and looked at my departed loved one.

I said, “Candy, you look nice today.”

 

 

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Groomers… October 11, 2013

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HendrixGraying baby boomers.

Groomers.

I am, of course, talking about those individuals born between 1946 and 1960, who broke the sound barrier by exploding like an atomic bomb, witnessing the end of segregation and the voting in of the first Catholic President.

They left a footprint on history. Maybe better phrased, they stomped their boots into our consciousness. Even though many people criticize the destination of this generation, it is difficult to challenge the authenticity of their origin. Now their ages range from fifty-three to sixty-seven–just beyond being parents, and still a little young to be the grandparents of adolescents.

Many of them have left the church and politics and are looking for other distractions to fulfill the aching memories of their youthful escapades.

But we need these graying boomers to come back to the church, the political arena, the social maneuvering and the emerging etiquette of our country–to bring the passion of the 1960s into our present age.

There are three things that baby boomers believed which have vanished from our present social climate, leaving us overly concerned about our personal needs and too short-sighted in our world vision. These are the three things the graying boomers, which I call groomers, should reinstate in their children and their budding grandchildren:

1. To question is to care.

I know my parents were annoyed because I would not “leave well enough alone,” as they phrased it, always challenging the ideas around me. Why was I able to do so? Because I was not alone in doing it. I wasn’t a renegade–I was in the flow of a generation which believed that many things were questionable, so therefore, go ahead and do it–question.

2. We can change the world.

Call it idealism or dub it presumption–but the baby boomers, for a season, believed they could affect the temperature of our country and clear out the dark clouds. There was no sitting or “waiting on the world to change.”

3. We’re all brothers and sisters.

The music, the movies, the books and the romance of the time were riddled with the notion of brotherhood and a greater understanding that “it was so groovy, now, that people are finally gettin’ together.”

This trio of ideas is in the genetic makeup of the baby boomers, although it seems to have been lost through years of cynical half-hearted participation. It is ironic that a generation which criticized possessions ended up selling out to them.

But there’s still that seed.

Nowadays someone who questions is viewed as being “a troublemaker.”

We need the groomers to come along and teach the younger folks that it’s all right to peer into the soul of our society and demand better angels.

Likewise, nobody in our age believes we can change the world. So what’s the purpose of personal improvement if your voice is going to be drowned out by the din of repetition?

Groomers need to remind the younger ones of protest, creativity and the power of cooperation. And instead of shrinking our love down to our personal families, it would not hurt for the groomers to remind the world once again that we are the family of man.

Our generation needs to be groomed by those who remember when music was not just downloaded, but taken into the heart.

We could begin this in the church, since we have so many gray-hairs there already. We might as well put ’em to work.

Who knows? It might make them feel young again.

Who knows? They could be the spark of a new revolution.

 

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Beautiful … August 16, 2012

  • Loser — Part 3
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I am not beautiful.

I have known this for some time. Ever since I realized that the mirror before me was a reflecting piece of glass instead of a gateway to find Alice, I have been fairly aware of my status. What astounds me is the evolution that has occurred in the reaction I receive from people when making that simple statement. When I was a kid, if I said, “I am not beautiful,” the response from those around me would be, “Well, who is?” But now there’s a severe emotional handicap that causes people to literally rebuke me if I happen to be candid about my obvious condition. To say “I’m not beautiful” is considered poor self-worth, a blemish on self-esteem.

So nowadays, human beings,rather than finding a way to be truthful about their own feelings in situations, have to hide them behind a mask of verbal propriety, which literally requires that we always put their best foot forward and never become critical of their situations. Now, I might be impressed with this if it actually made better people. But instead, it creates haughtiness, a defensive nature and a whole lot of cover-up about what we know to be true.

I arrived early for my gig last night, so I found a secluded section of the parking lot and sat, enjoying the beauty of the day. Directly in front of my eyes was a patch of weeds which the landscaper had obviously ignored or had not yet put on his daily list of activities. I thought to myself, how do I know these are weeds? They’re perfectly green–just like other plants. They’re growing like …well… like a weed. Some of them even had little flowers on them, to increase the possibility for approval. But I knew they were weeds, and because I had this knowledge, I judged them harshly. It made me laugh. Basically, I am a weed.

Here I was, sitting in the parking lot of this strange church, ready to go in to set up my equipment and do my presentation–and I can tell you of a certainty, after forty years of performing, I am still not confident of my own ability. I am never sure I have enough. Truthfully, I do not know why anyone would want to listen. I am aware of the many distractions that leap before the human eye, to draw people away to other pursuits. Lots of folks would think it’s ridiculous for me to be so insecure about what I do, which they would tell me is done quite well.

But the answer is simple:

  • I have lost
  • I can lose
  • And therefore I am acquainted with being a loser.

That particular three-pronged passage would cause many people to be critical of me, telling me that I need to have more confidence and be more assertive. But it’s just not true. If I wrote in this jonathots that I’m a winner, that I can’t lose and that I have never been a loser, you might nod your head because society tells you that such proclamations have become appropriate.

But honestly, part of you would despise me. None of us like arrogant people, even when their conceit has some basis in reality. We want our geniuses to admit to moments of stupidity. We want our beauty queens to share a story about their battle with pimples. We want our politicians to admit they made a mistake, and therefore they are flip-flopping towards a more enlightened conclusion. I think we’re all grateful for a God who destroyed the world with a flood, but then turned around and admitted He was sorry He did it.

There is no power in being beautiful. There is no warmth in proclaiming your superiority. Anyone who would get in a van and travel across this country meeting strangers every single week, should be a little uncertain of the conclusions. If he or she isn’t, they are just self-deluded and overwrought about their own talents.

I believe I am valuable to God and other people because I know I’m not beautiful. I cannot stand in front of an audience with a straight face and tell them that all of my choices, ideas and ventures have been successful. They haven’t.

But until we understand that weakness, losing and even being a loser is a part of this experience on our cruise of earth, we will be in danger of either becoming obnoxious or just outright liars.

Because I am not beautiful and I am a loser, here’s what I do:

1. I work on my heart–my emotions. I want them pure.  I try the best I can to make sure that what I tell people is the closest thing to the truth as I see it now.

2. I also put my soul on notice that it is not allowed to be pompous or religious. My soul has two jobs–to be grateful to God and free of condemnation of others.

3. Because I know I’m a loser, I renew my mind by keeping it young, contemporary and evolving it towards discovering things that I don’t presently know.

4. And when it comes to my body, what I can do–my best choice–is to perform as well as I can without looking ridiculous. That’s it.

Trying to keep from being a loser is forsaking your humanity and attempting to make yourself a God among your peers. But when you’re able to admit you’re a loser and you work on your heart to keep it pure, your soul to be grateful and free of condemnation, your mind to be young and evolving and your body, to do the best it can without “jumping the shark,” you will have fellowship with many people and be of value to the world around you.

I am not beautiful–and by the way … I am so glad.

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