Testing the Repair … September 6, 2012

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Confusion is a bad thing. It tends to make us frustrated and lazy. It should be avoided. But how can you avoid confusion without either developing some sort of “pie in they sky” philosophy, or walking around so disgruntled that you put the entire human community on edge?

Here’s what I do–I relate everything to me. I know that may sound arrogant, so let me qualify. I try to envision any situation in the world around me and compare it to something about me or something I’ve experienced.

So when people talk about education, I pursue learning and personal instruction in matters that will enlighten me and make my choices more informed. When people talk about food and healthy selections, I go to the grocery store and look around for things that fall within the spectrum of what is considered to be nourishing, and from those particular possibilities I grab my personal favorites to form my diet. When people talk about God, I envision a father much like myself, who through trial and error is trying to do the best for his children in instructing them while continuing to love them at all times.

So when they talk to me about politics and business, I don’t let my head spin with a bunch of statistics being offered by both Republicans and Democrats, who are promoting their cause and agenda. Instead, I like to take the situation happening in our economy and apply it to my own life–thereby getting a deeper understanding. Let me hush up with the explanation and give you an example.

I told you earlier in the week that I was “leaky”–that is, my radiator. Well, it turns out it needed to be replaced. Now, I don’t know much about radiators, so I contacted some friends and asked their opinions. You might call them my “advisors.” I got four different outlooks on the issue.

One friend insisted that I needed to take it to a dealership because they were the only ones who completely understood my vehicle, and I shouldn’t enlist some local repair shop, even if it cost me more to go to the big guy.

Another of my counselors asked me if the van was presently leaking. I explained that some friends in South Lyon had put some Stop Leak in it and that it was not dripping any fluid at all. He just laughed and said some variation of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  I think it was, “If it don’t leak, don’t plug it.”

A third friend I conferred with said I should go out and get it welded, or sautered, or whatever they do–get it repaired. It would be cheaper. For after all, he said, there was no need to throw away ninety per cent of a good radiator just because ten per cent was being fussy.

And the final person I spoke to thought I should go to a junk yard, find an old van and remove the radiator from that vehicle and place it into my transportation–because it would be cheaper, even though I would have to put on my rummaging shoes.

Please understand, I took all four perspectives into account. Each one of them was pretty sure he was giving me superb advice. I suppose I could have taken each particular maneuver, applied it and achieved some level of success. Instead, I pursued a fifth option.

I found a reputable repair shop and had them put on a new radiator. It was expensive. I realized if I paid all that money for the radiator and it ended up not working very well or something else broke down in the next few weeks, I would be compiling great financial turmoil for myself and probably end up looking pretty stupid.

Bold maneuvers always put you on top of a mountain, where it’s hard to escape being peered at by the congregation below. So if I bought this radiator and it went well, within a few weeks I would be so happy that I was cruising along without fear of my Stop Leak giving up its “stop,” or my junkyard radiator being junk, or my repaired water holder being irreparable, or paying even more by having the reassurance of a dealership.

I had to risk looking stupid to give myself a new, fresh opportunity. Even as I drive down the road today, heading towards Indiana from Michigan, I am not out of the woods. Every mile is a test-drive of my decision on how to repair my van.

The holes in the radiator were not my fauilt.I don’t feel guilty that the problem came up. I don’t feel responsible that it occurred “on my watch” instead of the time-clock of the former owner. I just want to make sure that I give myself the best chance to resolve the situation, even though my wallet took a hit and I put myself in a vulnerable position, where if something else goes wrong, I might just end up looking stupid. Remember–“smart” is often “stupid” which survived the trial. Do you see my point?

I think the same thing is true in our country. The last thing in the world we need in the US of America right now is an election. What we really require is a revival of common sense.

We need our teachers to instruct in subjects that will prepare the students for a real-life situation in this twenty-first-century global economy.

We need corporations to stop sitting on profit margins, contriving new bonuses, but instead, taking the good old-fashioned capitalist risk of venturing into new schemes which will require more employees.

We need politicians to stop campaigning and start considering ways to make ideas functional, even though often when you implement them they may seem scary at first because you do not know if they will actually take care of the repair.

And we need ministers and spiritual people in this country to stop plugging religion and give us the impetus and motivation to believe that “NoOne is better than anyone else” and that we are the only “we” that is available at this time in this season for this situation.

What do I think about America? I think we decided to do something four years ago, as a nation, by a majority, and now we’ve got a little “buyer’s remorse.” As I drive along today, I am hoping that my choice on how to repair my van is going to hold up and work. Any good American should be feeling the same way about the choices we’ve made to repair this country and its economy. It doesn’t mean other things won’t come up. It doesn’t mean we won’t need each other for further counsel–to tweak the solution. It just means that sometimes, all you can do is choose the best you can and then work with your best guess.

I do not condone either party or support either candidate. I know this–as in the case of the radiator on my van, every choice I made had its good points and bad points. I made a choice. Yes, I gave my van a stimulus program. We’ll see if it works. And if it doesn’t, I’m going to need those friends who gave me their input, to help me find a way to reclaim a new solution. And if it does work, I need to humbly bow my head in prayer and thank my Father for being merciful to this child.

It’s time for Americans to stop fighting. Hang in there with each other; make some subtle changes–but test out the repair. It took us eight years to screw up the economy–and the people who did it weren’t bad. It’s just that their repair didn’t hold up. But since it took eight years to get in trouble, I don’t know whether we can expect to escape in four.

  • What we need are people who will believe without demanding that their opinions be supreme.
  • What we require is faith in one another.
  • What we don’t need is to tear our nation apart over tiny points of legalism and end up with too much to prove for any good to come of it.

So here I go–my confusion about the United States has been clarified by a decision I had to make this week about a radiator. Am I right? Am I wrong? I won’t know until I test the repair.

But I do know this–whatever happens, I won’t blame anyone, including myself. I’ll just take the next better idea that comes along, thank whoever gave it to me, and make it my own.

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

Guns, Grass and Whipped Cream … July 30, 2012

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Walking through a poorly lit parking lot one evening, I happened upon three young fellows sprawled out on the hood of their car, smoking marijuana. Now, I assumed it was marijuana because there was only one cigarette which they passed back and forth. I suppose it could have been a lean financial week, and we were dealing with a Winston-Salem product, but for the sake of my story, allow me the assumption.

As I neared their location, I noticed that laying on the car hood in the midst of them was a hand gun. I did not know why. Perhaps later on, they planned on going out into the woods and hunting for game to take home to their lovely wives and dear children. It could be that they were afraid that some fat, aging, traveling author would come along and accost them and they would need to defend themselves. Maybe they had taken it out to clean it in preparation for going to the local shooting range to hone up their skills and make themselves better prepared for an upcoming tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Handgun

Handgun (Photo credit: brendonjford)

I suppose all of these are possibilities, but not what immediately leaped into my mind. What came to my thinking was that I was about to pass by three individuals who were under the influence of grass and had a hand gun, ironically, very close to their hands. Thoughts of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and whether legalizing marijuana would alleviate cartel activity in South America did not come to play in my reasoning. I was wondering if I was going to be able to get to my car with my wallet, watch, health and well-being uninterrupted.What profile should I take? I chose to address them before they looked at me, and fortunately for this traveling journeyman, they peered at me through bleary, bloodshot eyes, nodded in my direction and let me pass.Likewise, just the other night, I was watching television and a commercial came on for whipped cream-flavored vodka.  Honestly, since I’m not a drinker, notions of “yum-yum” did not come to my “tum-tum.” But I wondered, as a businessman, what the target market was for this product?

For instance, when I watch re-runs of Bonanza on TV Land, all of the commercials are about Depends diapers and Medic Alert, which makes sure that if you fall down and can’t get up, somebody will find you before you begin to decay. I immediately understand that I am watching a show being viewed mostly by people who are even older than I am.

But what IS the market for whipped cream-flavored vodka? Could it be a Green Bay Packer fan? I dismissed that. My understanding is that they take even their hot chocolate straight. Then I thought about NASCAR. But it’s only the people who win the Indianapolis 500 who indulge in milk products. Who could they be targeting with whipped cream-flavored vodka?

All at once, fearing that I was a bit jaded, I considered that it seems like the individuals who would be interested in such a product would be young women between the ages of fifteen and thirty. I immediately rebuked myself for such negative projection. Certainly the makers of this product wouldn’t be trying to get young girls to drink more and more vodka because “…well, golly, it tastes like whipped cream.”

You see, I understand what it means to be an adult. I am thoroughly in favor of the Bill of Rights. It would never be my desire to take a gun out of anybody’s hand.

It’s just the arguments that bother me. When the National Rifle Association says, “If you ban guns, then only criminals will have them,” if you will forgive me, I followed that premise through to a conclusion. So therefore, if everyone has guns in order to keep the criminals from possessing an “exclusive,” then EVERYONE is armed and prepared, with the right amount of provocation, to use that weapon to at least threaten someone else. Do we REALLY want a nation where everyone is armed to the teeth, with the capability of intimidating one another at the drop of a hat or the stealing of a lane on the freeway–even if there is never an exchange of fire? As I told you, the young men sitting on the hood of the car did not grab the gun. The existence of the gun threatened me. I could feel the bullets tearing through my vulnerable flesh.

In like manner, if we go ahead and legalize marijuana so that the criminals will not be in charge of marketing it, we may alleviate the economic problem and maybe even the policing of the situation, but don’t we open up the door to a nation with people walking around in a purple haze? Are we really prepared to have our young men and women not only stupefied by video games, but further incapacitated by marijuana? Do we really want to say it’s all right for Charlie Sheen to legally believe he has tiger’s blood?

Freedom is a necessary profile–as long as it’s accompanied by responsibility. Do you want your teenaged daughter, or granddaughter, for that matter, to finally break down and try vodka because it tastes like whipped cream? Is that creating products that are suited for adults? Or is it trying to force immature people into an adult world with the use of a vice–or even a potentially deadly weapon?

Please allow me five question:

1. Does freedom come with adult responsibility?

2. If it does come with adult responsibility, should it be monitored, or even forbidden, for children?

3. If forbidden to children, how do we meter the effects of its existence in a world inhabited by these younger ones?

4. If we’re metering the effects, how can we avoid some sort of regulation?

5. If regulated, how do we protect the adult freedom to partake?

Therein lies the debate. If we were sincerely talking about mature, intelligent adults having a realistic discussion on how to be responsible for their activities, I would say “yea and amen.” But when guns, marijuana and whipped cream vodka are basically being marketed to non-adults as proficiently or even more effectively than they are to their alleged target audience, there seems to be some insincerity, if not hypocrisy.

Please do not tell me that part of humanity is criminal and the other part is Polly Purebread. For I will tell you, when you give people the freedom to use something destructive, no matter how many Sunday School classes they attend, they will eventually use that destructive force. If you don’t believe me, think about the intelligent scientists, the well-educated politicians and the culturally grounded generals who built a bomb in 1940, and by 1945, set it off …. twice.

We can trust ourselves with freedom as long as it is not a weapon, a drug or a tease for us to slide into our more demented parts.

Oh and by the way… I don’t see the makers of the vodka offering the sensible and healthy choice of broccoli-flavored.

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

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