Ask Jonathots … November 17th, 2016

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When turning the other cheek, how do you ensure you won’t be slapped twice?

A door has two functions.

If open, it provides access to another possibility.

If closed, it creates curiosity, but also can pass along the impression that what is beyond the barrier is forbidden.

The reason most people fight is because the doors are closed. It’s the main reason that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” fails to achieve any purpose–because slamming the door in the face of another human being does not mean they won’t try to burst through or close doors in your face.

Retaliation is a never-ending process–unless somebody opens a door.

I have relationships with people who are fruitful, even though they’ve been speckled with egregious conflict and offense. They work because doors are left open.

And I have broken connections with other folks that were halted because the door was slammed on communication, leaving behind a climate of mistrust–a grudge.

When you turn the other cheek, you refuse to slam the door on the possibility of creating peace.

Will someone take advantage of your willingness and slug you again? Perhaps. But if you push back they will certainly follow up their violence with additional attacks.

For after all, there are no guarantees when it comes to interaction with human beings, yet I can promise you that if you slam doors, strike out, or try to get even, you will certainly be in danger of escalating the aggression.

It is in that moment of turning the other cheek, refusing to participate, and allowing for cooler heads to prevail, that you thrust a mirror into the face of your enemy and let him or her see themselves as the villain.

Does it always work? Does anything?

Certainly there are some folks who will continue to beat on you once you stop fighting, but it is not the norm. Usually when you refuse to seek revenge, you will stall the vitriol of others and give them pause to contemplate.

In that moment, more than likely you will avoid the second slapping–and just possibly open the door to conversation. 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … June 4th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Woman: You scare me.

 

Dear Man: What do you mean?

 

Dear Woman: I mean, you frighten me. Is it natural? Was this terror taught to me or is it legitimately part of the evolution of our species–to keep a certain amount of friction between the genders?

 

Dear Man: Since we’re being honest, I’m scared too. Scared of myself. But mostly when I’m around you. Why do you think women put ten or twenty different fragrances all over our bodies everyday? We’re afraid we stink. Stink to you. I don’t know where I learned that. It’s hard for me to believe that I have a genetic code that makes me want to use lotion.

 

Dear Woman: While we’re on the subject–I’m supposed to smell like a man. What in the hell does that mean? I feel like there’s a role I need to play. Sometimes it feels natural, but other times I think you just need me to be manly so you can feel womanly.

 

Dear Man: So what does it mean to be womanly? Does it mean I feel more than I think? It’s so confusing because we say that women are more emotional, but then we turn around and say women are smarter than men. Which one is it?

 

Dear Woman: And is there any spirituality to this whole mess? Is there a Creator who sees us as equals? Or is He intent on us camping out in our genders and remaining separate?

 

Dear Man: It started when I was a kid–trying to avoid “handsy” male cousins and being quietly warned by my mother about certain uncles. I felt like an object. I was in the room but I wasn’t seen unless I was pretty, or unless someone noticed how fast I was growing. None of my relatives ever asked how I was doing on the basketball team. It was always some reference to my beauty or my training as a young woman.

 

Dear Woman: So no wonder we’re terrified of each other. But I will tell you this–I certainly think it would be worth the time to find out how much of this horror was infused by our training and if any of it is legitimate tension brought on by our differences.

 

Dear Man: And here’s the kicker. You’re supposed to be my best friend while simultaneously I am led to believe that a man can’t really be my friend at all.

 

Dear Woman: So I come back to my point. I’m nervous around you, which sometimes makes me not want to be around you, so I can avoid being nervous.

 

Dear Man: I totally understand that. When I want to be myself, I get away from men because I’m afraid if I reveal my real desires, they will either be apathetic or turned off.

 

Dear Woman: I can’t live my life wondering what a woman thinks about me. It will drive me crazy and make me hate her.

 

Dear Man: Likewise for me. There has to be a soft place to be in life–where you don’t have to try too hard, as you do try to improve what you can, without fear of being criticized.

 

Dear Woman: Shouldn’t that be with me?

 

Dear Man: It should, but not as long as I am convinced by society that you’re my enemy.

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Ask Jonathots … June 2nd, 2016

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I keep hearing from pundits that “Americans are angry.” Do you think this is true? If so, what do you think is the source of this frustration?

Every coin has two sides. The problem with America today is a two-sided coin.

This is the source of what most people are referring to as “anger,” which really is nothing more than a tantrum.

Here’s the two-sided coin:

  1. “It’s not my fault.”
  2. “God will take care of it.”

Both of these statements are inherently flawed, and therefore often lead to unsatisfactory conclusions, which can cause people to develop a childish rant.

Let’s start with the first one.

The problems in our lives to some degree always involve our own lacking, procrastination, indifference, laziness or bigotry. If you can convince someone that “it’s not their fault,” then they can start looking for an enemy.

On the other hand, the second assertion–that God will take care of everything–has generated false hope. God did not create anything that does not have to participate in life. Humans are no different.

So it’s not so much that people are angry, but rather, that they’re experiencing the symptoms of seven-year-old tantrums, brought on by the fear of being held responsible or the errant promise of God taking care of everything. When these fail, frustration sets in.

So what can be done about this?

First, we have to stop legitimizing childish behavior. We have to take authority over our lives by admitting our part in the problem.

Then I think we need to teach those who seek a spiritual aspect that God is always prepared to give us wisdom, but rarely offers free checks in the mail.

Just enacting these two simple ideas would remove most of the attitude in this country which we have dubbed “anger,” and would replace it with a new feeling of good cheer, because we would be empowered to negotiate in our own lives instead of always looking for someone to blame or some heavenly being to take over our mess.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … March 9th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn March 9

Well Handled

The reason I am here

Is to reject the nagging fear

Discarding the obvious delusion

I walk toward a better conclusion

Even when problems arise

I escape the trench of lies

For I am just a man

Nothing is as I plan

My power is in arriving

My joy lies in surviving

An awkward traveler I be

A humble attitude for me

Of a surety for one and all

Pride will make us fall

So sit before you stand

Survey your piece of land

Your enemy is always worry

Avoid the need to hurry

Working within your space

Handle your thoughts with grace.

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Jesonian: F. A. A. E. … October 18th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

In an age when Facebook has attempted to simplify relationships down to “friend” and “unfriend,” it might be of social significance to each one of us to look at the Jesonian approach to human interaction.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus did not love everybody with the same intensity. There were measures, concerns, confinements and meters to his affection and devotion.

Understanding that those judgments were not based upon prejudice, but rather, practicality, is the beginning of forming a way of dealing with humanity, preventing you from becoming jaded.

Jesus put human relationships into four categories:

1. Friend.

His definition of “friend” was very specific. He traveled with twelve disciples for more than three years before he referred to them as friends–and then he said he felt he could do so because he could “share his life with them.”

A true friend is a rarity because you must be willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly without fear of incrimination.

2. Acquaintances.

These are people Jesus interacted with who shared a common purpose, but not necessarily a transparency. They were the many individuals who believed on him because they encountered a miracle. But generally speaking, these acquaintances did not end up following him, but departed on their own to start a new life, or were instructed by Jesus to go back to their homes and spread the good news.

3. Adversary.

It will probably astound you when I say that most of the interaction you have with your fellow-travelers will be adversarial.

An adversary is someone you really want to grow to appreciate and love, so you’re learning to cooperate with each other, while also being fully aware of your differences. This is why Jesus told us to “reason with our adversary.” Don’t criticize them; don’t kill them. Find the areas where you concur, and interact in those ventures without forcing agreement in others.

4. Enemies.

And finally, an enemy is simply defined as someone who does not wish you good will. Enemies are not happy when you succeed.

They may not plot against you nor gossip but they do not rejoice when you rejoice, nor mourn when you mourn.

This is where the variety and intensity of Jesonian affection is put into place. So:

We love our friends because we can be completely open with them.

We honor our acquaintances because we share so much in common that it establishes a deep sense of human-hood.

We commit to our adversaries because they keep us thinking and challenge us to have a good reason for what we believe instead of stumping and stomping around about our contentions.

And we respect our enemies because that is the only way we can assure ourselves that their animosity will not easily be turned into action against us.

  • Friends are rare.
  • Acquaintances are growing.
  • Adversaries are plentiful.
  • And enemies are few.

Fortunately, the treatment for all of them is easy to remember:

A multi-faceted love.  

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G-Poppers … October 16th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

Grandson and Granddaughter came running into the room under a great cloud of bickering.

Grandson had obviously had a tiff with a friend because he was proclaiming, “People are bad,” while Granddaughter was defending the race, saying that “people are good.”

G-Pop sat quietly listening, allowing the smoke to clear from their battle.

At length, Granddaughter asked, “What do you think, G-Pop? Are people bad? Or good?”

G-Pop smiled and said, “People are like really smart, well-trained dogs. They have learned that if they don’t pee on the carpet, they get more treats. If they stay out of the closet and refrain from chewing shoes, they receive more freedom on the leash. And if they learn when to bark, and certainly never bite, they are considered a treasure.”

“But when they’re not smart, and they’re poorly trained, they tend to run in packs, attacking anyone who’s weak. But let me tell you–it does not matter if the dog is smart or well-trained. You still must keep it away from cats and garbage cans–because every dog, when it gets around its enemy–the cat–turns into a scrapper. And every canine becomes nothing less than an animal when it hangs around the garbage.”

When G-Pop finished his little comparative narrative, he realized he was dealing with a split audience.

His grandson seemed delighted, having his faith restored that new tricks were possible from a “dogged” populace. But G-Pop’s granddaughter–well, she seemed disgusted, displaying a “screw the pooch” face.

“People aren’t dogs,” she snarled as she scampered out of the room.

G-Pop giggled. Turning to his grandson, he concluded, “She’s right, you know. People aren’t really dogs. Yet getting smarter and better trained may still be our best path to guarding our houses, while still remaining man’s best friend.”

 

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It Still Works … August 1, 2013

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nooseThree hundred and sixty five days.

That’s a year, right? I mean, I know it’s a year, but sometimes you look at a number you’re totally acquainted with and it looks weird to you.

But anyway, it was one year ago that a friend of mine called me on the phone, distraught, disappointed, disgusted and feeling generally … dissed.

He had faithfully worked a job for three years, trying to improve the quality of his performance and expand as an individual, only to be struck down in an ego battle with a new employee who decided that my friend was in the way and needed to be disposed of quickly.

He was fired from his position.

He was hurt. He had never experienced such humiliation.

It is difficult, at that point, for anyone to believe that anything good will come out of the situation. Foolishness, self-righteousness and revenge seem to have great power when we’ve been laid waste by the selfishness of others.

It’s because we have all been taught a lesson or two about “might making right.” We all think the Marines should sweep in and punish the evil-doers. We succumb to the notion that if God really loved us, He would destroy our enemies.

So I was pleasantly surprised when my friend received my counsel. My advice was simple:

“Stupid that pretends to be smart always eventually gets exposed as stupid and then–ends up smarting.”

For instance, we see Haman in the Old Testament, plotting against Esther, to murder the competition by building a gallows where he hoped she would be hung for being a traitor. But move ahead a few months. Truth comes out, lies are exposed, plots are revealed … and Hamen is hanging from his own gallows.

Meanwhile, back to my friend: one year to the day after he was demoralized by the foolish avenger, he not only has grown, prospered and enricheded his sitruation, but the gentleman who decided to mark him for destruction–he, himself, is now gone to parts unknown.

The good news of the gospel WORKS.

Jesus never told us that wisdom is a fully grown plant. It is always a seed. It demands that we place it in the ground provided for us and then have a bit of patience to see goodness come to fruition.

The only other alternative is to indulge yourself in a bloody hand-to-hand combat with other human beings until you are eventually vanquished by someone stronger.

When my friend called yesterday, to tell me of the fate of his foe, I was relieved. I was not comforted because someone suffered the slings and arrows of his own device, but rather, I felt a sense of great wonder–that the gospel of Jesus, which is normally eyeballed as a philosophy of the weak and poor–had once again proven that it triumphs over the rich and the haughty.

It still works, my friends. Normally, it demands that you swallow a lump of pride and digest it out of your system in order to give God a chance to prove the point … and bless you.

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