G-Poppers … June 15th, 2018

Colin Kaepernick.

Here’s a young fellow who chose to protest alleged use of irrational violence by the police department against young black men. His method of objection was very simple:

He was a football player, so when the National Anthem was performed, he refused to stand, but at first sat, and eventually, along with many others, took a knee during the Francis Scott Key.

It was harmless.

Unfortunately, it became quite a row when capitalism and democracy were unleashed from their cages to wrestle with one another.

G-Pop wants you to understand that the two don’t get along. Democracy contends that individual citizens have the freedom to express themselves without inhibition.

Capitalism places the entire significance of its purpose in its name–capital. Money is the reason, money is the means, money is the passion and money is the bottom line.

So G-Pop found himself in an interesting situation two nights ago while having dinner with friends. Having not given adequate thought on this battle between capitalism and democracy, G-Pop stated that he felt the decision to forbid the protest of these excellent athletes was a sham and would eventually be perceived as a national shame.

G-Pop spoke too soon.

As long as we continue to have a democracy that is acted out through capitalism, those who work for the corporation will need to honor the tenets, principles and concepts of the company–even if they feel it deters from their freedoms.

Every day, each one of us sacrifices a little choice so we can be part of a bigger unit.

We do so because of money.

We do so fearing that launching too much on our own, without financial prospects, will leave us broke and busted instead of a fine bloke who’s trusted.

It’s really quite simple.

As long as Mr. Kaepernick was “Colinizing” an idea with his friends, to project their disagreement, and the National Football League was NOT insisting they follow any particular code, it was beautiful, totally sane and within the bounds of reason.

But when President Trump challenged the owners of the NFL to make the “knee salute” a profile against the policy of the National Football League, capitalism won over freedom.

Pardon the pun, but Colin and his buddies had no leg to stand on.

It was nasty.

It was plotted.

And it turned what could have been a dynamic discussion into a wicked slap on the wrist in the principal’s office.

G-Pop was wrong.

Capitalism–the pursuit of capital–will always trim back democracy, the insistence on freedom.

So Colin and his “Colinizers” will have to find a different way to protest. G-Pop is completely confident they will.

But until they do, let us not make it an issue of patriotism, but rather, conclude correctly that it is merely patronizing the bottom line.

 

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G-Poppers … September 29th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop is encouraged.

While other folks are sorely distressed over the fussy argument about the correct posture to take in honoring the National Anthem, G-Pop feels the discussion is not only warranted, but well overdue.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve defined peace as being a lack of conflict. Actually, peace is the creative resolution of conflict.

Therefore, it is misplaced idealism to contend that human beings will agree, or even follow a code of ethics or morals from a single source. It’s never going to happen–not in the United States, where we tout justice for all.

The reason G-Pop is encouraged is because the balance in patriotism has been askew for many years.

There was a time when those who disagreed with the war in Vietnam were considered traitors. Now they’re regaled as prophets.

In the early part of this century, we were convinced that supporting the troops meant rubber-stamping the campaign in the Middle East, which now lumbers along, tripping over its own red tape.

May I offer a definition for patriotism? Patriotism is loving my country so much that I will disagree with the stupidities that rise up to tempt her.

Candidly, there is much that the black athletes in the NFL can learn from those who take a rigid salute to the Star Spangled Banner. Equally, those who think they have cornered the market on nationalism should certainly stop off and take a look at the neighborhoods that these talented athletes grew up in, and the brothers and sisters who concern their hearts.

It’s a simple process. You can do it for the nation, you can do it for your marriage, and you can do it in your personal life:

1. What are we doing right?

There are many things that are honorable and even eternal about this country. Criticism can take a temporary back seat to celebration. Let’s find what rings all of our bells before we get too specific about our “favorite chime.”

2. What are we doing wrong?

Anyone who insists that a nation is incapable of error simply by its name or birthright needs to read the Good Book and comprehend that God doesn’t call only people to repentance, but also countries and ideologies. There is much wrong with this country. It won’t kill us to know this. It won’t destroy us to admit it. And we do not need to be at each other’s throats in order to generate dynamic plans.

Which leads to:

3. How can we do more right without doing wrong to each other?

I have absolutely no authority to make fun of someone who stands at attention and salutes the flag when Francis Scott Key’s song is played to honor our country. Likewise, I have no purpose for condemning those who sit or take a knee to express that they are not abandoning this nation in despair, but are demanding that certain ailments be treated.

When the flag becomes more important than the freedom and the integrity of people, we are too engrossed in the flag.

When our cause seems more relevant and valuable than respecting those who take a more traditional profile to loving this country, then we are equally as ignorant in our understanding of liberty.

So I honor my country as I tinker with her.

I stand with those who stand, and I kneel with those who kneel–as we pursue improving the true expanse of freedom.

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Is It Still There? … May 6, 2013

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flagHave you ever listened closely to the lyrics? (Actually, since it was originally a poem, maybe I should say “the stanzas.”)

I’m talking about The Star Spangled Banner, penned by Francis Scott Key. After all, the emotion of the song is a yearning curiosity about whether the defenders of Ft. McHenry had survived the all-night battle–if the flag was still waving, proclaiming victory.

We’ve grown so accustomed to hearing the song sung by young, spoiled, famous pop artists, who are more concerned about the pitch range than they are about the emotional range, that we somehow have lost the significance of the message.

That night in Baltimore Harbor, Mr. Key was frantic about whether the United States would be able to continue its mission, initiated 36 years earlier with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

He was nervous. He was anxious for a little light to be shone on the day so he could determine the future of our nation.

For this I know–after all the scandals, ill-advised wars, foolish clinging to bigotry, financial disasters and even the broaching of civil rights which have peppered our history, we still remain a country which insists on pursuing the simple concept of personal freedom.

But like Francis Scott Key, I sometimes wonder whether The Star Spangled Banner is still there in the midst of all the partisanship and vendettas put out by less-than-scrupulous leaders in this country, who have more of a vested interest in their own personal wealth and position than they do in the deeper treasures of liberty.

But I am not cynical. I still believe I live in a magnificent country.

It all came to bear on me the other day when I received an email from my daughter-in-law, who was born and raised in China. She sent an attachment of a file, with her singing a song she will be auditioning tomorrow, to possibly perform for the UCLA graduation. It was The Star Spangled Banner.

First, I was astonished that she was a singer. She had never shared that talent with me in all of our varied conversations. She had listened to me croon away many times without piping a note herself. But when I listened to her gentle, sweet voice intone our national anthem, I was brought to tears–especially when I heard her share the phrase, “Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave–o’er the land of the free …?”

When she hit that high note, a chill went down my spine. Not because it was loud or intense. No–because I realized that here was a Chinese girl raised in among an intelligent and intuitive people, who had used her abilities to arrive on the shores of America to expand her education, and was now singing the praises of the “land of the free.”

You see–that’s America.

America isn’t about listening to a bunch of old codgers, sitting around in over-stuffed leather chairs discussing the subtleties of politics. America is a beautiful young girl from China, who still honors her country of origin, but comes to harvest the benefits from the freedom and opportunities provided by this republic.

It was beautiful. It struck a patriotic chord in me that still resounds this morning.

So you can feel free to continue to be part of the pervasive attitude that is trying to  preserve an America long gone or initiate an America yet unrevealed.

As for me, I will celebrate the power of the immigrant–that soul who has traveled to our shores to find the missing pieces of his or her life.

So here’s to my daughter-in-law and her beautiful spirit. I don’t know if she’ll win the audition or not–but she’s already proven that The Star Spangled Banner is still there.

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Song Guy … July 28, 2012

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I didn’t know what an ordination was. Probably worse is–I didn’t care. It’s just that this guy I knew was going to be ordained and he asked our fledgling group, Soul Purpose, to sing a tune at his ordination service.

He was probably only twenty-seven years old, but because I was only twenty, I thought he was ancient. (Twenty is that age when anyone nineteen or under is a punk and anyone over twenty-three is heading for social security.

I am sure when this guy asked me to have our group sing, he was thinking about something like Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art. That was not the way I thought. Even though I was only twenty years old, I had already written two songs, recorded them, put them on a 45 RPM record and had begun to travel around to small coffeehouses and area churches in order to convince all those willing to listen that I was worth hearing. So the invitation to sing a tune at the ordination prompted me to write another song. Now, I lived in a small town, where song-writing was normally relegated to Francis Scott Key or George Gershwin. Young men from the community–especially those who had not gone to college–were not permitted to participate in such a flamboyant activity. So the mention of writing a song was usually greeted with a frown or a snicker. It just wasn’t done.

So when I announced to my friend that I was going to write a special song just for his ordination, he was rather nervous. Matter of fact, he discouraged me from doing so in the nicest way possible. I didn’t care. You see, I wanted to be a Song Guy. One of those people who writes “the songs the whole world sings” and “wants to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.”

So I sat down and wrote a song, fittingly entitled To Be Ordained, taught it to our group and performed it at the ordination, to surprised appreciation. I had now written three songs and was convinced that Bob Dylan was in danger.

Shortly after that I was inspired again and wrote a fourth song, called The Blood of the Son Makes Us One. About two or three months after writing that song, I attended a concert by a well-known gospel group called The Rambos, and through a series of near-mishaps and unbelievable events, got them to listen to my song. They ended up liking it. They signed it and decided to record it. I was amazed at how easy this was. I had only written four songs and I was already poised to become the next great Song Guy.

And then … I learned what I probably should have known (but of course, I wouldn’t have known it because there was no place for me to have learned it).

I arrived in Nashville to present my song in front of the music publishers, and they, being good business people, wanted to hear my “entire catalogue.” You may not know this, but those picky folks in Nashville don’t consider four songs to be a catalogue. I was in a room with a captive audience of very influential and prosperous men and women, who were anxious to hear the entire body of my work, and I didn’t even have a thumb.

It was embarrassing. It was debilitating. They wanted more … and I had nothing.

You see, I realized in that moment that I didn’t want to be a Song Guy. I wanted to be a guy who wrote A song that made lots of money and then everybody just kept giving him money because he wrote THAT song. I became aware that I had been trained to work on what I wanted to BE instead of actually practicing and performing what I could DO.

It is one of the flaws in the American dream. AFter all, the hypocrisy and presumption is in the title itself. It is a dream–a fantasy of where we want to end up, with no comprehension about what it takes to get there and even less passion for the actual labor itself.

I walked out of that office in Nashville that day resolute. I would never put myself in that position again. I realized that I DID want to be a Song Guy, but not because I wanted to be recorded, make a lot of money and be famous. It was because I really had something to say. And whether anyone ever heard it or not, it needed to escape my body–or it would possess my soul.

Within two years, I wrote an album’s worth of material, which ended up being recorded and played nationally. I then turned around and wrote a fifteen-song musical based on the Sermon on the Mount which toured across the country. When I got together with my family, I wrote at least three albums of songs, which we never actually recorded, and even today, I feel compelled to compose enough music for at least one album per year.

I actually have less attention to my work than I did when I had my four little songs at age twenty, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t write music, books or even this jonathots because I am secretly awaiting the arrival of fame and fortune. I write music because deep in my heart I want to be the Song Guy. I have to allow the music to escape.

The greatest lesson you can teach any young person (or even yourself if you missed it on the way to older) is: Don’t think about what you want to be. Just start working on what you can do. It may be the flaw in our higher educational system. We ask people what they want to be when they grow up instead of giving them a chance to do it and finding out if it wears well on their everyday bodies.

I am a Song Guy. I don’t worry about whether I’m great. I’m not concerned about sitting in rooms with the upper crust of the music industry, seeking their approval. I write songs because they’re in me, I have something to say … and God seems to enjoy listening to them.

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