Things I Learned from R. B. (August 30th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4510)

Episode 30

I seized on a space of silence to attempt to calm my troubled mind.

I reflected back on the early morning phone call from Johnny, when he explained, in a fevered huff, that he had been arrested and was in jail, requiring bail.

From his disjointed explanation, I was able to comprehend that he had gone to a local mall to window shop and was “suddenly overtaken” with an obsession to steal a woman’s purse. Unsuccessful at obtaining it, he had been detained and now needed me to come and pay him out of his travail.

Mentally, I was halfway down the hall of my home, keys in one hand and wallet in the other, when my spirit tackled me and forced me to reconsider.

I heard a voice in my ear whisper, “This is not your business. Call Johnny’s family.”

So I did.

I telephoned one of his brothers in Rhode Island, who sheepishly took responsibility, not seeming to be surprised.

I went back to sleep and awoke the next morning, refreshed. I had a lovely day until just shortly after lunch.

Another call from Johnny, requesting that I meet him at the hospice. He was trying to talk to R. B. about some necessary business matters and had hit numerous snags.

I kept waiting for that sweet spirit-voice from the night before, to whisper in my ear, freeing me of responsibility.

But this time I was on my own.

I agreed to come. When I arrived, I was surprised to discover all sorts of paperwork laid out on R. B.’s bed and the two brothers embroiled in a nasty conflict.

Johnny explained that the government was asking R. B. to take some of the thousands of dollars he had in the bank, which had been given to him as disability, and spend it in a productive way, or they would stop issuing checks in his direction.

I felt like someone had punched me in the gut.

For a solid year, I had been paying R. B.’s rent, utilities and groceries. Now I was discovering that he had sought assistance from the government, received it, and had so much money in the bank that they were requesting that he disperse it or lose his supplemental income.

I stared at the two brothers. It had not occurred to either one of them that I had been suspended in a spider web of their lies—cheated out of money that R. B. did not need.

My instinct was to turn on my heel and leave. Or maybe I could join the screaming match they had begun, adding in my own lamentations.

But then I looked at the thief and the skeleton sitting in front of me. My responsibility in this matter was not going to last much longer.

Yet five years from this moment, the only thing I would have left was my dignity and the memory of how I conducted myself.

So I tried to be helpful.

It seemed the best way for R. B. to keep the government money flowing into his coffers was to buy a grave plot in Gallatin, Tennessee, which was permissible to do and would lessen his bank balance.

Also, there was a huge argument about R. B.’s car.

Johnny wanted it, and R. B. was digging in his heels, refusing to release it.

It was pathetic—this crippled, hurting and broken man quibbling over an old car.

At length I proclaimed, “Tell you what, R. B. Give Johnny your car. And then, when you get out of the hospital here, I promise you that as a celebration, I will buy you a brand-new car.”

He should have seen through the offer.

He should have realized his situation.

But instead, his eyes lit up with glee.

He stuck out a bony hand to shake mine, confirming the arrangement. It was just a goddamn ugly meeting.

The final piece of wacky meaninglessness was when Johnny took out a book he had purchased about heaven, written by Billy Graham, and began to read passages aloud to R. B., whose eyes welled with tears.

I suppose there was nothing wrong with it. Some people would suggest that it was therapeutic or great ministry.

But it left me cold.

I excused myself and made my way out the door.

As I shuffled down the hallway, looking at other human souls who were hanging in the balance, I realized that a hospice is no place to come if you’re searching for hope.

1 Thing You Can Do That Leads to a Second Thing

DO IT

Recently I met a young man in his mid-twenties, and when I asked him how his romantic life was going, he said, “Not very well at all.”

So I probed. “What seems to be the problem?”

“No problem,” he replied.

“I’m just holding out for the right one.”

I retorted, “You know, you could do some wrong ones while you’re waiting for the right one.”

He didn’t think I was funny.

Maybe you don’t either.

Maybe you’re one of those kinds of people who plans, organizes and prays to a weary deity, hoping that one day your ship will come in, your pot of gold will appear at the end of the rainbow, or your dream will be fulfilled.

You do realize why they make movies about people who have such miracles happen.

They’re unusual.

Most of us never end up with exactly what we envisioned

But if we have any kind of creativity, inspiration or even sense of humor, we make it work.

But we can’t do that unless we’re out there doing something instead of constantly delaying.

If the chance of you being successful the first time you do anything is small, you might as well prepare for a second or third attempt at it—especially since forgiveness is so available for those who will humbly ask.

I, for one, have grown weary of waiting.

I do not think we have to be stuck with a government that is non-functioning.

Nor that two political parties afford us sufficient choices to run that government.

Also, God is not keen on doing my job for me—living my life.

I would rather go out and do something, learn from it and have a chance to try again than spend my whole life sitting around, trying to be patient, and never having the opportunity come my way.

  • If you’re going to practice, do it in front of an audience.
  • If you’re going to pray, do it under your breath while you’re working.
  • And if you’re looking for love, it sure as hell wouldn’t hurt you to start being lovable.

 

Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4105)

Sitting Twenty-Eight

All at once, Karin was chilled by a startling realization. She considered herself to be an intelligent, astute, and even clever discerner of human emotions, especially being able to separate the false from the true, with some regularity. Now she found herself completely overwhelmed by the common sense of two twelve-year-old boys, whose argument not only left her perplexed, but nearly breathless with its sincerity.

Was she going crazy? Had she spent too much time in the desert with these two youngsters? Or perhaps it was just her own internal questioning about the hypocrisy of the society surrounding her, surfacing and finding voice in the two adolescent rabble-rousers.

But there was no doubt about it—Karin Koulyea, newspaper woman extraordinaire, was stymied. She realized that Iz and Pal could not be coaxed back to their former lives through the presentation of treats or the sum token of receiving a little more freedom.

She took a deep breath and then growled at them with the most gravitas she could muster. “You see, here’s the problem. They are grown-ups. They have earned the right to be stupid. The years that have passed, that have grayed their hair, have also given them the privilege to do stupid things. I’m not telling you I agree, but I am telling you that nobody cares what my opinion may be on the matter. Guys, they don’t have to make sense. Of course hate is stupid! But hate is what they always do when they run out of ideas. And if you ask me, government is what people do when they feel they’ve lost control. If you’ll just hear me for a second, I, Karin, your friend, am just telling you that they are not going to let you continue to be your own little country out here in the sand.”

Iz interrupted. “I suppose you’re talking about the rally.”

Karin was taken aback. “Iz, how did you find out about the rally?”

He just shook his head. “They wrap some of our food in newspaper, so as we sit and eat the cheese and bread, we read the local news. We understand that next Thursday, they plan on coming out here and taking us away.”

Karin sat for a moment. Pal started to speak but Iz reached over and put a hand on his leg, encouraging his silence.

Finally Karin asked, “So what are you going to do?”

Iz lifted his hand, motioning toward Pal, giving him the moment. “You just don’t get it, lady. What do you mean, ‘what are we gonna do?’ We’re gonna stay. They’re the ones who are going to cause trouble. So as long as we don’t fight, they’ll end up looking like the troublers.”

Iz interrupted, “And we will end up looking like the heroes.” The two boys exchanged a high five.

Karin didn’t know what she felt about their statements. There was an optimism that might have a grain or two of truth, but deep in her heart, she was aware that the staunch purveyors of religion and culture would never be satisfied without dominating.

She reached out and took each boy by the hand. “They won’t let you be what you want to be—mainly because they all want to be something else but have convinced themselves that their God is mad at anyone who is truly happy.”

There was a moment of stillness, almost resembling understanding. Suddenly, Iz crawled away on all fours, across the desert sand, stumbling to his feet, and walked a few paces away. Turning, he said, with tears in his voice, “What good is it if we start something out here and don’t finish it? How are we any different from them? They make peace treaties, and the first time it becomes hard to follow, they drop it. They make promises to love and care, and then they just forget.”  He stepped toward Karin. “We will not forget. And we will never give up.”

Karin struggled to her feet, stood and pointed at Iz. “Yes, you will. Because they will make you give up. They will defeat you and humiliate you and make you seem even younger and smaller than you really are.”

Karin turned to include Pal in her words. “Maybe when you’re men someday, you can change the world. But nobody changes the world with a child’s hand.”

Pal leaped to his feet and pointed to Iz and back to himself. “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘a little child shall lead them?’” he asked defiantly.

“The Bible says a helluva lot of things,” Karin scoffed, “but the Bible always gets shouted down by folks with money and power.”

The three stood in the desert, exchanging glances. Slowly, Iz stepped over and sat back down. He looked off in the distance as if speaking to the universe. “I don’t care about that. We have a plan.”

He quickly glanced over at Pal, who widened his eye sockets to well back the tears. Pal nodded and added, “Yes. A plan.”

Karin pivoted and turned to them, a little bit shaken by their tone of voice. “Well, come on. You can tell me what the plan is.”

As if on cue, Iz and Pal stood and began to kick the soccer ball back and forth, running in circles around Karin, bouncing the ball against her legs, off her hips and then, her head, closing in nearer and nearer to her.

“Quit it!” she screamed, angry and frightened. But they didn’t. They kept kicking the ball, dancing in a circle around her. She stumbled, nearly falling, and tried to push back at them, but they kept kicking the ball, encircling her. They were laughing.

“All right, you little jerks!” she screamed. “I’m out of here!”

Gaining her balance, she rushed past them and stomped away, but as she left, she turned and said, “This doesn’t change anything. You can chase me away, but you can’t chase the goddamn world away.”

The two boys continued their kicking and playing, ignoring her words. When they were sure that she was far down the hill and would not return, Iz stopped, wiping the sweat from his brow. He turned to Pal, panting, and said, “She’s just like all the rest. She doesn’t understand. No one understands.”

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G-Poppers … August 17th, 2018

Today G-Pop wants to talk to his children about slippage.

In olden times they referred to it as “backsliding”–allowing oneself to retreat from principles once held dear–because the temptation of the times changes the atmosphere and weakens the faith.

In the past ten years, because we’ve allowed a streak of meanness to become acceptable behavior, there has been a slippage in the attitudes of the populace toward one another and in the passion for life.

It’s really quite simple.

Those who were once merciful have slipped into being merely open-minded, leaving mercy practically abandoned.

The open-minded people have slipped to being generous–and that normally only to people they know well or who are related to them.

The generous folks have backslidden to kind–hoping that flashing a smile and expressing a willingness to be helpful will be enough without having to commit to action.

And kind people, who used to think up ways to be contributors, have slipped to nice. If at all possible they will offer a pleasant countenance to the world around them–that is, unless something odd happens. At that point, nice people become careful. They will swear that the reason they become careful is because the world is screwed up and “you can’t trust anybody.”

And of course, careful people drop down a degree into suspicious. This is where you start to hear about folks loving their dogs more than people.

And those who were naturally suspicious before degrade to downright grouchy. They don’t even pretend to lead with a sweetness of spirit. It’s too risky.

Of course, there were people who were grouchy to begin with. They have become edgy–ready for a fight, and the edgy people usually find that fight, and end up being bullies.

Bullies have become fighters; fighters are more violent. Much of the violence has led to murder, and now murder has deteriorated to mass killing.

The political parties will blame each other for the problem, but long before there was a President Donald Trump, there was a President Obama, with all of the fussing, arguing and struggling that occurred during his two terms of administration.

G-Pop realizes that you may consider it a “conservative” problem, or perhaps an outgrowth of the liberal media. Since you can’t do anything to change either one of those organizations, G-Pop thinks it might be a good idea for his children to just work on themselves.

Where have you slipped to?

Where have you fallen?

If even 10% of the population would raise their human effort up one notch, to the position they occupied before 2008, there would be such an improvement in the climate of this country that the other 90% would have to take note.

G-Pop wants to tell his children that it’s time to stop backsliding.

There are no signs that the leadership in government, business, education or the church is going to lead a resurgence in civil behavior.

No–it’ll be up to us.

It’ll be up to G-Pop…and all his children.

 

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Jesonian: Lukey 13 … February 17th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3586)

I gave this essay a title.

I don’t very often–but since I planned to refer to the Good Book in Luke the 13th Chapter, I decided to get cute: “Lukey 13.”

Very simply, this is where Jesus explains how the planet functions, progresses and purifies.

The explanation was required because the folks who surrounded Jesus of Nazareth were caught up in politics and blamed the government for all the ills that came their way. This spilled over into their conversation with the “carpenter-turned-preacher.”

They wanted to get his opinion on an event. Pontius Pilate, the governor, had killed a group of people who came to a religious service to offer sacrifice, and were brutally attacked by the Roman Legions–murdered during their ceremony.

The people dramatically cited to Jesus that “the blood of the victims was mingled with the sacrifices.”

They failed to say that the Romans knew these folks to be Zealots, viewing them as terrorists who raided the army and killed infantrymen.

(There are always two sides to a story, usually with neither one being the truth.)

The people wanted Jesus to be enraged. They wanted Jesus to be a nationalist. They wanted Jesus to be a Zionist. He astounds them.

He replies, If you won’t change, you’re next. (The actual wording was, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”)

He asked them if they thought the Galileans who were killed were bad people because it happened to them. He asked if a tower which had recently fallen on innocent folks was punishment for their sins, once again closing with, if you don’t change, you’re next.

What is his message? First, it is impossible to comprehend the ministry of Jesus without realizing that he came to bring understanding to the Natural Order instead of having people believe in mysterious protections from a Supernatural Border.

The Jews thought as long as they were Jews, God should take care of them. They felt no responsibility to the world around them, referring to people who were not Sons of Abraham as “heathens.” They became targets for cultures which were stronger in military might, and in no mood to be called “dogs.”

In a parable, Jesus explains the nature of Nature. He also outlines the nurture of the Father:

You cannot get God’s grace if you do not honor Nature’s place.

Jesus tells a story about a tree. It had leaves, bark and roots. No fruit. This tree was deemed by those in charge to be worthless, and was marked to be cut down.

Consider: although God loves me, He wants me to understand that since I live on Planet Earth, I have to follow the rules of the trees. I am not allowed to take up space, suck out nutrients and just sprout leaves. I am expected to bear fruit.

What is fruit? What defines fruit? “I am trying to improve my life, therefore understand why you are attempting to do the same.”

That’s fruit.

Nature wants to get rid of anything that is not fruitful. Some people might even say that Nature is prepared to get rid of Earth, because its inhabitants are no longer respectful of the system.

Yet let’s talk about you and me. There is a Natural Order and a Supernatural Border. It is impossible to come under the grace of God if you’re not submissive to Earth. And on those occasions when you find yourself erring, and in danger of being eliminated because of your mistake, you will need the Supernatural Border.

There is only one way to get under the protection of God’s mercy: humility.

Yes. Be the first one on your block to know you’ve done something stupid. Repent of it before anyone else even knows you did it, and dip your head in respect to Mother Nature as a way of honoring Father God. When God sees this, He comes to Mother Nature and He says, “Dig and dung.” In other words, let’s not eliminate this person yet. Let’s give him or her a chance. Fertilize with dung.

To put this process in a lexicon we better understand: to gain God’s help, you must humbly admit your weakness and allow Him to send some shit your way so you can grow.

If you’re convinced it’s not your fault, and you reject the shit, get ready for the buzzsaw.

If you’re going to be oblivious, be prepared to be the next one eliminated. But if you honor Nature and the order of things and realize that it’s not the government’s fault–there is no massive plan against spirituality, but rather, misdirection on your own part, which needs to be humbly corrected–then God has the ability to extend His grace, to help you establish your change.

It is a powerful passage. It is our “Lukey 13.”

And if we comprehend its meaning, we have an earthly advantage over the religious fanatics who believe God owes them something, and also the secular world, which contends it can out-muscle the competition.

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G-Poppers … November 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3493)

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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G-Poppers … July 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3367)

Jon close up

G-Pop is fully aware that he’s reached an age when there is a fine line between being colorful and being crazy. Yet there are some things that need to be said, because the integrity of character and moral soul of America are in jeopardy.

It has nothing to do with political parties or whether one group of pundits is more favorable than another. Rather, it has to do with an overriding attitude–that as long as the goal is kept in sight, the means by which we achieve it are somewhat irrelevant.

It came to a head yesterday when G-Pop listened to one of our national leaders proclaim, “I think everybody would do the same thing.”

It hearkened back to a playground perception we used as children, attempting to explain to the adults around us why we chose a particular behavior. You remember:

  1. Everybody was doing it.
  2. I didn’t want to be weird.
  3. It seemed all right–matter of fact, it seemed natural.
  4. There was no real reason not to.
  5. Since everybody was doing it, I didn’t think anyone would get in trouble.

Just as our elders corrected us on such errant thinking, we need to stop, take a deep breath and cease being a nation of children who move on whim and justify it by saying, “What else could I do?”

There is only one advantage to being an adult: you get to make your own decisions.

When you were a child, you were surrounded by pressure, intimidation, and obvious manipulation.

That is supposed to change.

G-Pop wants his children to know that there is a day and time when the only purpose for continuing to live on Earth is to get better–not to rationalize obtuse, repetitive and useless actions.

If you’re not getter better you’re getting “badder.”

And the end result of getting “badder” is that you’re going to be exposed and trumped by those who have a brighter idea.

I don’t care if everybody else is doing something stupid. I don’t care if it seems natural in the moment, if the end result is unnatural.

G-Pop wants his children to stop watching the actions of our leaders and government, and begin to find the inner voice that says, “Let me pause for a minute and find out what’s right.”

G-Pop places no judgment on those who are trying to take us into the depths of uncertainty.

But G-Pop wants his children to realize that just because “everybody would do it” actually makes it suspect, instead of righteous.

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