Salient…July 9th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Strolling down any thoroughfare in 1975, it was highly unlikely that you would see a person dressed in a military uniform unless it was an aging hippie who was donning the garments to protest the whole concept of war.

Soldiering just wasn’t popular. It was not contemptuous, but it was contentious.

In other words, it created so much conflict because of the Vietnam War that people tried to avoid any discussion about army men, marines or sailors.

This continued for many years. Matter of fact, may I say that for most of you reading this, if you encountered a guidance counselor in high school, you were offered many choices on college, technical institutions and even mechanic schools. Then, at the tail end of such a conversation, you might have been given the option of military service.

A last resort.

“He is so screwed up he needs to go into the army.”

“Maybe the marines will straighten him out.”

The military was never considered a fast track to success and was often riddled with guys–and maybe even a gal or two–who “just never found themselves.”

It was a volunteer army for those who volunteered because volunteering for anything else seemed pointless.

These are hard, cold, historical facts, and have nothing to do with the sentiments of this author or even the lasting emotions of the American people. It was just felt that being grateful to a warrior seemed to be promoting the war.

Then there was a change–a needful one.

At first, it was politicians who wanted to pander to their more conservative base.

Then it was ministers in churches, welcoming the fighting men home to their families and friends.

Gradually, a phrase emerged from the lips of the American populace: “Support the troops.”

Then it evolved from this generic form, it has become: “We want to thank you for your service.”

It doesn’t make any difference if it’s President Trump, a game show host, a first grade class or Bernie Sanders–it is now universally executed. Whenever a person in uniform is standing before us, we must pipe up with, “Thank you for your service.”

We have learned to do it. Sometimes it doesn’t even sound sincere. It doesn’t matter. It is the respectful piece of etiquette, which has been inserted into our common, everyday lingo, to express a positive position.

So why can’t we do the same thing over race? Why can’t we start looking at the color of people’s skin, and honor them for surviving their struggles, battles and the ups and downs in being American citizens?

It might take a while–but perhaps we could start off by making eye contact with someone of a different race, and tenderly, through that gaze, communicate that we understand that their journey is more difficult than ours.

After all, we don’t give a nod to the troops because they’re changing light bulbs in the kitchen. That’s what we do. We give appreciation to them because they do and have done what we can’t or won’t do.

They serve. They survive. They use their intellect to protect our freedom.

Why can’t we do this with the black man?

“I want to thank your ancestors for their service to America, even though it has gone unnoticed and unheralded.”

To the Hispanic population:

“Thank you for your industrious nature, which continues to work despite all the criticism you receive.”

To the Native Americans:

“Thank you for allowing us to live on this land which was originally yours–and even though we stole it, you stopped fighting and decided to coexist with us.”

And to those from Asia:

“Thank you for coming to this country and bringing your energy, heart and family values, which we have incorporated into our own lifestyle.”

So here is your salient moment:

Support the troops. Yes, let us rally around those who are prepared to fight for our country.

But perhaps we could take the next two decades, applying the same principle we did to bring necessary respect to the armed services, to learn, once and for all, how to support the groups.

 

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G-Poppers … August 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop’s five-year-old son came strolling over carrying a dirty, beat-up baby blanket with frayed edges, which had been the source of great comfort and solace to the little chap for years.

He handed it to G-Pop and said, “Fix it.”

The blanket did need some help.

The ends were torn and worn from being drug on the ground and any memory of the original color had faded beneath a cloud of general “dirty.”

G-Pop’s son even brought along the family sewing kit to aid in the repair. G-Pop peered at the blanket and then down into the hopeful eyes of his child.

“I don’t need the sewing kit. It won’t help. What I need is a pair of scissors.”

The five-year-old squinted. “Why?”

Why indeed?

G-Pop realized that the ony way to fix the blanket was to carefully take the scissors and meticulously trim off the ripped regions on the perimeter. They could not be fixed. They would never be woven into the one piece of cloth. They were gone.

They were needfully gone. A new border needed to be negotiated. Otherwise, the blanket was worthless.

G-Pop was thinking about that today as he was mulling over the situation in our country.

We are a tattered patchwork, and our ends are frayed. Attempts to sew things together or make them right are useless because the substance to stitch is just not there.

Here’s the truth: No matter how honorable foolish people are in pursuing their goals, the end result is still foolishness.

No matter how many flags are waved for the glory of a cause, if that idea is unrighteous, unfair and bigoted, it needs to cease to exist. It is frayed; it is torn. And it will continue to tear into the other fabric if we allow it to blow in the wind.

It is time for America to bring its security blanket to the forefront, and for us–as “we, the people”–to take scissors and cut away the nonsense.

After all, some things are wrong because God and Mother Nature got together and decided they were wrong. Yes, Science and the Divine often have meetings, and generate or terminate parts of the Earth.

So grab your scissors, starting with your own life, setting an example for those around you, and:

1. Trim back opinions.

Opinions are stop-offs on our way to the truth. To spend too much time touting them is to delay the arrival of common sense.

2. Clip the need to debate.

If the goal of a debate is to find out what is really workable, then perhaps it has merit. If it is to change the minds of those around us by using words, statistics and intimidation, it is fruitless. The time we spend debating could be put to better use by creating.

3. Snip the separations.

If America is a melting pot, let it melt. And while you’re at it, jump in the pan. A stew should be so well-cooked that people have to ask you what kind of concoction it is instead of looking inside and noting a predominance of chicken.

Thus, America. We shouldn’t be identified as white, black, Hispanic, cultural, ethnic, Anglo-Saxon, Asian, male or female.

The blend should be complete.

If you are saying anything before “American” it is contentious, be it African, Asian, Mexican, white or female. Just “American” will do fine.

The tapestry of our country is frayed. The extreme ends cannot be repaired. We must trim them away, allowing a new edge to our common understanding.

 

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G-Poppers…May 8th, 2015

 

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Popper

 

For a very brief season, G-Pop taught a college class.

On opening day, he asked his students to take a quiz. Needless to say, the room was filled with quizzical expressions.

He presented them with 10 questions. He told them that in determining their answers they could take into consideration wealth, poverty, male, female, gay, straight, black, brown, Native American, statistics, history, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Hispanic and white.

This was the test:

Who is more likely…

  1. …to steal something from you?
  2. …to commit violent murder?
  3. …to molest a small child?
  4. …to open a casino in Nebraska?
  5. …to take their children to Disney World?
  6. …to graduate with honors in mathematics from MIT?
  7. …to be in the military?
  8. …to be a billionaire?
  9. …to be a genius?
  10. …to believe in God?

Even though there were a few mumbles and grumbles from the student body, all completed the test and turned it in to G-Pop.

The next day when they arrived, he passed the tests back to them unmarked.

Then he said, “All of you completed the test. All of you, in some way, shape or form, decided to take into consideration the factors I mentioned in determining your answers. I’m going to allow you to grade your own papers and give yourself a score. I will tell my answers and you can evaluate how well you did.

Let’s start with #1.

Who is more likely to steal something? The answer is a thief.

Commit a violent murder? A murderer.

How about molest a small child? A pedophile.

Who will be opening that casino in Nebraska? A venture capitalist.

And of course, the person who would take their children to Disney World is a good parent.

Who’s the math whiz? An excellent student.

Who would join the military? A patriot.

A billionaire? A budding successful entrepreneur.

How about a genius? I would say a hard worker.

Is there some type of individual who’s more likely to believe in God? Yes. A person of faith.

G-Pop paused. All the students had their eyes glued to their papers, reviewing their answers. A point had been made.

For after all, social justice does not begin when we recognize blatant bigotry in the world.

It starts when we acknowledge the prejudice in our own hearts.

 

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Boiler plate 

The Peep Show… September 1, 2012

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She was about to begin her comedy routine. She lifted her arms, extended them toward the audience and declared with great jubilance, “I am so glad to be here in front of all my peeps!” This was followed by a cheer from the congregated horde.

It reminded me of a note I received in my email yesterday. It was from a fellow in the Buckeye State who had been deliberating whether to have me come in to share with his congregation. He had come to a decision. He felt that it was best to “pass” on the opportunity. Even though he found my material to be intelligent, powerful and poignant to our times, he believed that my outreach was a poor match for his particular gathering.

We have become a nation obsessed with the religion of our own individuality.

Even though we don’t want to establish this uniqueness by pursuing new efforts and goals, we find our value in being set apart by our preferences. It’s why the Republicans and Democrats scramble around trying to hit the right buttons to bring the favor of various portions of the electorate. For after all, the theory is that Hispanic voters want different things from black voters and senior citizens have special requests which are quite divergent from those of young people. We keep trying to play to an audience of our peeps.

It creates a three-point philosophy that continues to separate us off into tinier and tinier segments instead of coagulating our nation into a force for good. The minute you believe that different people have different needs which must be handled differently, you create the following climate:

1. “I believe I am normal.” Even though you may try to please other people and reach out to meet their desires, no one is of a mindset to think that these other people actually have a better way of doing things. Otherwise we would adopt some of their practices for our own. The minute you believe you have “peeps,” you will start to reluctantly try to find a way to reach everyone else, while privately wondering why they aren’t more “normal”–like you.

2. “Because you have preferences which are different from mine, try as I might to be magnanimous, I view these variations as weaknesses which I must adapt to in an attempt to gain your favor.” If we believe that people have great chasms of difference from us, we will have a tendency, human as we are, to perceive them as underlings. I know there are those who will disagree with these observations, contending that they have the toleration to experience diversity without drawing conclusions, but honestly, that would only be true if some of the discoveries being made ended up being part of their personal philosophy.

3. “Because I believe that I am normal, and that your preferences, though permissible, are somewhat weaker, my attempts to reach you may come off as condescending.” It would be similar to playing hip-hop music in front of a black audience and hiring a mariachi band for an Hispanic gathering. Yet that’s exactly what we do. Just like high school–juniors feel they are superior to sophomores. It isn’t true, but it gives a sense of exhilaration to lord it over an underclassman. The minute you assume that any group of people will react uniformly in a particular way when given certain stimulus, you are not only condescending, you are certainly guilty of prejudice.

So do you see the problem? Once we believe that each one of us has a particular “bird of a feather” that we are “flocking together” with we are in danger of awkwardness and even bigotry towards people who are different from us. Here’s what I would like to say to that comedian who felt she had found her “peeps,” to the Republicans and Democrats who are constantly trying to plump up their message to reach a variety of clumps, and to that fellow in Ohio who felt he had a pulse on his group of people, and understood their boundaries:

It is the job of every person born of woman to find a way to be a human being instead of just following the example of their culture.

We are all heart, soul, mind and strength.

Since I know that, I gear my message and life to the knowledge that our emotions are touched by commonality. In other words, everybody hurts. Everybody gets older. Everybody needs to learn to laugh at himself. Everybody would gain greater power by ceasing to worry.

Since I know we all have a soul, our spirits are enriched by a loving God who anticipates that we can do better. It doesn’t do any good to preach just a loving God, or certainly to present a disapproving one. Since God is your Father, whether you’re black, white, red or yellow, you want Him to love you and you’re glad He thinks you’ve got more to come.

We all have a brain, and our minds are renewed by seeing what works–not merely by education, conversation or job training. We’re human beings. We need to see what works to allow it to find root in our consciousness.

And finally, we all have a body–and that particular physical unit is enlivened by finding simpler ways to achieve good health. Don’t complicate it. Make it easy.

I don’t care what audience I’m in front of. I don’t care if they’re young, old, black, white or from another planet. As long as I don’t believe in this foolish, short-sighted pursuit of categorizing off our race into little ant hills, I have a chance of reaching them.

Because quite bluntly, folks, I don’t believe I am normal. In some ways I fear normalcy because it has a tendency to settle for mediocrity. I don’t think your preferences are weaknesses. Matter of fact, I am curious if many of them might be better than mine. And I will never be condescending to you because I have too many foibles of my own that can easily be pointed out as evidence of my inadequacy.

But I will address your heart. We will find common ground.

I will speak to your soul. I will tell that soul about a loving God who really believes His children can do better.

I will infiltrate your mind by allowing you to see things that are working instead of just advancing theories of politics and theology.

And I will be vulnerable to you by telling you that my body is in need of improvement and I am on a quest to ascertain simpler ways to discover good health.

Finally, I have no peeps. Just people. And all of them are my family … if I make myself available.

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Don’t Plant What You Won’t Eat … March 10, 2012

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It’s all about finding the right tree.

Every Wednesday morning, I slip away for three hours–just to have some time with paper, pen and my soul, to muse over ideas, feelings and consider the situation and ongoing progress of one mortal named Jonathan Richard Cring. I climb into my van and drive to a shopping area with a parking lot, find a nice tree and park beneath. I open the windows a little bit to allow air in to refresh my brain, and more importantly, I welcome my thoughts in the spirit that is within me–to show me some of the highlights of my heart, and perhaps even expose some foolishness in my mind.

While so perched last Wednesday, a young Hispanic man came and stood next to my vehicle. I thought he was about to ask me for some sort of assistance, when instead, he bellowed to another fellow across the parking lot, asking that gentleman for sixty cents for bus fare. The man refused. I turned around to look and saw that the individual he had beckoned to was also Hispanic. Thinking I was going to be next in line, I reached in my wallet to provide some immediate help to my friend. But instead of asking me, he turned on his heel and quickly walked away, disappearing into the horizon.

It perturbed me. It didn’t take me long to realize that the reason this fine ,young man resisted asking me was that he had literally sized me up as a fat older white guy, who was probably going to give him more grief than change. I moved from perturbed to pissed. There’s no other word for it. It just made me angry that we live in a society where boxes are provided and it is expected that the good citizenry will climb within the enclosure, discover their assigned seating and occupy space.

I don’t work that way. I was frustrated that a political, religious and social structure in this country forbade this young Hispanic man from feeling the liberty of sponging off of all races equally. I mean, if you’re going to beg, why become picky? So I was a little angry at him, too.

It’s so ridiculous that we continue to subsist in a less than productive environment, surrendering to the “standards” around us without ever stomping our feet and refusing to participate in the farce. I am not a fat older white man; I just resemble one. I am not a conservative–I am not a liberal; I am not religious just because I love Jesus. But how can you communicate that in a marketplace that works off of five-second sound bites and subsists on You Tube videos?

In the midst of the brawl taking place in my brain, the young man reappeared in the near distance, walking away from me at an angle towards a nearby store. He was about twenty-five yards away, but certainly going a different direction. I had to do something to break the spell. I rolled down my window and  yelled. “Hey! Com’mere!” I motioned with my hand for him to come my way.

He stopped, peered at me–and I know a hundred different scenarios must have run through his mind about what this invitation might mean. So I motioned again, and this time he slowly and cautiously ambled my way. He arrived about five feet from my door, not willing to come any closer, and said, “What do you want?”

“Did you need some help?” I asked.

The mere word “shock” would not describe the expression that crossed his face. He still was not convinced that my motivations were pure, but was so overwhelmed by curiosity that he tentatively replied, “Uh … yeah. I need sixty cents for the bus.”

So I reached into my wallet, pulled out two one dollar bills and handed them his way. “Here’s sixty cents for the bus and a little something to buy a drink to make the ride more refreshing.”

He stared at the money for a long moment, as if wondering if it were going to explode. Then he gingerly reached, took the two one dollar bills and said, with a bit of tear in his voice, “Thank you.”

I punctuated. “Hey, listen. You came by me and asked a guy across the parking lot for money because … well, I guess because he looked like you. I guess we old fat white guys can be intimidating and maybe a little bit cranky. But every once in a while, keep in mind that God is wearing a mask that doesn’t resembles what we think.”

I don’t think he totally understood, but the two dollars in his hand helped to clarify the point. He thanked me again and was off about his business.

I am tired of living in a society that sizes up the world around it and decides how everything should be. Here, let me say it aloud:

  • I don’t know how everything should be.
  • I don’t know whether what I think is right or wrong.
  • I don’t know if half the things I believe will sustain the test of time.
  • I don’t want to be mistreated, so I try never to do anything that resembles or is motivated by a foul attitude.
  • Here you go–I don’t plant what I won’t eat. It’s foolish. If you hate corn, don’t plant corn. And if you hate to be judged by other people, do yourself a favor and never judge anyone.
  • If you hate scrutiny, stop scrutinizing.
  • If you despise boring conversations, cease to contribute your boring, repetitive notions.
  • Don’t preach what you can’t prove. Stop using the Bible–or any other book of morality–to justify why you believe in things that you basically don’t even follow yourself.
  • Don’t teach what you don’t observe. There’s nothing more hypocritical than an English instructor using bad grammar.
  • And finally, don’t take what you haven’t given. If you’re known to be a stingy sort, always make sure you have prepared for rainy days with good provision, because you sure don’t deserve to ask anyone for anything. But if there is the possibility that you might become vulnerable, then it’s a good idea to sow two bucks to an Hispanic kid who thinks you’re just an old fat white guy.

There is nothing more simple in life than merely treating other people the way we want to be treated. And there is nothing more complicated than trying to apply two sets of rules–one for yourself and another for those who pass by.

It was a good Wednesday morning. I didn’t jot as many things down on my paper as I inscribed into my heart, reaffirming once again:

Don’t plant what you won’t eat.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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