Sit Down Comedy … July 5th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is not so much what as it is how.

Knowing what needs to be done may be insightful but discovering how to do it is the essence of wisdom.

In our time, the argument over what our problems are is quickly overthrown by a ferocious debate over how to address them.

I put this to the test.

While working on my latest novel, I came across a scene where two of my characters are embroiled in a disagreement. I sat down and wrote the entire passage with back-and-forth dialogue which was laced with animosity. At no time did I introduce foul language.

So the reader, after finishing this particular interchange, might well be alarmed by the severity of the debate—but certainly not frightened that the two souls involved were going to launch into anything other than aggravation.

Then I sat down and rewrote the scene, except in the midst of the fiery comments I inserted expletives, like “damn, shit, fuck and hell.”  As I moved along from line to line, I realized that the discussion had changed, and was now on the verge of violence. In other words, it would have been very easy to end with a murder.

The what was the same. The standoff was identical.

But how it was implemented changed it from a fussy situation to a dangerous dilemma.

In the pursuit of trying to get attention, gain influence and bring fame and fortune in our direction, we may be guilty of taking situations which could be handled more simply, and complicating them merely for the purpose of making ourselves look righteous.

Consider this:

Is it possible that an aging, well-seasoned politician who earned his stripes decades ago might not know to keep his hands to himself, and that instead of sexual assault, it just might be innocent ignorance?

Could it be that in trying to establish reasonable relationships with notorious dictators we could represent our willingness to sit down and prattle over the issues without jokingly referring to the two parties as being “in love?”

Might we possibly consider the myriad of problems that create gun violence rather than cursing all guns or insisting that the situation is just “the criminal mind?”

It may be admirable to know what a situation is, but it is divinely inspired to find the best way how to manage it.

I think this even goes into our relationships with government and faith.

Is it possible that what John Adams and George Washington considered to be of primary concern in 1790 might be better thought through by more educated souls in 2019?

And suffice it to say that a book that was written before Christ and some that were written after his birth might certainly do well to be mulled over and discussed in more detail before we decide on how to conduct our spirited decisions today.

Knowing what is good. But choosing how to solve it is better.

And of course, the best is knowing that the what and the how always have to be tempered by the why.


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Good News and Better News… December 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-december-5

Jesus is a lifestyle.

Every time we try to focus on the “Christ” of his Earth journey and turn him into a religion, it seems clunky, fabricated, forced, unreal and nearly irrational.

It’s similar to when we try to make George Washington appear to be a statesman. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were rebels. They were revolutionaries. They actually found it difficult to stop their struggle and create a government.

The early disciples had the same problem when it came to Jesus.

Jesus taught them how to have abundant life, good cheer, tolerance, an expansive talent base and generosity. He did not instruct them to maintain the integrity of Judaism with the purpose of including the Old Testament.

So every time we try to present a Judeo-Christian image, we lose the lifestyle of Jesus–which is the essence of the Gospel.

Our church services today have more of Catholicism in them than Nazareth.

So let’s look at it from the aspect of definitions:

Religion: an attempt to find God in ancient scrolls, mysticism and tradition, feeling that these sacraments are the divine path to reach the Creator.

Church: a system we have set up within this religious thinking, to define our style of worship, welcoming a contingency of people who are comfortable within the format.

Christian: a doctrine that has been established which includes the teachings of Jesus, but focuses equally on the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, to formulate a plan of salvation based upon the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.

Then we have Jesonian.

Jesonian is a return to the simplicity of the lifestyle of Jesus, who told us that his “ways were easy and his burden was light,” and that the purpose for pursuing his values was to “find rest for your soul.”

So the religious system permeating our society today is a core belief in the atonement of Christ on the cross, the folklore of Judaism, mingled with Catholicism, punctuated with Anglo-Saxon traditions and peppered with American patriotism.

It is not the lifestyle of Jesus.

It lacks the personal responsibility, the joy, the freedom and the experimentation that he promoted as he walked among humanity.

The good news is that Jesus wants to keep things simple and easy.

The better news is that human beings are much more productive and happy when things are simple and easy.

 

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John, Tom, Pat and Ben … February 8, 2012

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Just four guys, rebels at heart.

They shared a common anger, expressed individually and tuned to their personal interests. Their primary cause was that all four of them–John Adams, Tom Jefferson, Pat Henry and Ben Franklin–despised King George.

They were radical insurrectionists who were under suspicion for treason, desiring to separate themselves from the existing government. The only reason we know their names at all is because they were successful. Had they failed to unplug themselves from merry old England, they would have gone down in history as a footnote for fools and a parenthetical remark of attempted revolution that failed.

We admire them. We call them the “founders of our country.” But as you study them, you find they are four distinctly different gentlemen. Their only mutual thrust is a desire for independence. Unfortunately, they make one major mistake: they free themselves without freeing everybody.

They do exactly what every government proposes, which eventually pronounces its doom. They focus on one group or another–with the intention that when they get in power, they will aid those who have been forgotten.

For John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were anti-slave. Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson were from the Commonwealth of Virginia, where slavery was permitted. The four did not discuss the issue because any debate would have blocked the progress of their cause to gain freedom from the British. And hypocrisy entered the procedure–because Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves, insisted that “all men were created equal” when he penned his purpose and declaration. Any idea, no matter how noble, that allows the introduction of hypocrisy will eventually come apart at the seams. How much longer would it have taken them, in their Continental Congress, to resolve the issue of slavery once and for all, and begin their new nation as free men and women across the board?

I don’t know.

I certainly will not argue with anyone who would claim that such a goal would have thrown an irreparable wrench into the works. But we delayed the discussion–and the war over it–by a mere eighty-five years. And we changed it from a deliberation of men of high ideals into a future time, when less motivated individuals struggled over the issue with guns and cannon–and bloodied our soil.

Can we learn anything from John, Tom, Pat and Ben? I think we can.

If you are a Republican, you cannot say, “We’re going to take care of the rich so they can give to the poor and provide jobs, and then, once we’re elected we’ll come in and sew up the safety net as required to provide for the needy.” We’re smarter than that. If rich people gave to poor people, then OPEC would drop the prices on oil because the American family is struggling.

The Democrats, on the other hand, say they will take care of the poor by forcibly inflicting taxation without sufficient representation on the rich, and then try later to get them to join in the motivation of increasing jobs in the economy. Of course, one problem with that is that the reason that people are poor is not always as simple as mere financial lack, and once you start dumping America’s wealth down a hole called poverty, you may very well find that the pit is bottomless.

No, we have to be a little smarter than John, Tom, Pat and Ben. They should have resolved the issue of slavery as the nation was founded, but instead, wrote into the Constitution that the value of a black man/woman/child was a fraction of what the Lord intended. There was never a breath of peace from that moment on about that particular issue–honestly, even to this day. For a nation founded on slavery still finds it difficult to abandon all of its bigotry.

This is why I’m touring this country with a very simple message. “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

When people first hear it, they give a nod of assent, as if it is a concept already in place, not needing punctuation. But then, as they think about it and realize that each one of us has negotiated our deal for personal independence on the backs and detriment of others, they often become resistant. Because when Jesus told us to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” he presented an answer–but in the form of a puzzle. How much do I love myself? Should I love myself more? Do I love myself first and then love others? Is it a simultaneous action?

The six words, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” becomes the key that unlocks that paradox: we just don’t go forward on anything unless it includes  everybody. That means, in this present political climate, we cannot solve the nation’s problems by taking the side of rich OR poor, but must package ourselves together as total equals. It’s how this country was conceived–and even though occasionally it may be to our distaste, displeasure or contrary to our personal choices and beliefs, it is the only way to maintain the integrity of the United States of America.

John, Tom, Pat and Ben were so anxious to become successful revolutionists that they left out freedom for some people. We paid a horrible price for that mistake. Let’s not do it again. Whether the issue is immigration, abortion, taxes, states’ rights, the economy, jobs or international treaty negotiations, let us correct the mistake of our forefathers by living out the true message of liberty: NoOne is better than anyone else.

Is it possible that if the black race had been freed along with the thirteen colonies, we would have built an even greater country than we have today? Is it possible that in freeing the slaves, our conscience towards the Native Americans would have been more tenderized? No one knows for sure. But we do know that freedom provided for the few offers those remaining souls only the option of war to achieve their own. Most unfortunate.

2012. Let us, as spiritual people, rise up and begin to believe that “NoOne is better than anyone else.”  For I do contend that John, Tom, Pat and Ben would look back at our history and realize that morning in July, 1776, there was one more line that should have been added to the document before signing:

NoOne is better than anyone else.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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