Survival Kit … September 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2010)

buckskinHonest to God–he was dressed in  buckskin.

He had long hair and a bushy-wushy beard, giving him the appearance of a bear that had been almost completely swallowed by a deer sporting “frillies” on its hide. He was explaining, on the National Geographic Channel, the three elements necessary to survive in the wilderness.

To my surprise, toothpaste and deodorant did not make the list. The essentials, by my mountain man’s standards, were a knife, a ball of string and matches.

Hmmm. If I had a knife, I would also need bandages and antibiotic cream. I would never be able to get the string off the ball, and in no time at all, my matches would be wet and useless.

Yes, I am willing to admit publicly that my survival time in the wilderness would be brief and distressed.

But I am cognizant that there is a survival kit for just being a good human.

I think the first thing you need is a sense of self–preferably not exaggerated, by the way, and certainly not depleted by a feeling of inadequacy. But if you can emotionally muster the courage to admit who you are and who you aren’t, you probably tackle a goodly percent of the difficulty involved in remaining sane.

Yes, I do think there’s a point where we all have to say, “I am not scared of me.”

If we are secretly frightened of our own motivations, iniquities and predilections, we will work much too hard to disguise our frailties. That is why, when I am in front of an audience, I make it clear to them who they’re gettin’.

A sense of self is one of the greatest scents we possess, to draw other humans to our trail.

The second thing in the survival kit for being a better person is a sense of humor. Do you understand the purpose?

It just lets folks know, “I am not scared to fail.”

It’s quite ridiculous to be frightened of something that is inevitable. As far as I know, failure is the short-cut to success if it’s used wisely, applied correctly and walked away from with good cheer.

A sense of humor is the greatest sign of mental health.

And the final thing that I feel needs to go into the knapsack of our journey on earth is a sense of God.

Now, my definition of “a sense of God” is different from most theologians. I don’t believe we discover God in the Bible, but actually use the Good Book to confirm our revelations.

I don’t think we retrieve God through prayer–that exercise works best when we’re already well-acquainted with the Person we’re contacting.

No–I think we get a sense of God when we can truthfully proclaim, “I am not scared of people.”

For to dislike people, disdain them, ignore them, judge them or always try to change them into your image is to aggravate the mind of God and cause His Spirit to depart from your midst.

For it says quite clearly that “whenever we’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, we’ve done it unto Him.” The parallel is clear: to do good unto God means to eliminate any bigotry we might have toward people.

So there you go.

Even though I am not clad in buckskin and gnawing on beef jerky, I am giving you my survival kit for passing through the wilderness we call life:

  • A sense of self: I am not scared of me.
  • A sense of humor: I am not scared of failure.
  • A sense of God: I am not scared of people.

It may not book you on the National Geographic Channel as a wilderness wrangler, but it sure will qualify you … as a great pathfinder.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Triggered… April 11, 2013

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gunI probably should never have done the gig.

I was twenty-four years old, and through a combination of my pride and pressure from a new friend, I agreed to do a concert in the park for the homeless in downtown Baltimore as an outreach for his ministry to the poor. He had jokingly suggested that our group perform, figuring that we were too “prissy” to do such an event. I leaped in and volunteered our services.

So we dressed up in our duds, deciding that we were not going to give these folks any less of a show than anyone else. We set up in the park and drove to situate our van in an alley near a meat market, where the proprietor had graciously offered us a space.

Just as soon as we stepped out of our van and were heading toward the park, a young man emerged from behind a dumpster, brandishing a knife and demanding our money. He couldn’t have been any more than sixteen years old, a hundred and nothing pounds, with eyes bloodshot and obviously an overabundance of nervous tics.

Fortunately, I had told both girls in my group to be sure to leave their money behind, so we wouldn’t get started giving out dollar bills to the homeless, ending up with them lining up for donations instead of to hear our creations. I stuck twelve dollars in my shoe to buy hotdogs after the concert.

As I stared at the young man with his shaky hands and squeaky voice, I felt no fear whatsoever. It’s not that I’m extremely brave–it’s just that he was so lacking in intimidation, even though I knew he was still dangerous because he was wielding the knife.

I motioned for the girls to get behind me, and for some reason, that action totally confused him. Before I could explain to him that we had no money, he looked to his right and left, shuffled his feet and suddenly ran away. When I arrived at the park, my friend who was in charge of the outreach said that I should have had a gun.

You see, I’ve heard this all my life. “You’re traveling on the road. You need a gun to protect you.”

So I asked him–where would I put it? He looked at me confused, as if he didn’t understand my meaning. Here’s my meaning: that day, in the back alley in Baltimore, if I had put a gun in my glove compartment, it would have been of no use to me. If I had it under my seat, it likewise would have made no difference, unless I planned to run away from my perpetrator to dive for my van. The only way a gun would have been of any help would be to carry it. So it begs the question–if we’re going to insist that guns are valuable for personal security, are we also prepared for everybody to walk around wearing holsters, with their pistols at their side? Because short of that, a gun locked in a box in your house, or secured in your closet, will do very little to help you during a home invasion, when people bust through your door and order you to lay down on the floor.

Here’s what I know about guns: guns shoot and guns kill. Guns don’t protect–because unless you lead with the fact that you’re “packing heat,” your gun will be far from you in your hour of need.

What I used that day to avoid being stabbed by a twitchy addict was calmness, level-headed thinking and maintaining eye contact. Honestly, it was better than a knife because I would have had no knowledge of how to involve myself in such a struggle. And to make a citizen’s arrest, pulling a gun on a person with a knife, would certainly be an over-reaction.

I think guns for recreational use–hunting or for display in a collection–are somewhat intriguing. But a gun will not help you in the middle of an attack from someone who has decided to do harm.

In that situation, your best trigger is an intelligent spirit.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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