Barack Romney … July 20, 2012

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Or is it Mitt Obama?

Either way, the two men are identical because the path available to them and accessible to their Presidential aspirations is already pre-determined.

Basically it comes down to wars and taxes. Yes, we are holding a very expensive election in this country to determine who will be in charge of the guns and bombs and how the revenue will be levied, collected and distributed.

If you are a Republican, you contend that there is evil in the world that needs to be uprooted–if necessary, by force. If you happen to be of the Democrat persuasion, you don’t see the world quite as black and white, but instead, feel compelled to use military force more sparingly and with less obvious destruction and financial loss.

Likewise, if you’re a Republican, you think taxes should be lessened, with money being given back to the people, hoping that the electorate will be inspired by their sudden burst of financial gain, to become consumers and generous towards others. On the other hand, the Democrats are not quite as optimistic about the integrity of the populace and wish to take a bit more tax from them, to ensure that the basic needs of the less fortunate will be addressed.

Wars and taxes.

But on the larger issues of the economy, diplomacy, and energy consumption, the United States finds itself somewhat at the mercy of events.

It happened in 2001 when a plan was hatched in a cave in Afghanistan to attack the United States with its own airplanes. There were three targets: the World Trade Center, to roust about the economy; the Pentagon, to make a symbolic statement against our military; and the Unites States Capitol, to disrupt our government. Even though only one-third of the plan was fulfilled, with the Pentagon being damaged but not destroyed and the Capitol spared by the heroism of common citizens on an airplane, it was enough to send us on a spin, which seven years later, led to a complete economic collapse.

It wasn’t because the World Trade Center was destroyed or even that three thousand people were killed in the atrocity. It was the fact that these devious plotters had an understanding that the American public would respond to this piece of treachery in three predictable ways:

  • First, we would become furious.
  • Second, because we are needy for foreign oil and dependent on other nations for loans, we would make ourselves vulnerable through our fury and overextend ourselves in actions of retribution which we could not pay for.
  • And finally, we would be drunk on our own sense of history and mission, insisting that we are the greatest nation in the world, even though there has been some slippage and repairs and renovation are required.

Osama bin Laden and all of his crew took it for granted that America would become furious, while still needy, and drunk on its own sense of self-importance.

We fell into the trap. We unintelligently believed that the attack was about what happened on 9/11, instead of realizing that the true monstrous deed was to get the American culture to over-react, sending us into a permanent spin. We accommodated our enemies.

The end result is that we have temporarily lost the ability to effectively remedy our situation, and instead, have begun to believe that the problems that face us are due to social immorality or over-spending for the needy.

We have lost our way.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s Barack or Mitt. As long as we continue to insist that we are something we are not, remain angry at the world around us while still needy for its goods, we will continue to plummet in both our fiscal power and our physical presence.

What would make a difference? What kind of leader would we need to choose to pull us out of this nose dive? We would need an individual who would tell us that we must stop being furious–and turn around.

Yes, to continue in the same direction we are heading, arrogantly pursuing a path of self-righteous anger about our situation, is to place us careening towards a cliff and a fall to our death. We must turn around.

Although people debate about guns in this country, the issue is not whether we have guns or not. Actually, the Canadians have more guns per capita than the people of the United States. The difference is, the Canadians aren’t furious. Logic tells us that if we were at a bar and someone was drunk and angry, we would not allow him to have a gun, even if we felt we were taking away his personal freedom.

No, the problem is not guns–it is that we have a nation that believes it has a God-given right to be angry. We require leadership that gently spanks our rump for being so frustrated and childish and tells us to get over it. What has happened in our world is not pleasant at all, but being furious about it and seeking revenge is neither spiritual nor productive.

The first message of any good leader in this situation should be, “Turn around. Stop being mad.”

The second thing this imaginary leader would have to bring forth is to ask each and every American to deal with the facts. We are under the thumb of OPEC because we use too much oil. We cannot possibly produce enough oil to satisfy our needs by digging all over our country. So we need to find other alternatives as quickly as possible, making it a national priority. Hybrid cars should be subsidized by the government and made available at less cost than gasoline cars. We should encourage people to “go green” rather than presenting the option as if it’s some sort of “hippie” fetish, like preferring tofu.

We should understand–the world’s resources and population are tilted to the east. We are a minority on our own planet, and therefore should learn how to deal with nations and cultures that are alien to our sensibilities.

A great President would demand that we deal with the facts instead of sitting around like a bunch of children on our birthday, making wishes as we blow out the candles.

And finally, this imaginary soul who would occupy the Oval Office should insist that we cease being drunk on our own self-reliance and touting of history, and instead, begin to focus on excellence in every portion of our efforts. We should start with education, move into production, spread into the arts and culminate in our own unique families. Without excellence, we will not be able to compete simply because we have George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in our lineage. We do not need anyone to retell our history. What we require are people to rise up from the mediocrity and become history makers.

As long as this country is furious, needy and drunk on its own conceit, it won’t matter who you put in Washington, D.C. The results will be the same because we will be at the mercy of the world around us and trapped in our own inefficiency.

It is time for quality management in this country, which demands we turn around from our anger, that we deal with the facts of our neediness and begin to become more self-sufficient–and finally, that we focus on excellence in the moment instead of having marching bands playing patriotic songs to remind us of better times.

Barack Romney. If he is elected, he will deal only with wars and taxes, leaving us at the mercy of a world twirling and progressing in ways that we don’t quite comprehend.

Is our country ready to recant blind rage, repent of excess and remove frustration? I’m not sure. But until we are, we will spend all of our time arguing about abortion, gay marriage, contraception … and which one of the pretty boys we’re trying to elect can eat the most apple pie.

   

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The Muddle Class… May 19, 2012

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I do believe I was in the ninth grade–a freshman. At our school the class was called Civics. It was a required course taught to instill  an understanding of how the American form of government functions and also to do a little bit of flag–waving to convince us, as future tax-payers, how fabulous the setup truly is.

It’s called checks and balances. You know it well: the executive branch, headed by the President; the legislative, by Congress, and the judicial, mainly referring to the Supreme Court. I suppose I could talk about our history and say that this particular organization seems to function–but the lethargy, competition and frustration that is produced through the process holds back progress to such an extent that it is often nearly lethal to human causes.

It’s because we believe strongly in this country that we need a middle. We want a middle class, we extol the value of middle-of-the-road music, we love the happy medium (just another name for the compromised middle), and we’ve even established a world called “middle management,” where people who have not yet excelled to executive level can still feel a boost of confidence that they are no longer working on the floor with the serfs.

The problem with the middle is that it creates a jealousy for the top, and too often, a disrespect for what lies beneath. The checks and balances envisioned by our forefathers was constructed in a time when individual thinking was supreme, and being linked to a party or clump of beliefs was secondary. In other words, as long as every person actually thinks for himself and is not responding to the demands of an organization, then debate, challenge and conversation can occur on issues, resulting in some sort of agreement. But if your allegiance is primarily to your cause instead of reasonability, then your particular “flavor of the month” can dig in its heels and halt progress.

I will tell you what the problem is with the legislative branch of our government–you have nearly 535 or so men and women in one building, wishing they could be President–wanting to do the bidding of the President, or deciding to do everything they can to discredit that President. They are jealous of the executive branch and therefore can use their vote to pout.

Let’s move on to the judicial arm of the government. When I was a young man, the politics of a judge appointed to the Supreme Court was quite private, and whether the individual was conservative or liberal was a better-kept secret, with each person who received the honor promising to judge cases on merit instead of political swing. That is gone. The Supreme Court has lost its meaning because it’s just as political as Congress.

So as both political parties try to extol the beauty of honoring and respecting the middle class as the true by-product of America’s governing style, the middle class instead becomes the muddle class–lacking the integrity of being satisfied, but also lacking mercy towards those who have not yet achieved solvency. This is why middle management, in a company, is filled with some of the most nasty, cantankerous pencil=pushers you will ever find. They are discontented that they are not upper management, and also disgusted with those who work beneath them because they once held those jobs and feel that they are menial and meaningless.

If you will allow me to advance a theory, here’s the problem. Right now, in this country, we are trying to develop a philosophy based on the facts provided. Therefore, we are always changing our philosophy just due to circumstances, which can frankly often be temporary. America has developed a “moveable philosophy,” and because of that, all we have to do to become befuddled, frustrated, angry and unwilling to cooperate is to be confronted with a new set of hassles that contradict and challenge our previous conclusions.

Consider this: we just finish with the issue of civil rights for our black citizens, battling, arguing and even shedding blood over the issue, and then, before we can even take a deep breath, here comes the issue of gay rights. Rather than taking what we learned through the civil rights movement during the 1960’s, we act like we’re reinventing the wheel when it comes to civil liberties. We fail to honor a basic philosophy. Bluntly, we do NOT hold it to be self-evident that all men are created equal, as Jefferson insisted. We are continually looking at similar issues and acting like they’re brand new problems.

Let’s bring it into the normal household. If my oldest son has a curfew of eleven o’clock and I discover, that eleven o’clock is too late for him to be out because of the temptations available and I decide to change his curfew to ten-fifteen, it is ridiculous for me to start all over again with an eleven o’clock curfew with my next son. Have I learned anything through the experience with my first-born? Have I developed any concepts, attitudes and notions that are transferable to the next situation?

Therefore it is not an issue of checks and balances nor whether we have a middle class. The problem with our vision is that whenever anything new comes up, we never consider our history while honoring our philosophy, and applying both yardsticks to measure out wisdom to our new situation. So there you have it. History, our philosophy, action–the correct order and it is the way to get things done using the gravitas of our journey.  Instead, we try to develop a new philosophy for everything based upon the facts provided rather than adjusting the facts provided to our well-established, trusted and tested philosophy.

I have very little conflict in my life. It is not because conflict is not available. I deal with hundreds and hundreds of people every week–a built-in formula for stress (or even a coronary). But I don’t look at every person I meet as a new problem or even a new situation. I take these people into my life based upon an established philosophy and allow them to fit into that existing Magna Carta of tried-and-tested behavior. I took a combination of Thomas Jefferson’s “all men are created equal” and the suggestion of Jesus–“do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and I came up with MY core of conduct: “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

So if I were in Washington, D.C., the checks and balances would work for me. I would not feel I was better than the people who elected me, and I wouldn’t be jealous of someone who had achieved a higher office. In my soul, I have accepted the fact that no one is better than anyone else. But absent that fireball of intense understanding inside my soul, I begin to try to adjust everything I do to the information that is right in front of me. In that case, I not only become confused over the statistics and data, but bewildered and angry that nothing seems to be working.

I don’t care if you’re a Republican and I don’t care if you’re a Democrat. But I will tell you this–if the soul of your philosophy is not the precious idealism of “NoOne is better than anyone else,” you will eventually clump and muddle things up by protecting your cause instead of creating a cause to protect those in need. I do not extol any system unless it honors a central truth and holds that truth to be not only self-evident, but well-practiced.

So you can debate about Mitt Romney or Barack Obama all you want to. Our government will be at a stand-still as long as we are trying to find a middle ground that just becomes a muddled mess of confused, conflicting opinions. Sooner or later, both parties–all Americans–and everyone who lives within our borders need to agree on the lessons of our history and hold dear a common philosophy about how to move forward. We can debate how “NoOne is better than anyone else.” We can argue about the best method to treasure that particular gold nugget. But to proceed forward with half of our country believing one thing about humanity and the other half of our country believing another thing about humanity is to produce a muddle class that has no idea which direction to go. Going up seems impossible; going down sounds like hell.

Here is my suggestion–tell me your core philosophy and I can tell you if we’re going to be able to work shoulder-to-shoulder towards the common good. For me, if someone contends that “some people are just better than other people,” I can love that person but I cannot work with him. Because for every reason you can come up with that some individuals are better than others, I can tell you that holding that position is always the first fruits of bigotry.

So how do we get OUT of the muddle class? Somewhere along the line, as Uncle Tom Jefferson told us, we must hold some truths to be self-evident. Otherwise we debate the statistics and twist them in our own direction, instead of using our philosophy to determine how we will address the present possibility. 

   

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

Without a Net … February 4, 2012

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I met Imogene and Anton on New Year’s Eve in Sarasota, Florida, many years ago after sharing in a local church with my group, Soul Purpose.  We had stopped in at the International House of Pancakes to break a few eggs and eat an omelet to welcome in the New Year. It had been a great year, so I was feeling particularly festive, and was even in such a silly mood that I decided to mingle all the syrups on the table onto my pancakes to determine what flavor would emerge.

Now, the reason I noticed Imogene and Anton was that they were such small-boned individuals. I mean, I knew they were adults—he had a beard and she had all the girl things.  But they were so tiny that I could probably put one in my right pocket and one in my left pocket and not increase the girth of my silhouette. I was fascinated by them because they ate quietly together and chatted, and with my big ears I overheard them talking about the circus.

Sarasotawas the winter headquarters for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus—where they tested out their new acts. As I said, I was feeling gregarious, so I engaged them in conversation. They decided to come over to our table to join us. We quickly discovered that they were not only talking about the circus, but they were members in good standing. Their field of expertise was the trapeze and walking the high-wire. (Suddenly it occurred to me why the slightness of their frames would be of great advantage. Putting me, for instance, on a wire in the sky would create quite a bend in the universe.)

We were going along fine with our conversation until I asked them about their new act and they told me it was a death-defying routine which demanded much of their attention and at this point, was quite nerve-wracking.

I said, “Thank God you’ve got that safety net down there, just in case you slip.”

At that moment, all at once, Imogene blanched, dropped her fork onto her plate, rose from the table and scooted her way towards the restroom. The members of my group turned to look at me like I had stabbed Imogene in the heart. I was baffled by her reaction. Fortunately, Anton stepped in with an explanation.

“Relax,” he said. “She’ll be fine. It’s just that we never mention the net. I mean, we kind of know it’s down there, but you can’t be walking on the high wire and have one single thought about the net. Matter of fact, Imogene and I have sworn to never bring it up or speak it aloud—because the minute you believe you have a safety net, you will unconsciously lose your concentration, become dependent upon it and end up falling. Eventually, you will need to perform without the net—and if your mind is relying on it, the results … well, the results could be deadly.”

As he finished his explanation, Imogene reappeared at the table and began to apologize. I interrupted her. “I am so sorry, my dear,” I said. “I had no idea.”

“How could you?” she replied. “You don’t walk our high wire. You don’t live our life. You don’t sense our need. Therefore, you don’t understand our dilemma.”

She was right. I was very careful the rest of the night not to bring up the word “net” in any way, shape or form. We had a lovely conversation and stayed at our table until the New Year rang through.

I will never forget that experience. It came to my mind again this week when I heard someone bring up the term “safety net” in relation to poor people in this country. I personally have suffered poverty. Poverty is infectious. It doesn’t just make you hungry. It doesn’t just remove your finance. It makes you frightened, dependent, defensive, and angry. And of course, if you express any of these emotions, possessors of money will be critical of you because you’re not appreciative of the services available.

But let me tell you, if you’re poor and you begin to trust that safety net—that government assistance—that intervention of kindness from others—your personal journey of discovery and self-reliance is over. Imogene was right to run away from anyone who would talk about the net. Because if you’re walking the high wire—be it in the circus OR one of poverty—you need to keep your attention on improving your plight instead of wondering what’s going to happen if you make a mistake.

I learned something that night which I’ve tried to apply in the rest of my experiences in working with others. Unless I am going through the identical situation that you are, I don’t understand what it takes for you to make it work. Merely telling you that you should be all right because there’s a net underneath you could be the worst thing in the world for you. Because if you want to get good at walking a tight rope, you have to stay focused on your next move—and not trust the net.

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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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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

It’s Time for a New Year… January 1, 2012

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Jonathan in Miami

PRNDL.

Most people over the age of 35 will know what those letters stand for. It harkens back to a time when cars had the gear shift mounted on the steering column, and there before your eyes was PRNDLpark, reverse, neutral, drive and low.

This came to my mind as I thought about the arrival of 2012. Although many people are concerned about the Mayan calendar failing to provide a 2013 and whether the Kardashians are going to find true happiness soon, my thoughts are on whether we can create a climate that will allow us to progress as human beings instead of merely acting out animal instincts or insisting we are divinely anointed and inspired.

The P stands for PARK — and the thing that has us in park right now is politics (also another “P”). As the Republicans wade through a series of candidates, almost tongue-in-cheek, knowing deep in their heart of hearts that they’re going to end up with Mitt Romney, and the Democrats prepare to defend the administration of President Obama by trying to explain how much worse it would be if Mitt Romney were President, it seems that we’ve parked our country’s future, maturity and goals in a political garage of ignorance and stubbornness.

It doesn’t take a terribly intelligent person to understand that some solutions are going to be conservative and others, liberal. No one profile ever fits the needs of the human experience. Being conservative on one issue may prove to be vital and essential but detrimental on the very next subject. Trying to be liberal on some occasions renders you almost comical, while in other circumstances it is the key to understanding the next vista of possibility. But instead we park. Yes, our country is parked in an abandoned lot somewhere, completely stalled in politics.

The only greater danger is that we will go into REVERSE due to religion. The problem is logical. If you’re going to spend all of your time telling little anecdotes about what Moses did thousands of years ago, you may find it difficult to relate to the people directly in front of you right now. Religion, by its nature, takes us in reverse, trying to regain an assumed righteousness from the past, which, as you study history, you find was not really righteous at all. Our forefathers were as much liars as the politicians today, peppered with scandals and guided by their prejudices. Religion wants to go in reverse–and of course, as you know, the problem with backing up is that you’re much more likely to run into something.

Then there’s NEUTRAL–if you will, a neutering of our society, removing our true impact as men and women. Yes, the thing I feel needs to change in the coming year is the continual onslaught of nonsense. I have never in my life seen a time when nonsense is given so much attention. At one time we had Entertainment Tonight, which supposedly explored the storylines behind the entertainment industry. Now there are twenty to twenty-five of those shows, probing into the lives of people who do very little more than nonsense. I don’t care what people do. I just have a problem with it being broadcast in a twenty-four-hour news cycle incessantly.

For instance, what we did with this Casey Anthony trial this year was one of the most abominable experiences I have ever seen in my time as an American citizen. Whatever that young girl did with her small child should not have been placed in a public forum. We are people who need to be edified, not constantly ratifying our negative natures and piss-poor outlooks on life. The young woman should have been put on trial quietly, we should have found the truth and either given her adequate punishment or mental health care, accordingly. But instead, we pursued the nonsense of continual rattle-trap conversations and stumping about her actions.

Politics has parked us. Religion wants to put us in reverse, and the nonsense of news stories has jammed us into a neutral position, where we are susceptible to being pushed in all the wrong directions.

What remains is D and L. What is the down-low? What is the answer to 2012? I would like to encourage you in joining me in avoiding being parked in politics, reversed in religion and neutralized by nonsense. Instead, why don’t we DO and LOVE?

Every day of your life this year, just do something and love somebody. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Because most of us don’t want to do anything because we’re afraid of failure. But failure is the backbone and the true intelligence of genius. Without it we never discover what’s better; we only settle for what’s available.

And loving somebody requires two very important emotions in our being: (1) I will open up to you; and (2) I will not reject you even if I don’t agree. We have begun to make our love conditional on whether we pass the test or not.

Yes, let’s take 2012 and DO and LOVE. Every day of your life, just do something and love somebody. If at first it’s just doing your job better, then that’s great. If your love only goes out to those who are in your family, it’s a good beginning. But if we don’t get rid of the politics that’s parked us, the religion that has us in reverse and the nonsense that neutralizes us, then we won’t have any energy left to do and love.

It’s up to you and me. I will not join in the political fray. I will not pretend there’s a distinction between Mitt and Barry. I will not participate in religion that thrusts us back to former times, pretending that era was better. And I certainly am not going to jump into the nonsense of stories that show the futility of human ego.

I am going to quietly do something and love somebody.

And if at the end of 2012, I have successfully done that, it will be a good year.

What do you think?

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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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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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