Getting in Character … August 10th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Rules guys

From Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

Rules were not penned to paper nor carved into stone to cease human sin. They are put in place and enforced because humans lie about it.

Whether these stipulations are called “The Book of Order,” “Standards and Practices” or “Ten Commandments,” they loom as an angry mother with a switch, threatening us with nagging time-outs unless we comply or find a way to do it “behind Mommy’s back.”

Here’s the problem: we cannot live an abundant life, filled with character, and place a quality performance on the stage by dodging responsibility like adolescent brats.

Are rules important? When do regulations become a noose around the neck instead of a rope, pulling us toward success?

First and foremost, we must understand that there are good rules and bad rules.

A good rule is a guideline that advances the quality of human life. A bad rule is an attempt to stall human life in order to halt some feared activity. It’s similar to the office manager telling all the employees that no one is allowed into the supply room to get anything because someone is stealing paperclips.

So how do we know?

A good rule: All men are created equal.

A bad rule: We need cheap labor, so we’re going to make the black ones slaves.

A good rule: Moderation in all things.

A bad rule: Total prohibition of alcohol.

A good rule: Marry someone you love.

A bad rule: Just make sure he or she is the same color.

To be an excellent character in the great human drama, you must be prepared to respectfully decline from participating in rules that were produced in fear, which generate even more fear.

It’s the difference between the law and truth:

  • The law is when people try to control their humanity.
  • The truth is when people try to learn their humanity. 

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Accumulation … February 10, 2012

 
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It occured to me last week as I was driving along from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Silsbee, Texas, and the rain began to fall. Almost simultaneously, the announcer on the radio was forecasting showers, punctuating his prediction with a statement: “We sure do need the rain.”
 
I kept driving–and so did the rain. After about an hour of persistent precipitation, the farm land along the road began to “pond up,” with huge puddles where fields used to be–and eventually the water seeped its way across the roadway. It was amazing. The rain suddenly ceased to be “needful.” It had gone from a mist to a sprinkle to a shower to a downpour, ending up with the first fruits of flooding.
 
You see, it’s all about accumulation–and this is where I get fooled sometimes. I’m just like the next guy. I have finally accepted that a diet high in fat content from the fast food industry lends itself to cholesterol which builds up in the arteries, encouraging heart disease.
 
On a lighter note, I have completely bought into the concept that if we teach our children to read, this action alone may succeed in stamping out ignorance in our lifetime.
 
I certainly wouldn’t want to be the person to speak against prayer. Because in many ways it has become our symbol of piety, the thought being: “The more its done, the better the results.”
 
It would be un-American to suggest that casting one’s vote could be anything other than a necessary exercise in the gymnasium of democracy.
 
Far be it from me to challenge the concept of “family is everything” as the symbol of love, tenderness and openness in our everyday lives.
 
There is a great promotion machine in America that seems to make one list of virtues and another of vices, and alternate promoting and attacking, respectively. What is curious to me are those things that kept ambiguous, or even left off of either list.  For instance:
 
Apparently, violence isn’t supposed to affect us. Eating a Big Mac will give me a stroke, but having Big Mac kill somebody on a television show is still considered to be a stroke of artistic genius. According to this theory, seeing numerous murders, rapes, disembowelments, amputations and grisly grinding of all sorts does not have the same effect on our mental circulation as French fries do on our physical one. Isn’t that amazing? It just shows you how ignorant I am because I would think that since we are basically a human unit, that some of the same procedures that apply to physical realm would correspond to the mental, emotional and spiritual worlds. But apparently not.
 
Obviously, it’s all right to make drugs illegal and to encourage our children to avoid them–except when they go to the movies or see videos of rock stars or even watch a Superbowl commercial demonstrating how absolutely adorable and cool it is to guzzle a beer with the game. I guess there are people smarter than me who realize that mixed messages do not confuse young minds (or confound older ones). Because I certainly need to sit in a classroom where someone could explain to me how the targeting against cigarettes–to finally the abolition from them being advertised on television–would not also apply to the alcohol industry, which certainly does its best to compete in the death toll.
 
I must be an absolute imbecile–because it just seems to me that  teaching young minds that romance and true human sexuality is best represented by vampires and werewolves is creating a fallacious world of fantasy, if not inviting virulent behavior. For I have this ridiculous notion that adding a bit of violence to sex is what was once believed to be the source of abuse. But apparently I have either missed the boat or, as they say, “that boat just don’t float.”
 
At one time I comprehended that an accumulation of anything creates a flood. But now, as I’m getting older, I am being harkened by my society to believe that certain vices are not nearly as easily accumulated as other ones are. I must be honest, I am baffled by this conclusion. But even in my own family, my children, who were raised with the mercy and tenderness of a loving Jesus and the prayer and belief in God’s desire to intervene in our lives, have grown up with various stages of acceptance of what once we considered to be vices, which now apparently, in small doses, have become permissible, if not virtuous.
 
Let’s look at some of the transitions that have occurred: 
  • Agnosticism is equated with intelligence.
  • Alcohol is promoted in moderation, (with no understanding that there are many who are incapable of such a modulation).
  • Cigarettes continue to be presented in the film industry as a symbol of rebellion, upheaval and “cool,” which are obviously three things that no teenager desires.
  • And violence towards women, or making the female of the species submissive to an aggressor, is certainly put forth as poetic license for the telling of great tales of romantic lure.
I guess I’m just crazy. But I still contend that an accumulation of anything eventually leads to a flood. Is it possible to have a mist, sprinkle or mere shower of violence? Is it feasible to have a drizzle of addiction and vice? This is not for me to judge. But I know that accumulation IS accumulation, and all accumulation eventually floods all of the soil in our hearts, which could have received good seed.
 
I may be a dinosaur, but before I head off to the tar pits, let me say that moderation in all things is a grandiose idea–and one well worth musing. But if you find that you CANNOT be moderate, you need to “rain yourself in” before you are flooded with ideas and tendencies beyond your control.
 
Accumulation is the piling up of anything, which eventually floods our minds.  It takes wisdom to know the difference between a shower and a flood–and it will take some fearless crusaders who are not afraid of public opinion to keep us from drowning ourselves in our own personal choices and liberty.
 
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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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