Salient … May 21st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3673)

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

There is no escape.

No value in running.

Certainly no place to hide.

There are nearly a billion eyeballs staring at you and tens of millions of I-Phones trained on your every move.

Privacy is a concept but never a reality. You are being viewed, and often critically. Even individuals who do not speak to you are still noting your temperament, actions, generosity or lack of compassion.

Perhaps the greatest irony in the human experience is the notion that each one of us should carry a certain amount of overwrought self-esteem, even though simultaneously, you will not tolerate it in any other mortal.

Common sense should kick in. You and I should realize that since we are a species that respects the hell out of humility, pushing our self-worth too far guarantees a backlash from those who feel we are overbearing.

You must realize that kindness, mercy, grace and gentleness are not virtues but rather, precautions–used by intelligent people to protect them from the galling scrutiny of bystanders who draw conclusions from very little evidence.

And from those conclusions they decide how they will treat you.

Case in point:

Sometimes they don’t even know why they don’t like you, but they remember how you cut someone off in traffic, and it pissed them off.

They recall being in the room when you lied to your wife or your family.

They watch as, for the fourteenth time, you walk by a homeless person who is seeking a buck.

They burn with anger over your lack of consideration, caused by your perpetual boredom with your own life. Even though they themselves wouldn’t have done anything differently, you are not permitted indiscretion. You are not allowed to be obnoxious.

Courtesy is not an adventure of the meek, trying to keep the world civil. It is a coat of armor to protect against the slings and arrows which come from the probing public, always ready to indict, prosecute and convict.

And that doesn’t even take into consideration that there may be an Eternal Creator, also watching, who happens to know the number of “glares in your head.”

If you decide to be surly, always realize that there are people who saw it. They will take that encounter and use it against you in a time and place which you do not know.

So now for our salient moment. May I keep it simple?

Be mean, be seen.

Be kind, clear mind.

 

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Ask Jonathots … May 26th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I have a buddy at work who just separated from his wife and is filing for divorce. He’s going to fight for full custody of his two daughters. He says his wife is not fit to be a mother because she’s mentally unstable. I met her once at a party, and she openly talked about how her daughters had “betrayed” her. They were five and six years old at the time. Here’s my question: how do you know when someone is just flat-out crazy? Is there anything I can do for my friend?

You are actually posing three questions:

1. How can you tell if somebody’s crazy?

2. How can you get involved in a situation without interfering?

3. What is the basic criteria for being a parent?

So I will attempt to address each inquiry individually and let you sew them together as an answer.

I don’t believe there is an actual condition called “crazy,” but when we deny reality, we certainly teeter on the brink of mental instability.

There are many ways to deny reality: you can lie about it, pretend it’s not your fault, insist it’s not your business but instead, God’s affair, you can blame the devil, or as in the case of your subject, you can believe that your children are trying to sabotage you.

Insanity is the idea that ignoring reality can change your circumstances.

Now let’s look at the second question. Unless somebody asks your opinion, giving it is interfering.

I have learned that my opinion is not really needed, wanted or valued unless there is a question pending. In other words, without someone asking me for my input, I am being obnoxious.

Now, shall we go to the third question? There is actually one criterion for being a good parent. Are your children safe?

Because as they grow, sometimes they may perceive the parent as a comforter, friend, warden, enemy, Satan, Santa Claus or boring. So you can’t evaluate good parenting on how happy the children are to actually have a parent.

Are they safe? And by safe, I mean that they have a sense that they will be taken care of, and they are not threatened by those who have authority over them.

So let’s see if we can put the three answers together.

Since children do not dictate the policies of the household, it is difficult for them to be betrayers. Therefore believing children are betrayers is certainly an imbalanced and unhealthy profile. It opens the door for the parent to retaliate instead of express affection.

But since your opinion has not been sought and you are not in a power position to change things, what you need to do is express your joy, concern and hopes by being supportive of the kids–through little notes, maybe some gifts, and a loving, open door.

You should avoid taking sides, but instead, pass on to both the mother and father that you feel the most important thing is the well-being of these children. In doing this, you will establish that you are the champion of the daughters instead of the crusader for either Mom or Dad.

This is the advice I give you–but also be fully aware that any time you leave reality (for instance, thinking you’re the savior of this other family) you can become just as “crazy” as the next person.

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Confessing … October 31st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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XXVI.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Too much of a good thing.

No such creature.

However, there is a possibility of too much of my good thing. An overdose of my definition of “proper” and my code of appropriate behavior.

In my lifespan, I have seen morality change so often that I think we might want to consider writing the list in pencil. Finding what is unchangeable and humanly fulfilling is like searching for the pearl of great price in a desert of my misunderstanding.

Thus my problem with William.

We had the same Mommy and Daddy. I have been trying to confirm that we have the same Father.

I am not a religious man by any stretch of the imagination, but I see no value in traveling through this life making effort to love my neighbor as myself, comfortless from having a Friend who encourages me and believes in the same aspiration.

I really don’t care if He or She is imaginary as long as He or She is attentive.

William checked out of his life too early.

He was an excellent teacher who became despondent because he cared too much. The interesting factor is that after each one of us checks out of our lives, we no longer care about how we treated the “motel room” provided. Yes, there’s a danger of trashing one’s own existence.

About 25 years ago I decided to love William no matter what.

Hell, I was lousy at it. The reason for my failure is that even though I pursued unconditional love, I realized that humanly speaking, once that is determined to be impossible, we become obnoxious to those we intended to bless. Simply put, in the process of loving William, I had too many goddamn ideas on what William should be.

  • I thought it was helpful. It ended up being hurtful.
  • I thought it was ingenious. It was proven ridiculous.
  • I was never condemning. But I cannot truthfully say I was always consoling.

So for about nine months, I walked away from my relationship with William, giving him a chance to breathe air that wasn’t contaminated with my opinion.

The difficulty lies in the fact that William tends to alienate those souls who come his way, so after several months he recontacted me, figuring that a nosy brother was better than leading a faceless life.

So I’m off today to have lunch with him for the first time in over a year. I am scared and not ashamed to admit it.

I don’t want to be an asshole.

I don’t want to tread on his very thin ice, break through and drown us both.

So I confess to you that I am a caring person who realizes that caring is a dangerous thing. It only becomes valubale if the person receiving it has some place to tuck it away.

Confessing Bill

 

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Populie: Vox Populi … July 30, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The Thinker

The term is Latin for “the voice of the people.”

So today we will discuss the populie of vox populi.

I, for one, would find it fascinating to actually hear the voice of the people. Instead I am inundated in a news cycle which has a simple philosophy: “Who’s screaming the loudest? And please put a camera on them.”

Even though I would not call myself an authority on the American public, having traveled across this country for decades, interacting with hundreds of thousands of people, I do feel confident to advance the following:

  • America is not conservative.
  • America is not liberal.
  • America is not Republican.
  • America is not Democrat.
  • America is not religious.
  • America is not secular.
  • America is not intellectual.
  • America is not ignorant.

All the extremes pushed to the forefront in the pursuit of gaining ratings and pleasing advertisers have absolutely nothing to do with the actual vox populi.

The average American of every race and intellect has two desires:

A.  Give me a climate in which I can be financially solvent and pusue my interests and goals.

B.  Let me do this pursuing with as little interferance and as peacably as possible.

If you have a name for that philosophical stance, you can probably capsulize the American spirit.

But religion, politics and entertainment feel the need to generate a national angst which they feel either fills pews, jams the voting box or sells cinema tickets.

Honestly, when you get out there in the middle of humanity, these issues, ideas, conflicts and even preferences don’t register.

Truthfully, we often tune in the news, watch a movie or listen to some pundit rally for his or her cause at our own peril.

If you’re going to run a wise course through this raging gauntlet of screaming extremes, please take a look at three principles which will aid you in negotiating the obstacles of fury:

1. See how something feels in silence.

Never respond immediately to a fiery sermon.. Never read something on the Internet, assume it’s true and pass the gossip along. Find a quiet place, run it over in your mind and realize that if your spirit doubts the validity of the extreme statement, then your spirit is probably right.

Silence is the environment where ideas can be segregated off into those inspirations that benefit us from the clamor that feed on our prejudices.

2. Can this idea being trumpeted be accomplished without hurting people?

We have become too cavalier in our treatment of human life and the feelings of others. I have never believed that the end justifies the means, but I will go so far as to say that the end does not even justify the bad attitudes. If you find yourself angry enough that you lose civility, you have probably swallowed a devilish glob of nonsense.

3. Has this concept worked in the past, is it able to be applied now and does it have a future?

If you cannot find a grandfather to your idea, then fathering it is not terribly intelligent. And if you feel led to father an idea, understand that your grandchildren will be left to pick up the results–and the bill.

There are things in the past that certainly needed to be changed. But there are truths that endure from the past which cannot be thrown aside just so we can call ourselves progressive.

The voice of the people is not determined by the loudest screamer. We will never convince the media to stop pointing the camera at the most outlandish sight.

But we can listen for the voice of the people in the whisper of common sense in our own soul, telling us to pursue excellence … and pass up really obnoxious ideas.

 

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Three Things You Can Do Today to Change Your Life… June 12, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jan lipsIn a great push for unconditional love and accepting people “just as they are,” we have closed the door on the benefit and blessing of self-improvement.

Here’s my take: I don’t want your unconditional love.

I want you to let me know how I can do things better, and then grant me your unconditional mercy as I move forward and try.

I don’t want you to accept me just the way I am if it’s going to make me obnoxious, shorten my life or pull me away from my potential success.

Minus condemnation, please clue me in on an idea which will enhance my possibilities.

Here is a truthful statement–it is much easier to repent of silly foibles than it is to constantly offend other people and try to cover one’s mistakes.

Candidly, the process is not complicated. Matter of fact, I would like to suggest three things you can do today which could change your life. If you pursue them for a twenty-four hour period, they will produce such obvious blessing that you may choose to continue.

1. Tell the truth.

Every one of us has found shortcuts and side streets from the path of honesty. I don’t know if we think it’s clever, intelligent or just fun to pull the wool over people’s eyes, but you will be astounded at how freeing it is to answer yes or no, or give an accurate account of your present situation.

Just try it for one day.Jan eyes

Now, I am not talking about going into your past and confessing all of your sins. I am merely speaking of taking today’s situations and baptizing them in the truth.

2. Don’t make promises.

If you don’t want to do something, try to tell people your real feelings. If you can’t do that without hurting them, don’t promise to participate, but instead, tell them you will think about it or attempt to participate.

People are quick to jump on our words and turn them into promises, so you must make sure you are clear that you’re either unwilling to join, or undecided.

3. Avoid excuses.

Jan earThe most annoying attribute in the human personality is explaining our motivations, hoping it will replace positive action. What a bunch of hogwash.

Stand behind what you did or apologize for it–but never try to persuade people who have been affronted by your actions to understand why you slighted them.

These are the three things you can change today which will not only make you a better human, but will immediately increase the trust people have in you, and therefore open the door to more acceptance.

Somewhere along the line, our culture needs to realize that accepting one another as we are is negating the power for human beings to evolve.

Isn’t it interesting that a generation which touts the importance of evolution wants to emotionally and spiritually stay the same?

 

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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G-7: Move or Stay… January 17, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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allergyIt is not healthy to remain in an unhealthy situation.

This might seem an obvious assertion, unless you consider that people have a tendency to do what is “normal” instead of what is beneficial.

We just get used to stuff. Then we convince ourselves that it’s meant to be, God’s will, our lot, a cross to bear, or even worse, a mission field.

Keep in mind, you have a certain amount of energy. It is a daily gift which should be used wisely–because honestly, it can’t be conserved. You can’t save up Tuesday’s passion for a Thursday adventure.

So we have to be careful to be in surroundings that move us. And if we’re not moved, then we need to move.  Staying is not an option.

How do you know?

1. Is there a hunger and thirst for life? If you’re surrounded by an atmosphere of negativity, despair and complaining, it’s going to be very difficult to forge a future. Even if they’re your relatives, it doesn’t change the level of obnoxious.

2. Is there change in the air? Human beings are either evolving or they’re going extinct. It’s just the natural order. If there isn’t a sense of wonder about innovation, you will start settling for things instead of choosing them.

3. Is there enough heart around you to be touched? There are individuals who think it’s adult to remain aloof and free of emotion. I will agree that too much sensitivity becomes annoying. But if a climate of your choosing does not have people in it who are capable of being touched in the heart, then you have to depend on them to be spiritual. Human beings are not naturally spiritual. Or you’re expecting on them to be smart all the time. (I don’t think I have to even speak to that.) The ability to be emotionally impacted is a sign of mental health.

4. And finally, is there still an abiding faith? Listen to the next five things the people around you say. Is there anything positive in them? Of course, we can all get aggravated and turn dark in our mood, but generally speaking, if the next five things said don’t have love and encouragement, you have found yourself in a dark cave where light is considered an intrusion.

Of course, you can continue to stay in bleak environs and try to be “this little light of mine.” But remember–there’s a reason people have chosen the path of despair, and they won’t be satisfied until you despair along with them.

The most important decision you will make in your life is where to invest your ching.

And if you stay where there is no movement, you will eventually be forbidden to move those who stay.

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I Got to P… November 14, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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SixFor a five-year period, I wrote screenplays–seventeen of them in all, with thirteen movies produced in an independent-film format. Trust me, I was no threat to either Aaron Sorkin or Steven Spielberg, but considering the meager budgets involved, some pretty amazing projects were completed and released into the cosmos.

What I discovered when I wrote these screenplays was that people involved in artistic pursuits are often pressured by two different camps to comply to an agenda:

  • Religious writers are compelled to profess
  • Secular ones are taunted and teased to be profane

So if you wanted to write things that were acceptable to church people, you had to profess the principles of religion faithfully, while being careful not to add anything worldly, untoward or negative to your script.

On the other hand, if you wanted to get intrigue and interest from the “film festival crowd,” a certain amount of off-beat, unrealistic and profane inclusion was necessary.

I found both camps to be obnoxious.

I don’t have to go any further than the Good Book to demonstrate the aspects of good story telling. This is the reason I believe that the Good Book still has value. The writers felt no compulsion to profess, nor did they feel pushed into making the tales more profane in order to create a wider audience. They just shared it.

So you have King David, who writes really beautiful songs and poetry, but also is a lousy father and an adulterous murderer.

You have Samson, who did mighty deeds for the children of Israel, but also ended up blinded and humiliated because he let his “little head” rule “the big head.”

You have a story of the Jewish nation which is equally peppered with both praise and ridicule for their works and deeds.

By no means did the writers of the Good Book want to either profess or be profane. Instead they went for a third Pprofound.

This is what I pursued in my screenplays, too.

And what is profound? A profound script has heart, soul, mind and strength in it.

1. Heart. What is the real emotion involved? I am not talking about made-up feelings so the writer can manipulate his characters to do as he proposes. I am speaking of the unabashed, unapologetic sensations that go along with the story and our participants.

2.  Soul. What can we use of faith, hope and love to propel our tale and still achieve better conclusions? Removing spirituality from great writing is similar to jotting down your thoughts with invisible ink.

3. Mind. What is accurate? If we’re going to be in the desert, people should get thirsty. If we’re going to be on the ocean, someone should be seasick. Failing to produce accuracy in the pursuit of either profession or profanity is a journey into faulted futility.

4. Strength. What is human? Don’t ask your characters to be superheroes. There’s too much of that in our theater today. Don’t portray them as demons. Expose humanity without fear or prejudice.

I don’t know–maybe someday I’ll start writing screenplays again. But if I do, I won’t be anemic and merely profess my own beliefs. And I won’t pursue profane, espousing the common whim of present-day society.

I will find the heart, soul, mind and strength in the journeys of my characters … and allow the words to produce profound results.

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