Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … November 12th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Man: Checks and balances.

 

Woman: What about them?

 

Man: They’re crap.

 

Woman: What an un-American thing to say.

 

Man: It’s not un-American to find a flaw in the system. You can still honor the traditions of our republic.

 

Woman: OK. I’ll buy into it. What makes them crap?

 

Man: Too many checks to create balance. We base this whole political organization of our government on the mindset of men who were frightened to death of kings and courts, and highly suspicious of each other.

 

Woman: Why were they suspicious?

 

Man: Because each colony was an entity unto itself. The idea of being united was tenuous, if not comical. So they put so many provisions into the Constitution to protect themselves that the government struggles to make any progress for the common good.

 

Woman: We have made a lot of progress in America.

 

Man: Have we? It took one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence to free the slaves. It took another hundred years to give those same people voting rights. And it appears like it’s going to take a hundred MORE years to start treating them like they’re white.

 

Woman: Oh, you’re just mad because Hillary lost.

 

Man: Speaking of that, how could a woman of your intelligence vote for Donald Trump?

 

Woman: Because I didn’t want the Clintons in the White House again, and even though I know there’s some chauvinism involved with President Trump, I’ve dealt with chauvinism all my life. I was just not certain that Hillary would be President instead of Bill.

 

Man: Well, I’m not gonna argue with you. I’m just explaining to you that this process of checks and balances in this country–where the President can only do certain things because Congress interferes and the Supreme Court comes along and overrules everything–well, the idea is overly cautious and clumsy. Let me give you another example. It took a hundred and forty years for our country to give the right to vote to women, and another hundred years before a female was even considered for President. God knows how long it will take for a lady to hold the position.

 

Woman: So what are you suggesting?

 

Man: I’m suggesting we choose our leadership more carefully instead of making it like a high school popularity contest, so that they are evaluated and hired similarly to the way people get jobs in the private sector–because they are qualified and experienced, not based stubbornness and how pretty they are.

 

Woman: But you do want to give people the right to vote, right?

 

Man: Absolutely. But let’s understand. The two candidates who ran for President this year should have been evaluated on their resumés instead of their stamina and determination.

 

Woman: And what would have happened?

 

Man: I don’t know. It’s just that the President of the United States should be the CEO of this great corporation instead of being at the mercy of the partisan inclinations of a Congress which is working harder to get elected than they are at passing laws to benefit the citizens.

 

Woman: How about the Supreme Court?

 

Man: I would like to know what nine people we know of who have the wisdom to overturn the Congress and the President.

 

Woman: So what do you suggest?

 

Man: Less checks will bring more balance. People have to have jobs. You can’t tell the President that he or she is the leader of the country and undercut him or her right and left with the priorities of some junior congressman from North Dakota.

 

Woman: But it’s worked for all these years.

 

Man: Has it? Some of the best programs in our country came through the inclinations of a single person who we chose to be our leader. The Emancipation Proclamation was Lincoln’s baby. Social Security was spawned by FDR. The United Nations was originally conceived by Woodrow Wilson. And much of the War on Poverty was the hope child of LBJ.

Woman: I see your point. So how will this work?

 

Man: Well, honestly, I’m curious about the Presidency of Donald Trump. Will we accidentally stumble into some more realistic ways to open the door to good legislation because we have disrupted the normal passing of the torch from one old politician to another old politician?

 

Woman: Interesting. What you’re saying is, there was a need for this particular interruption because we have stymied the country with gridlock with the two parties. We’ve actually endangered the well-being of the people the government was meant to serve.

 

Man: I think so. There are three major problems that need to be changed. We’ve got too much culture. We have to decide if we really are “one nation under God.” Number two, the gender bias is killing us. Having an ongoing conflict between men and women never gives us a moment’s peace. And third, we certainly need to cease the class warfare–the poor against the rich and the rich against the poor.

 

Woman: That’s a tall order.

 

Man: Yes, but if we don’t take on the tall order, we’re going to greatly suffer under the short-comings.

 

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Right or Privilege … May 2, 2013

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Model THis name was Henry Ford.

He was one of the early innovators in the gasoline combustible engine, which was referred to as the “horseless carriage.” We now call them cars.

Of course, at one time he had a prototype of such a vehicle and needed to test drive it to see how it worked in a world which was not suited for such activity. There were no paved roads, and on the dusty highways were horses and pedestrians instead of smoky engines from experimental automobiles. So you can imagine, at first he was an annoyance, or even a laughing-stock.

I wonder what his approach was. Did Henry Ford feel he had a right to the roads because he was smart, clever or entitled? Or did he feel it was a privilege to use the roads since they were normally occupied by horses and people?

Another interesting thing about that invention is that it quickly gained popularity–but it also created immense problems. So even though most of us insist that we have a right to drive a car, it was obvious from the first that those rights had to be curtailed for the common good.

For instance, everybody had to drive on the right-hand side or we would run into each other. Roads had to be paved, which meant there had to be taxes. It was agreed that a license was needed to prove that one was actually able to drive one of the contraptions. Tags were put on the vehicles to both identify them and garner some revenue for the state. Policemen issued tickets to those drivers who would not follow the rules and inhibited others from having a safe journey. When you add toll roads, seat belts, safety checks, car insurance and emissions onto the list, what started out as a “right of passage” is now presented as a cautious privilege.

Yet no one objects to this. The addition of demanding seat belts has lessened the death toll on the highways. The careful scrutiny for alcohol-drinking drivers is keeping us from killing off innocents.

So is driving a right–or a privilege?

Let me give you a definition of what I think a right is. You have the right to do almost anything you want if you can answer this question: “Can I do this without hurting anyone else?”

If the answer is “no” you don’t have the right. I don’t care if the Constitution tells you that you do–the Constitution will eventually have to change for the common good.

Here is the definition of a privilege: “Can I do this without hurting myself?”

So you see, driving is not even a privilege. We are not permitted to sit in our vehicles without a restraint because in doing that, we could kill ourselves.

No, driving is an opportunity. And what is an opportunity? “Can I do this with necessary boundaries?”

So as we assess the issues of our day–be it abortion, immigration, gun rights, gay marriage, terrorism or even political gridlock–we need to ask ourselves if we’re dealing with a right, a privilege or an opportunity. Democracy allots for all three–BUT puts restrictions on privileges and opportunities.

Does a woman have a right to an abortion? Go back to the definition: can this be done without hurting anyone else?

Do I have a right to own a gun? Back to the issue of right, privilege or opportunity.

As you can see, when you remove arguments about morality and replace them with more civil discussions of whether in a Republic such as the United States, we are entitled to some aspect of our lives as a right, privilege or opportunity, it puts things in perspective. Of course, there will still be variances of opinion, but if we’re going to make all of our future plans in this country based upon codes of morality or spiritual ethics, we will be at each other’s throats incessantly. There has to be a different yard stick.

Is this thing we are contemplating a right (can I do this without hurting anyone else?) a privilege (can I do this without hurting myself?) or an opportunity (can I do this with necessary boundaries)?

It is a doorway to the kind of compromise that can be grounded in common sense instead of shady backroom deals.

 

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Smuggling Trifles … December 10, 2012

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Jon Signing

Did you know that three out of four people believe that 75% of what they hear is true, but that one-quarter of the information is lies?

Stop. I just made that up to be funny. So don’t go off and repeat it.

I have to offer that warning because in no time at all, a little piece of misinformation can be transferred across the country, considered common knowledge, without anybody questioning it, challenging its veracity or even considering the source.

We had a whole political campaign this year based on a series of trifles with little evidence, but because they were reported as facts, characters were assassinated and reputations tainted.

In an age of information, it is important for each of us to take responsibility for what we hear and make sure it bears witness with our own experience.

For instance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag.” Really? Have you ever looked at the definitions of “pledge?” And “allegiance?” And what if the flag begins to represent a republic that is NOT indivisible, but still infested with the same conflicts we had during the Civil War? What if that nation we are pledging to is no longer “under God” and doesn’t offer liberty and justice for all?

How about liturgy in a church? Can we continue to recite words which are not only out of our present vernacular, but also beyond our comprehension?

Can you really go on the Internet and retrieve information which is at best dubious and at worst, malicious?

Can we have a generation out there which is beginning to speak to each other using snippets from movie lines and abbreviations from Twitter?

We are smuggling trifles–little pieces of nothing born in the imaginations of promotional-minded sales people–into our everyday lives and calling them “truth.”

So before you go off and say that I have attacked the Pledge of Allegiance, placed a curse on liturgy, or am an old codger who is against the Internet, realize that I am speaking of a blind faith which embraces any misconception simply because it has a little bit of thrill or controversy.

I have chosen a different path. Everything that comes through my personal doorway has to pass the test of my own experience and my own sense of well-being. So what do I know for sure?

  1. I feel better when I share my feelings.
  2. I find that God is much more possible and plausible when I’m out there helping others.
  3. My brain seems smarter when I chip away at my own cemented ignorance.
  4. I eat better, I live better, I look better and I am better.

There you go. My core. It is from that base that I begin to circulate into the vat of humanity, absorbing new ideas, new information and new opinions. Being open-minded does not connote that we have no ideals or goals. It just means that we’re seeking confirmation for the truth that’s already made us free.

We will continue to be confused as long as we believe that political parties, religion, corporations or even our culture is out for our good. It’s not that we need to reject these forces, but rather, we need to channel the trifles that come our way through the filter of a thoughtful heart, a discerning spirit, a reflective mind and a strong body.

If we do this, we can keep from being duped.

If we don’t? Duping is inevitable.

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