Abe-bull … August 2, 2012

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Of the forty-four men who have held the position of the highest office in our land, Abraham Lincoln may be one of the few who actually understood the job.

Being President of the United States demands that you comprehend the magnitude of the mission while having a mind for the messiness. You must deal with the threat of your time, keep the nation at peace in its heart, while finding a way to disregard the many voices in Congress which would steer the ship toward the rocks. Of course, being the best at something does mean you’re going to be the most criticized. For after all, everybody has an opinion on everything, which they will gladly share with everyone, and it always ends up being a little wrong every time.

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate for the ...

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate for the presidency, 1860 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So if the name of Abraham Lincoln is brought up, you just might hear:

  • a tyrant (for after all, he did suspend many personal rights in the pursuit of keeping the country together)
  • a racist (the point being that he never really wanted to free the slaves, just scare away the English and French from assisting the South)
  • a hick (certainly reaching for his napkin instead of using his sleeve was not Abe’s first instinct)
  • a lousy husband (there are those who felt the problems with Mary Todd were due to Lincoln’s insensitivity)
  • an abused husband (in contrast, some felt that Mary Todd’s insanity held Lincoln back from even greater conclusions)
  • a Yankee (anyone south of the Mason Dixon line certainly had no problem voicing this thought)
  • stubborn (well, if you consider that he stood against almost everybody at some time or another)
  • honest (that was his campaign slogan, you know–Honest Abe)
  • a lawyer (he was licensed to do so, though didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time in that pursuit)
  • had a girl’s voice (he was known for his whiney tone and high pitch)
  • a failure (by the way, if you’re keeping score, he actually lost that Lincoln-Douglas debate)
  • awkward (what’s the old saying? He was too tall for his feet)
  • an abolitionist (the average plantation owner didn’t see any reason for sticking up for black people unless they were trying to woo one late at night in the slave quarters)
  • a gay man (yes, there is some sort of report that he shared his bed on cold nights with a male traveling companion) and most recently…
  • a vampire hunter (no idea on that one)

There you go. Obviously, all of these things can’t be true and what is true is probably lost in antiquity. So most of the opinions of people nowadays would just be what I call Abe-bull.

Here’s what we do know–of the two most important questions posed to Abraham Lincoln, he answered them in such a way that it brought dignity to his memory. And those two questions are simple: what is the best of my understanding of the present situation? So therefore, looking at myself and my abilities, what can I do?

There were many people who lived in Abraham Lincoln’s day who had a grasp of the problem but were frightened of the solution. To Lincoln, it was easy. His understanding of the situation was that the United States was a union of people who believed that all men are created equal. So therefore, he decided to maintain the integrity of that union at all cost, and in the process, set in motion a mission to make us equal.

Now, Richard Nixon came along at a time when the country was embroiled in a never-ending war, social upheaval and confusion, with our sons being returned in body bags every single day. His response to that was to elongate the war, increase the bombing and lie to the American people about his actions, culminating in a cover-up that nearly emotionally destroyed this country.

Judas Iscariot lived in a day when his nation was being occupied by the Roman Empire, and he believed there was a need for a leader to come along and save them, allowing them the freedom to be themselves in worship. But when he met a man who had a message of love for the entire world, he opted to reject him and betray him because the solution was not totally on point with his own thinking.

Franklin Roosevelt came along at a time when the country was in a depression and eventually involved in a war, and rather than following previously policy or even reasonable thinking, he created jobs (often made up) and generated a pathway which eventually led us out of the financial ruin, mainly due to our involvement in a war to destroy fascism.

Jesus of Nazareth came to the earth when some of the worst domination and violence that ever existed was in full swing, and instead of feeding the frenzy of revenge, he asked men to seek out their own talents to make the world a better place. And because they decided to remain vicious, he was willing to become their savior instead of just their teacher.

Can I tell you folks, I have been called fat, generous, stubborn, liberal, conservative, a heretic, a preacher, a singer, a squawker, a musician, a hack, a husband, a meanie, a saint, a sinner, a lover, a fumbler, a Yankee, a Rebel, and most recently, a gypsy troubadour (I assume similar to being a vampire hunter).

I ignore all of these assertions. I follow the philosophy of Abraham Lincoln, so I take a look at the world around me and I come up with this: to the best of my understanding, God loves people and wants them to expand and succeed. So therefore, I think I should let them know of this great opportunity in as many ways as possible.

There are two ways to live in this world. You can listen to all the news reports or you can go out and make some good news.

It’s up to you.

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

The Lambs–Lying with the Lions… April 9, 2012

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There was a time in our country when lying was expected from little children and politicians who got their hands caught in the cookie jar. It was simple–there was the truth and there was the avoidance of the truth, which we boldly called “lying.” It doesn’t mean that lying had not occurred since the beginning of time. After all, the very first sin, from a Biblical perspective,was lying, not disobedience. Adam and Eve could have survived the trauma of a poor choice had they not lied to the Judge on court day.

Somewhere along the line, the lambs of life–average human beings who used to be ashamed of deceit–are now actively “lying with the lions”–those man-eating, corporate giants and political sharks who have always found it easier to reject reality. It has been a process.

When I was born, lying was “bad.” There was no caveat to that. If you lied, you were “bad” and that was the end of it. Even when Lucy lied to Ricky on the television show back in the fifties, she eventually got caught, suffered some consequences and had to learn a lesson.

A little time marches on and there is a subtle transition–away from “lying is bad.”  The new byline was, “lying is out there–so be careful.” It echoed the paranoid mind-set of the 1960’s, a belief that big government and big everything was out to get us, so we’d better be on our toes.

But then there was a drastic turn. We can speculate on what caused it, but I believe one of the greatest contributors to the loss of veracity in our country was Watergate. Even though the populace denounced what Richard Nixon did, the definition of lying changed from being “bad” or “out there” to “lying is a weakness.”

Once lying becomes a “weakness,” we all can hide behind the frailty of our character and still come out of the experience fairly unscathed, which took us into the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, where another transition happened. We began to believe that sensitivity was primary for communication, and therefore, lying became “merciful.” Don’t tell people the truth–it could hurt their feelings. Don’t share the extent of the problem with folks–they can’t handle it.

Which brought us into a time of one of the greatest misconceptions, which is: “lying is human.” You see, once we establish that something is human, we can do it on the sly and if caught, blame our genetics. It’s a slippery slope. Why? Because the philosophy of “I’m only human” negates the special significance that God gave to the creation of our species, placing within us His own image. So I don’t think you’re going to find much mercy in the Creator by saying that you’re “only human.”

But once it became accepted that “lying is human,” we arrived at President Bill Clinton.  Just as Richard Nixon and Watergate deteriorated the American conscience about the subject to merely referring to it as a weakness, when President Clinton repeatedly misled us, it gave license for a new translation of the situation. It was the arrival of the notion that “everyone lies sometimes”–which immediately led to another step: “lying is a part of life.” Now, you can see, anyone who would stand against lying or even suggest that we as people could tell the truth would come across as unrealistic, or even worse, self-righteous. If” everyone lies sometimes,” you just might not have control over when it’s your turn.

Yes, we began to forfeit authority over our own selections. So lying became “a part of life.” And since it’s a part of life, lying became fodder and fuel for the comedic mind. Soon, in our movies and our television shows, lying was portrayed as something very funny. Unlike the Lucy show, liars in our new art form often do NOT get caught. There is no recompense for their deeds. They are even portrayed as the heroes, who did whatever was necessary to achieve the goal.

It has become almost like “lying is a different way of telling the truth.” Lying is the cushion we lay down on the ground, to ease the fall. In a strange sense, with the introduction of reality shows, lying has become admirable–a shortcut through the park to get to the market. It is a way to achieve your purposes without having to explain your motives.

Which brings us to where we are now–a situation where the lambs–those who once held fast to integrity–have now mated with the lions–predators who have never honored the rules of the jungle–and birthed an offspring of sheep with claws and teeth.

Truthfully, most people believe that lying is “American.” If we’re “doing it for America,” and if we’re Americans and as long as our motives are “good at heart,” then whatever we say to get what is “God ordained.”

There you have it. We have gone from “lying is bad” to “lying is American.”

We have gone from Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims and Indians, where there was a mutual respect because there was a general need–to avoid starvation–to calling those Native Americans “savages” and thrusting them onto reservations. We have taken the spirit of Watergate and mingled it with the events of Monica Lewinsky to generate a resignation of ultimate deception.

It all happened because we grew up believing that (1) inconvenience is nasty; and (2) that truth, more often than not, is inconvenient.

I must be honest with you and tell you that I dreaded writing an article about lying. I have grown up in the same climate and am susceptible to the little splotches of darkness that have stained all of our souls. But here’s what I’ve come up with:

I avoid telling lies at all cost. When I do tell one, I inform myself that I must own up to this as soon as possible because it’s the only way for me to maintain dignity. And finally, if I am so foolish that I allow myself to get caught, I will never piggyback one lie upon another, but will immediately admit that I am the culprit.

It is a formula I call avoid, own and admit. You may not be able to completely escape the inclination force-fed by our society, to distribute what is now called “misinformation.” But you can learn that lying is really the only sin. Everything else is just a mistake, awaiting our repentance.

Some of our lions–those we elected to be the leaders of our country–have set an example that now is being absorbed by the lambs. Candidly, our lambs will have to “trickle up” truthfulness to our lions. It won’t come from the other direction. If we want greatness, we must be willing to do great things.

And the greatest thing a human being can do … is stop lying.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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