Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 7

Eight thousand three hundred and twenty-nine miles.

From Erie, Pennsylvania, down to Jacksonville, Florida, across to Houston, Texas, up to St. Louis, Chicago, then over to Detroit, and even Nashville, Tennessee—with many cities in between.

For thirty-one days we traveled to twenty-five cities, putting on performances of my musical, surviving on fast food, common hospitality, and the financial generosity of an audience asked to pass the hat.

Providing our transportation were two leased vans—one stripped of interior seats, which acted as utilitarian, hauling equipment and suitcases. The other was a twelve-passenger van for the cast.

There were nine of us in all. I drove the passenger van, and Gary and Don took over the responsibilities of the “Ute Van.”

They liked that. And little else.

I often wondered why the two of them had auditioned for the play in the first place. Then I realized it was because they didn’t think they would be good enough to get in, but thought it would be fun to try—never imagining they would run across a producer like myself, who was so desperate for a cast that he hired them.

Every once in a while, just to keep things honest, I sent R. B. back to ride in the Ute Van along with Gary and Don, to act as my eyes and ears.

Unfortunately, R. B. was so inexperienced that he didn’t realize the pair was smoking pot right in front of him. When we stopped for gasoline, his innocence played out comically in how loopy he acted—from exposure to second-hand smoke.

When I cracked down on Gary and Don about the grass smoking, they immediately assumed that R. B. had squealed. They confronted him and he denied it, but they never believed him. They used the remainder of the tour to make his life as miserable as possible, with practical jokes, mocking him in front of the girls in the cast, and I think once even peeing on his costume.

Even though I tried to correct the matter, the cast members were not my wards of the court, but rather, young people wanting to get by with as much as they could and doing as little as they could in the process.

One of the girls challenged R. B. to “stand up for himself.” He explained that such a maneuver was against his Christianity because he believed in “loving people and forgiving them.”

Although his rendition of the Gospels was accepted by the other cast members who heard him share it, I interrupted with a different interpretation.

“Forgiveness is powerful if you’ve already established yourself as the salt of the Earth and the light of the world. If you’re valuable—nearly indispensable—then offering the humility of forgiveness carries some weight. But if you’ve spent most of your time on the back of the bus—or the back of the van, in this case—your forgiveness just looks like what any loser would have to do.”

R. B. had to make a choice. Was he going to side with me and the rest of the troop or was he going to quietly join into the rebellion of Gary and Don, as they attempted to convince themselves that they could do everything better than me?

One night, the sponsor at our concert called me into his office about an hour before showtime. He was an old buddy—going way back. He knew everything about me, and I the same for him.

He said, “You need to get your cast straightened out. I just had three of them in here, trying to convince me that you were crazy and that they needed some relief from your dictatorial style.”

Before I could even ask my friend who the three were, he identified them. “It’s your three boys,” he said. “Gary, Don and R. B.”

I wasn’t surprised with Gary and Don. But I was quite astounded that R. B. sided with his tormentors against me.

I know the cast thought I was going to yell at them before the show once word spread that I had been informed, but I did no such thing.

When I was introduced to do the opening words before the musical began, I received warm applause from the audience, which remembered me from former days. I did something that surprised everybody—even myself.

I said, “I want to thank you all for coming out here tonight. We are not in very good spirits and have been arguing with each other for several days. I didn’t want to try to fake you out. I didn’t want to pretend. I didn’t want you guessing. The cast that’s about to come out and perform are doing a good job, and they’re probably peeing their pants right now, wondering why in the hell (pardon my language) I’m saying this. The reason I am is that we don’t have to be perfect to do good things. But it sure helps if we’re honest. So I would like you to forgive us for being mere mortals, and please allow us to take you on a journey. Perhaps in pursuing that odyssey with you, we might get in better moods ourselves.”

The audience burst into applause.

The overture began and we were off to the races. It was a brilliant show.  When some of the cast members made their entrances, you could see tears in their eyes.

I didn’t have any more trouble with Gary and Don. But R. B. was never able to get over the fact that in his opinion, I had humiliated them all in front of the audience.

Even though Gary and Don despised him, R. B. chose to befriend his detractors.

Populie: We Need More God/Freedom… December 10, 2014

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weed guy and America needs god with border

Loud is loud.

When you add brash to it, you come up with a profile that is impossible to ignore, yet difficult to receive.

It seems that America is standing on both ends of the playing field screaming, hoping that the intensity of their individual squall will win the day.

It’s a battle between freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

  • “We need God.”
  • “We need freedom.”

The entertainment industry loves the populie because it makes for great theater, placing causes, and even cultures, at odds with one another.

Religion, of course, joins in, in order to prove that the presence of more “godliness” would allow for greater blessing from the Almighty and perpetual supernatural intervention.

And politicians alternate between God and freedom based on the temperament of their constituency or the audience which has rallied to the cause.

The end result?

Noise. And certainly not a joyful one.

Is there something we need? Is there an insight or philosophical approach that would lead us to a greater unity?

I think we need more personal responsibility.

I think granting additional freedoms without taking into consideration how they will affect the lives of those around us–as well as our own well-being–is a catastrophic miscalculation.

We want to give people the freedom for abortion without fully understanding the ramifications for the woman, the child, the man and the culture. Simultaneously, we don’t want to talk about the personal responsibility of procuring birth control and making sure that unwanted pregnancies are not nearly as often unwanted.

We cry for freedom and shun personal responsibility.

We want to legalize marijuana, never taking into account that our society is mostly smoke-free, so people would not be able to puff in public anyway, nor do we consider the danger of second-hand smoke. Plus we fail to recognize that it is a drug that does affect disposition and productivity. We don’t want to take the personal responsibility for the end result of this campaign for freedom.

Likewise, others scream for “more God” while failing to use the God they have. After all, it is “not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” But we spend more time discussing who should be left out than who should be brought in.

True belief in God is only confirmed by our level of mercy.

There is no way to prove that someone loves God without seeing their mercy in action. If we live for the grace of God to save us from our own inadequacies, we must extend that same tenderness to others through the ointment of mercy.

I will believe that spirituality has a place in our society when I see it beginning to create more compassionate and merciful people. Bigotry, self-righteousness, traditionalism, pop-culture gospel, prosperity and political pundits do not represent the mind of Jesus.

So in our country, it’s popular to scream “we need God” or “we need freedom.”

But the truth is, what we need is personal responsibility and mercy. 

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Freedom Part 1: GRASSHOLES… July 1, 2013

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FastSkewed.

All statistics can be twisted and turned to meet the specifications of anyone who wants to present a particular case for his or her cause. This is undeniable.

Case in point: on the day before last year’s Presidential election, there was one polling organization which was absolutely guaranteeing that the contender for the election was going to win.

If you spend enough time collecting information favorable for your conclusion, your conclusion will confirm the information.

So when it comes to the issues surrounding marijuana, it is absolutely useless to listen to the pundits submit their statistics. What I choose to reflect upon is the evidence. And I’m not talking about the evidence put out by the organizations which are against the product. I’m talking about the evidence promoted, advertised and shared by those who seemingly would love to see weed legalized.

There is no movie made which shows people smoking grass and portrays them as having generosity, intelligence, faithfulness, productivity, basic human interaction–or even know how to get to White Castle. As in the flick, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, marijuana smoking is portrayed as a practice which makes one “high” by making one dull and low.

This is not MY contention–this is the image given by those who are partakers of the herb–the GRASSHOLES.

Now let’s look at what we know:

  • Marijuana is used as a medicine to dull pain, discomfort and nausea during chemotherapy treatment.
  • Second-hand smoke from marijuana can intoxicate someone else–so therefore it can never be smoked in public (even though we don’t allow people to smoke at all in public anymore because of the effects of second-hand smoke.)
  • It is questionable that with the many deaths brought about on the highways due to alcohol, whether marijuana could be used by people operating vehicles without putting others in danger. By the time we could accumulate such data, multitudes of people could be killed.
  • What is the effect of marijuana smoke on the lungs and respiratory system? Still being studied.

So if the main use of this product by the GRASSHOLES is going to be done privately in their own homes, what’s the point of legalizing it? Are we merely trying to get revenue from yet another intoxicant to fill our coffers, even as we siphon off that profit to pay for rehab?

Are we positive enough about the lasting effects of the hemp plant to release it for common consumption to the public without fear of harm?

Is it really a positive argument–to insist that marijuana is “no worse than alcohol,” when we know that alcohol destroys tens of thousands of lives every single year?

And do we really want another reason for our teenagers to become more distant? Have you had a recent conversation with humans in their teens? Would you really want that to be any less interactive?

Just because we can rally does not mean it’s a legitimate party. And just because people may want the freedom to do something of their own choice does not mean it provides for the common good.

Yes, the Preamble of the Constitution says that our nation was constructed to provide for the common good.

Marijuana may be excellent as a relief for those suffering from cancer and terminal illness. But to indiscriminately give it to the public under the guise of freedom–or even finance–is to negate the evidence presented by users, who in their more candid moments, admit that it dulls the senses and causes people to “check out” from human discovery.

Be careful. Freedom is a wonderful thing–unless it robs us of more valuable freedoms.

And our most precious freedom is the ability to interact with one another with a clear mind, clear conscience, clear soul … and full awareness.

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