Mayberry Passion … April 17, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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andyBeing the local sheriff in a tiny village in North Carolina demands a variety of skills. Sometimes a psychologist. On other occasions a fixer of bicycles for young boys. It always requires a smile and a kind word for those passing by.

Andrew Jackson Taylor just seemed to have been born for the position.

Most folks called him Andy. He was always available with a joke or a piece of sage wisdom, but could also offer the occasional warning to those who were flirting with disrupting the peace.

And recently that had become a prime concern.

Deputy Barney Fife, who was known for his nervous twitches, was agog with fear and was trying to warn Andy everyday that this new youngBarney Fife man who had come to town was causing a commotion which was about as close to a riot as the folks of Mayberry would tolerate. Matter of fact, Barney had been on the case of this fellow named Jesus ever since he had sauntered into town.

First of all, he had long hair, which was quite unacceptable to those who sported and required buzzed white-walls around the ears. Barney explained to Andy that Floyd, the local barber, was very unhappy, because many of the young boys in the town had begun to grow their hair long to imitate the stranger.

Jesus lived somewhere out in the woods, where he escaped late at night, only to appear early in the morning, chattin’ up the locals and joining in to the freshness of the day.

Goober came from the gas station to tell Andy how this young feller Jesus, had challenged him about putting water in Aunt Beethe gasoline.

The local sewing circle, led by Aunt Bee, in an attempt to be cordial and neighborly, invited Jesus to come and share at their monthly meeting. He created quite a stir when he decided to speak up against the practice of gossip.Gomer

Barney believed that this Jesus was anti-American because Gomer Pyle, after spending an afternoon with him, had decided not to join the United States Marines.

What really bothered Barney more than anything else was a rumor circulating that the Darlings, who lived in a holler down the road, had invited Jesus to a wedding of one of their young’uns, and word has it he brought his own corn squeezins’ that he had changed to moonshine.

OpieHonestly, Andy didn’t pay much attention to it, knowing that Barney was like a bear-trap with a spring too tight. That is, until he caught Opie fishing down at the lake with Jesus right after school, and didn’t much appreciate anyone interfering with his child. Jesus explained that he was just using fishing to teach the boy the multiplication tables, but Andy was not comforted.

Also when Thelma Lou was attacked by some of the local religious sorts for a reputation she had developed while living in Raleigh, this Jesus pointed out to the accusers how easy it was to have their deeds exposed, and that it might be a good idea for humans who live in stained glass houses not to throw stones.

Barney was even upset because Otis, the town drunk, had stopped drinking so much and didn’t frequent the jailhouse anymore. You just can’t mess with traditions.

But I guess it came to a head when Andy’s girlfriend, Helen Crump, who taught at the local elementary school, allowed Jesus to share withHelen the students a motivational message which ended up being “no one is better than anyone else.” It wasn’t so much that Andy disagreed with the idea in principle—just found it totally impractical.

So with all this ruckus being raised by this stranger, who most people believed must have come from Mt. Pilate, it fell Andy’s lot, as keeper of the peace, to take Jesus for a little drive down the road. He brought along with him a bus ticket and thirty dollars.

Andy explained to Jesus that it was nothing personal, just that it was his responsibility to maintain the dignity and order of this town, and that things just weren’t working out too well with young Jesus being among the citizens.

Jesus listened carefully.

About a mile outside town, Andy pulled the squad car over and handed Jesus the bus ticket and the thirty dollars, and told him he really wasn’t welcome in Mayberry anymore. Andy, being the insightful sort, suggested Charlotte—where there were many more people who just didn’t pay as much attention to one another.

Jesus took the bus ticket and the thirty dollars and climbed out of the car. He started to walk away and then turned and said, “I guess I’m finished here. I hope your memories of me, after a bit of time, will end up being pleasant.”

He waved, turned on his heel and ambled down the road.

Andy watched him for a few moments, and said under his breath, “What a peculiar fellow.”

He turned the squad car around and headed back to town.

It was date night with Miss Crump.

 

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Lawless… November 4, 2012

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I love this country.

And it’s not because I was born here or I think we’re superior or we are the unique bastion of freedom or we have a divine right to lead the world. I love this country because it is the perfect blending of silly and important.

After all, anything that’s too silly ends up in folly. How do I know that? Because I, myself, have followed that path from time to time and have also seen the United States go through seasons of dumbness. Likewise, if one believes one is very important (by, say, repeatedly using “one” in a sentence instead of “you”) then one (or you) becomes self-righteous, officious and annoying. I am aware of this because I have been guilty of a bit of piety, and my country certainly has been adorned in the robes of ritual.

But what is perfect is when silly and important decide to get together and balance one another, so that nothing is taken too seriously and truly valuable things are given some air to breathe and a chance to succeed. It may be what’s missing during this particular juncture of the nation’s evolution. We’re frightened of being considered silly, so we are taking ourselves way too seriously.

But this condition was temporarily relieved from my mind last night when I was driving home from my set-up near Ashville, Ohio, and saw some campaign signs in a yard advertising: Lawless for Sheriff.

Come on. You’ve got to laugh out loud.

Only in America would such a silly name be associated with something so important as “sheriffing” without the constituency laughing out loud every time they read it or heard it. Only in USA would a man named Lawless feel free to run for sheriff–using his own name–without fear that he would be judged and guffawed right out of the office.

It made me think of other possibilities.

  • How about this one? Frank Critical for Supreme Court Judge.
  • I like this one: Karen Wolf for Dog Catcher.
  • Here’s a frightening one: Bill Terrorist for Director of Homeland Security.
  • Susan Graft for State Treasurer.
  • And of course, my favorite: John Mayor for Mayor.

I think it’s so positive. It gives me such hope that we have achieved the first step in a four-step process, to cease being a nation of prejudice, that we can just relax and enjoy the mixture of silly and important.

The first step is: No difference in a name.

Polish, Italian, German … or even Lawless for Sheriff. It doesn’t seem to bother us that much anymore. There’s even one guy running for office in this state whose last name is Gentile. No one is accusing him of being anti-Semitic. No one is asking if he’s circum … spective. We have made a step.

Look at those running for President. Mitt and Barack. Are you kidding me? This used to be a country with Presidents named Richard, Jimmy, George, Bill and Franklin. Mitt and Barack? Don’t tell me we haven’t made progress.

We have achieved step one, so take heart We might just be ready to go to step two, which is: No difference in color.

We are discussing it–nervously. I think we can do it. We may have to totally ridicule those who still go into the human home improvement store with a color chart, but I think it’s not only possible, it’s a necessity.

And when we get done with Number Two–no difference in color–we might be ready for Number Three: No difference in liberty.

People don’t have to follow my book. They don’t have to line up with my lifestyle. If what they choose to do is not detrimental to other human beings, they deserve the right to pursue it. I know–it seems we are light-years away from that one. But don’t give up. And please, don’t insist that we would be better off by having a Republican or a Democrat in the driver’s seat heading towards this destination. People are people and their prejudices don’t change that much simply because they are trailing behind a donkey versus an elephant.

Once we decide there is no difference in liberty–that our founding fathers truly did envision a land where all citizens would be granted equal justice, then we will culminate in the fourth step: Just no difference.

In other words, all of you are my brothers and sisters. This is how Jesus said his followers would be recognized–that they have love one for another. You can’t have love one for another and believe there’s a difference because of a name. Love is impossible if you’re differentiating by the pigment of someone’s skin. How can you give love to someone if you refuse them the liberty to pursue his or her own happiness? No, love is when we admit that even though we may have many contrary opinions, we are nevertheless all brothers and sisters.

So I drove back to my motel last night with a giggle in my spirit, thinking about Lawless for Sheriff–proud of my country because we are no longer name impaired.

You may think that’s silly. I would agree. And as I told you, silly is halfway to linking up with important …and making this whole dream called America a reality.

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