Sit Down Comedy … May 22nd, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

I was a fully grown, on-my-own 34-year-old man before I held three thousand dollars in my hands that was mine and mine alone.

I mean, ours and ours alone. For the entire family had traveled for a year all across the nation—sharing our talent, our hearts and our simple message of common sense, to land in the month of December with a nest egg which we were about to crack open and turn into individual omelets.

But before we did, I decided to take my young sons to a halfway house for recovering alcoholics, where those whose “down and out” had finally brought them to the point that they needed human care.

I let my kids sit with these gentlemen and listen to their stories, messages of redemption. I was hoping my sons would understand how blessed they were to surpass survival and be granted bounty. It was an amazing experience.

Everyone was thrilled because one of the occupants, who had been hooked on liquor for years, was finally going to get to go home to Mississippi to see his family. It had been five years.

His name was Herbie.

He was mentally challenged—but still able to maintain a conversation and make sense.

I shared. I told the whole room about our magnificent year and how much God had sustained us and endowed us.

Unfortunately, I was carrying our whole financial bonanza in my wallet, simply because it made me feel good and I was obviously not cleared for prosperity.

So when I went to the bathroom, my wallet slipped out the back end of my pants, and one of the inhabitants of the house found it and brought it back to me. He was praised for his honesty, and I gave him twenty dollars for retrieving my wallet.

That was before I counted the money inside.

I knew exactly how much money I had. So when I counted it, and it was $810 light, I faced a problem. Aggravating the situation was that my nine-year-old son overheard a conversation between Herbie and his buddy, in which it was made clear that Herbie was our thief.  My boy had found a corner where he was unnoticed and happened to listen in on Herbie bragging to his bunk-mate.

I didn’t know what to do. I am much more comfortable being human than trying for sainthood.

I was pissed off that I had been pilfered.

I didn’t want to attack Herbie or hurt him in any way. He had much work to do on his journey, escaping addiction. I didn’t want to be the reason he returned to the bottle, but I also didn’t want this fellow to think he could receive kindness and give back evil.

So I asked Herbie to join me in a room—just the two of us. I talked to him for a good half-hour, opening the door for him to admit what he had done. I even offered to pay for his bus ticket to Mississippi and give him a hundred dollars to buy presents for his family.

Never have I seen a man so totally divided between purity and holding onto what he had stolen.

By the end of the half-hour, he had wiggled and squirmed all the way down into the “hog-squaller,” where repentance usually brings about mercy.

But he just couldn’t do it.

I have heard rumors that in hours of confusion, God will provide the grace to be gracious. Apparently, this applies to everyone but me.

I was infuriated. I was defensive.

I took every one of my childhood prejudices against the poor and spilled them out in my heart, trying to decide what accusation to pursue next.

The worst part? $2,160 is not $3,000.

Yes—the numbers bothered me. I was enraged that this fellow was going to get away with his crime simply because he appeared to be helpless, weak and beaten up.

We finished our visit at the mission by singing a song. Before we sang, I commented, “This was an amazing day. Amazing because I got to meet all of you. But also amazing because one of you stole money from me.”

There was a gasp. The chaplain of all the chaps turned white in horror.

It was a cruel thing I did.

It could have been done differently, and I suppose the next time (or at least the time after) when I have eight hundred dollars snatched, I will be more polished and organized.

But on this day, I was deflated and out to hurt someone.

It was three days later, when I was wrapping presents for my children, that I realized how much we had and how comfortable we were. I finally gave myself permission to consider a different ending for my story.

For the truth is, having good cheer means sometimes maintaining the cheer when the good runs away.

I’ve told this tale many times.

I’ve never lied and said I believed it was God’s will or that there was some good done with the money that was better than what our family would have chosen to pursue.

I don’t believe any of that.

But each time I’ve shared, the spirit of hope lights up a different part of the tale, making me think deeper about myself, money and Herbie.

Today’s revelation was that my son, who must have been terrified to hear the man confess to the thievery, trusted me enough to report instead of nervously hiding the truth for fear of being wrong.

Everything doesn’t work out.

Everything certainly doesn’t work out to the good.

But everything, in its own way, does work out.

Sit Down Comedy … March 20th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

The natural order did not feel that plaguing us with a Presidential election was enough. Apparently, what was needed was a virus, which has scared us all into our corners to ruminate. I don’t know about you, but I have found that rumination is a skill that demands tremendous effort, patience and a certain degree of intelligence.

So it will be difficult to assess how long we will all be able to sustain our positions—until, like all creatures great and small, we try to fight our way free because we’ve been cornered.

I rely on a practice which I’ve used daily for many years. It seems on point for this situation. I call it:

“The Ten Questions I Ask Myself Every Day.”

Honestly, on some occasions, I don’t spend much time musing over them. But I do have them written down, and I do take the space to respect the exercise, and at least afford some sort of answer.

I thought you might be interested in them, and if you aren’t, this is an excellent place to stop reading.

****

1.Why in the hell are you so afraid?

(Remember, I’m asking myself.)

Fear is one of those luxuries we afford ourselves, even though we know it has no value. After all, there are rumors that individuals have been scared to death, but never any reports of humans being scared to life.

2. Can you identify your prejudice?

This forces me to admit that I am still prejudiced, even though I’ve worked on it. But since my upbringing was mostly out of my control until my late teens, I accumulated a lot of misinformation that still needs to be rummaged through and placed in the garbage heap.

3. Can you work on your diet without cheating?

I’m a big, fat boy, so I am constantly dieting. But even if I were slender, I would still have to work on my diet to ensure I maintain my nutrition, so I could use my vitamins and minerals to fight off…viruses.

But can I do what I do without cheating? And by cheating, I mean making promises to myself that I know I will not keep.

4. Can you stop lying?

Of course I can.

Actually, when you boil down the hours, minutes and seconds it takes to maintain a life of lies, it is much more time-intensive to be a deceiver than a truth-teller. I guess the question is, can I finally convince myself that I’m always going to get caught in my lie.

5. Can you slow down without stopping?

I know this sounds a little weird, but often we feel we have two gears: a dead stop or a deadly speed. Sometimes it’s good to know how to do a little less but still make it look like it’s the same amount. It’s in the slow-downed times that we discover the things that are worth speeding up for.

6. Can you consider multiplying your talents?

The deadliest words that can come off anybody’s lips are, “I don’t have any talent.”

We all do. It’s just the difference between having a single stick and two sticks. One stick is usually a weapon. Two sticks can be rubbed together to make a fire.

Can I take my abilities to make more abilities, so I will have the ability to survive?

7. Are you always attempting to maintain good cheer?

It’s important to know what good cheer is. It’s not a facial expression, nor a giggle, nor a spate of silliness. Good cheer is honestly knowing that fear and bitching will get you nowhere. So you might as well manufacture a better outlook.

8. Can you avoid arguing with people and just live out your heart?

We argue because we want people to approve us.

I’m not going to argue with you. I know what’s in my heart. I know it’s not going to hurt anybody, and I have a pretty good idea how to live it out.

9. What does love look like today?

Love looks different every single day. Sometimes it’s stealing kisses. Other times it’s giving space. Frequently, it’s quietly respecting without inserting an opinion. And on occasion, it’s intervening.

Wisdom is knowing which love to use today.

10. And finally, did you murder, blame and shame?

I become completely useless when I blame the world around me for my circumstances. And I topple from useless into despair when I take all the shame upon myself.

I don’t care who’s to blame.

And I will not allow you to place the shame on me.

***

Now, I realize this is a lot of questions.

But the answers don’t have to be long, and when you finish, you will find yourself thoughtful.

And it is my experience that thoughtful never hurt anyone.

Thoughtless is the culprit.

 

 

Sit Down Comedy … March 6th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

What statement would best typify the attitude of the average American citizen?

“Freedom and justice for all?”

“Land of the free and home of the brave?”

“All men are created equal?”

These are terrific thoughts. Can I offer a fourth possibility?

“Don’t tell me what to do!”

Yes—this one seems to have universal appeal.

The adult American maintains fragments of adolescent rebellion through most of his or her life.

I focus on Americans because other countries are so embroiled in wars, survival, calamities and tyrants that expressing “don’t tell me what to do” could quickly put you in the position of having the muzzle of a gun thrust in your face.

It’s a luxury we Americans enjoy—to object at will.

After all, a speed limit of seventy-miles-per-hour is not a rule. In our minds, it’s more like a recitation of suggested daily specials offered by a waiter when we arrive at a restaurant.

A “no parking” sign is the only sure way to guarantee that all the parking spots will be filled.

And if you put a button on a wall beneath a sign which reads, “Do Not Touch,” statistics show that at least seventy-two percent of people will look to their right and to their left, and sheepishly walk over and push it.

This in itself would be a great subject for an article—but let us add an additional question.

Do we feel any different about being told what to do when it’s a woman instead of a man?

An amazing thing happens to the male of the species with the arrival of testosterone in his early teens. He begins to play team sports or joins the military—settings in which he is often ridiculed, yelled at or even kicked around by coaches or drill sergeants.

A woman, on the other hand, often has little opportunity for team sports, and unless she purposely tries to find a combat position, will usually never experience such radical treatment.

Because of this, none of us are accustomed to being challenged, questioned or ordered around by a female.

And if a woman does gain authority, the characterization is quite different:

  • Men are assertive. Women are bitchy.
  • Men are resolute. Women are stubborn.
  • Men know how to command a situation. Women are bossy.

Just consider the three people presently running for President of the United States.

What if Donald Trump was Donna Trump? She would be dismissed as a dirty old lady.

What if Bernie Sanders was Beatrice Sanders? She would be a nasty-tongued wench.

And how about Joe Biden as June Biden? A little bit slow—perhaps senile.

But because they’re men, they are assigned integrity for their positions and are taken seriously—simply because they have prostates.

Does this mean that all Americans are misogynistic or anti-female?

No, but the average American has little experience with women being in control—not since they were little kids listening to their mothers nag about the laundry and dirty shoes next to the door.

Harken to this:

We had a whole caravan of females running for President this year. What we need to ask ourselves is, if any one of them had been male, based upon her credentials, her platform, her debate skills, her energy and her patriotism, would she still be alive in the contest?

I believe certainly one of them would have survived.

But each one was eliminated because eventually a tear came into her voice at the wrong time, which made her sound weak, even though when Joe Biden does it, it’s called empathy.

Or in the midst of making a point, her speech became more of a shout than a proclamation—although Bernie Sanders makes his living ranting at everybody.

Or she was a little too off-the-cuff or maybe not quite lady-like—although we refer to Donald Trump’s comments as “spontaneous” and “just his way.”

You will never know if you are free of misogyny until you can listen to a woman disagree with you, or even be your superior, without thinking you are back at home being criticized by “Mommy Dearest.”

Sit Down Comedy … February 14th, 2020

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Sit Down Comedy

 

Donald John Trump is our President.

It is a position we are compelled to honor due to the tenacity of our struggle as a nation and the grace extended to us as a people.

In the fury of opinions and the peril of hurling insults, it is good every once in a while, to stop and acknowledge what is true and what is honest.

This gentleman won the election to be our leader in 2016.

With this in mind, and my heart full of compassion and dutiful propriety, let me offer the following observations:

Mr. President:

1. Dictators have no redeeming values.

To focus on their might pilfers our great arsenal of what is right.

2. They that live by the military shall die by the military.

Every nation, kingdom and territory over the centuries that tried to maintain its integrity through the use of force has eventually been cruelly overtaken.

3. The measure you measure out to others will be measured back to you.

There are some souls who have learned the value of being gracious, and other human beings who are barely out of the jungle—with blood in their teeth. It is good for each of us to remember that we increase our possibilities for survival and mercy by offering them first.

4. And speaking of mercy, the grace that we all often need to survive the tribulation and chaos of Planet Earth is only granted to the humble.

The whole system of Mother Nature is geared to resist the proud.

5. Not everyone who cries “Lord, Lord” shall enter the Kingdom.

With the profession of being a Christian comes the responsibility of following the lifestyle of the Master—Jesus himself.

6. Pussies don’t like to be grabbed.

If an invitation is not extended, it is an assault.

7. “Suffer the children to come unto me.”

This does not mean to make the children suffer, as they are separated.

 8. Alienating nations, races and people of the Earth is rejecting their Creator’s craftsmanship.

Building walls creates nothing more than anger—and saying that there are “no good Samaritans” may leave you by the side of the road, without aid.

9. It is truth that makes us free.

Therefore it stands to reason that lying steals our freedom.

10. It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

And when the mouth speaks, the hearts that receive the words begin to accumulate an abundance.

Thank you, President Trump. Thank you for listening to these observations.

You are our President. We offer you place.

Sit Down Comedy … February 7th, 2020

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Sit Down Comedy

It is so much easier to deal with humans if you treat them as if they were people instead of elevating them to the status of little gods or demeaning them as raging demons.

I can always tell when something is going to fail.

If it’s presented to mankind as too spiritual or too intellectual, it is doomed. People are not particularly spiritual and only use their more brain-oriented side when it’s absolutely necessary.

Let me explain it this way. If you’re going to tell any person about something, there are three immediate questions that come to his or her mind:

  1. Where is it?
  2. What is it like?
  3. Do you have a picture of it?

Please do not think I’m marginalizing the masses. I’m just saying that Joe Schmoe and Jane Doe are visual.

It doesn’t matter what the subject is. You could bring up unicorns.

Here come the questions.

“Where are they? “

“Well, uh, uh, ah…well, not in any particular place…”

“What are they like?”

They’re like…well, like a horse, with a horn in the middle of its head…”

“Do you have a picture?”

“By picture, do you mean photograph, or would you accept a third grader’s drawing?”

You see what I mean?

Now, it’s much simpler with some things.

Pizza, for instance.

“Where is it?”

“They make it at pizza places.”

“Ok—what is it like?”

“It’s got dough, sauce, cheese, and any topping you’d like.”

“Cool. Do you have a picture?”

“Yes. I actually do. We ordered a pizza last night, and it looked so delicious we took a picture of it and posted it on Instagram, trying to make our neighbors jealous.”

Now, if you’ve followed the premise so far, understand that if the answers to all three questions are reasonable, then what you have shared will be considered a reality.

But let’s say that two of the questions asked are answered well but one is not. In that case, most folks will consider it possible but not certain.

One question answered? Then unlikely.

Zero? We dub it stupid.

May I highlight this process with an example?

Santa Claus.

“Where is he?”

“Well…I know this is a little hard to believe but he’s at the North Pole.”

“So what is he like?”

“He’s fat, jolly and likes to give toys to all the girls and boys. He seems to rhyme all the time.”

“Okay. Do you have a picture?”

“Oh, yes. There are pictures, drawings, sketches—all over the place.”

Now you understand why Santa Claus still hangs around. To some people, he may be unlikely; to others, a great possibility—but he’s never stupid.

It’s the old principle of vaudeville:

  • See your audience
  • Know your audience.
  • Work your audience.

So whenever you’re trying to sell your ideas, please keep the three questions in mind—even if you’re talking about God. Because here comes the first question.

“Where is he?”

“Ah…umm…he’s somewhere in heaven.”

“Well, that’s not much help. What’s he like?”

“Some say mean. Others say violent. A whole bunch of people think he’s loving to most but pissed at others. And I think there’s even a religion that believes there’s a thousand gods.”

And the final question:

“Do you have a picture?”

“No, I don’t. Nobody does.”

This is why all of us sprout some doubt about the reality of God, and in moments of weakness, may think he’s unlikely, or even that the whole idea is stupid.

As with everything else on this journey, you have to decide if you’re going to be an asshole or humble.

An asshole is the person who demands that people believe things they don’t understand.

A humble person knows that he or she is also human, is fully aware of the three questions, and does his or her best to break new revelations down to simpler realizations.

 

 

Sit Down Comedy … January 24th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

“Summarize that.”

“Make it shorter.”

“Fewer words, please.”

“No one will read anything that long.”

“How about just a tweet?”

I, for one, believe there’s a certain amount of charm in finding fewer words to express ideas. But sometimes, we just want less because we don’t want to hear more.

I smile when I hear writers begin articles with, “There’s so much to say…”

There may be much to say, but there’s a great need to scrunch it together and pitch it to the American public in a way that mingles thoughtfulness and good cheer.

You may or may not agree. But even though I realize great books have taken hundreds of chapters and billions of words to express eternal ideas, I must tell you, the appetite is gone for such mental munching.

So I need to be concise. Like:

“Take care of things and things will take care of you.”

The minute I start adding an explanation to this, I will probably lose my audience.

Another example:

“If you’re gonna to be mean, you’re gonna get mean, if you know what I mean.”

Once your head stops spinning from the overuse of the word “mean,” maybe you’ll get a good chuckle. But will it inspire you to stop being nasty to the world around you?

How about this?

“Don’t start a war if you aren’t willing to die.”

That may get a few “oohs and ahhs” from readers. But absent the recitation of the history of war’s futility, it might fall on deaf ears.

I did find one exception. It’s a premise that needs no explanation—an idea that does not require a series of verified testimonials.

Of all the things that have ever been said and all the things that have ever been written, this is the only principle that really needs to be followed.

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

For the sake of our discussion today, let us transform it:

To get mercy, give mercy.

We all need mercy. It’s why we invented the phrase, “unconditional love.” But you see, love without mercy is not only conditional, but is doomed to be temporary.

Mercy is what love becomes when we find out the truth about each other.

I love the definition of mercy:

A decision to become compassionate when it is in our power to do harm.

No word sums up the basic daily, fluid need of the human race more than mercy.

Love works beautifully when mercy is honored.

But love becomes discontented, frustrated and wounded if judgment is used instead of mercy.

It disappeared for a while during the Dark Ages.

Inkles of it sprouted to the surface, welcoming in the Renaissance.

Rephrased, it showed up in a document proposing freedom: “All men are created equal.”

Another hundred years and it’s found in an inauguration speech: “With malice toward none and charity for all.”

Unfortunately, in our time, mercy is deemed weakness.

But only mercy has the power to open the world to the freedom of living a lifespan without being killed in a war.

Isn’t that amazing?

Throughout the entire history of humankind, there were always wars to interrupt the lifespan of young men who might have lived to be old and wise but perished in combat.

War is foolishness when mercy is available.

Mercy does not allow our enemies to walk over the top of us—but mercy is fully aware that in defeating them, we more than likely will have to live with them afterwards. We should act accordingly.

There is no statement that is better suited to the human race: “give mercy, get mercy.”

Give mercy to the Earth and protect Mother Nature. You will get mercy.

Give mercy to your husband or wife and you will get mercy.

Give mercy to the animal kingdom and only deplete their ranks by what you absolutely need. You will get mercy.

Give mercy to your enemies for their clumsy attempts to frighten you. You will get mercy.

This is our universal slogan: Give mercy, get mercy.

Having the ability to inflict pain and harm, we choose mercy.

And because we choose mercy, when pain and harm come our way and we are due punishment, she has permission to step in and save us.

Sit Down Comedy … January 17th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

There are many ways to win the immediate approval of an audience.

You can:

  • Compliment their city.
  • Tell them how beautiful they look.
  • Inform them you have two children, but parenting seems to “escape you.”
  • Say “God bless America.”
  • Make sure they know you support the troops.
  • Tell them how much you love your wife, and you know that she’s “the boss.”
  • And of course, you can always call them exceptional.

Or you can say “America is exceptional.”

Most of these methods work real well because they feed on a common misconception: We’re happier when someone panders to us. Actually, in the long run we’re happier when someone alerts us to our obvious flaws.

I, for one, have no problem saying that America is exceptional as long as we determine the definition of “exceptional.” At the heart of the word is another word, which is “except.”

Except means to leave something out, to delete or to rid yourself of it—making sure it is not attached to you in any way, shape or form.

Exceptional is when you live around “crazy” but insist on removing that temptation from your mission.

To be exceptional, you have to accept what needs to be excepted.

If you don’t, you just end up being mediocre.

I agree that America has flirted with being exceptional. There have been times when we have made a stand as a nation—against barbarism, fanaticism and bigotry.

Then again, there are times when we stood in line to imitate the insanity of the world around us.

But let us presume that we actually want to be exceptional.

Then we must realize that we can only have freedom of speech when those words do not attack the freedom of another.

We can worship—but we have no right whatsoever to hate people. We must decide that hating people, disincluding people and despising people has no religious profundity.

If we’re going to be exceptional, we have to state loud and clear that it’s okay to be a politician—except you can’t lie.

You can be a parent–except you can’t be a hypocrite.

You can be a man–except you can’t hurt women.

You can be a woman–except you can’t hate men.

You can be in business–except you can’t cheat your customers or fail to take care of your employees.

If we truly want to be an exceptional nation, we must accept what we have to except from our conduct.

You can be a leader, except you must not act like a master.

You can be intelligent, except you must use it and therefore prove it.

Let’s work on being exceptional.

Let’s find out what is causing this world to be so uncertain and filled with tribulation and use our good cheer to overcome that imbalance by being the exception, and therefore becoming exceptional.

Truly, may the exception prove the rule.

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