Drawing Attention … September 5th, 2018

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … June 18th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Woman: Are you looking for equality?

 

Dear Man: Absolutely not.

 

Dear Woman: Well, I think I know you well enough that you’re not going to settle for inferiority–or pursue superiority.

 

Dear Man: That’s right.

 

Dear Woman: So isn’t the whole thing about equality? Even hearkening back to the Equal Rights Amendment?

 

Dear Man: That would have been a mistake. You see, the word “equality” is a trick. Thomas Jefferson used the word “equal” in the Declaration of Independence–while still owning slaves. For many years in the South, there was a proclamation of “separate but equal,” which was supposed to make everything right. But of course, it didn’t.

 

Dear Woman: So what you’re saying is, to a certain degree we are pursuing “separate but equal” between the sexes.

 

Dear Man: Exactly. We have created a Jim Crow situation between men and women with all the books, jokes and rules that are enforced in our society.

 

Dear Woman: I get it. Things like “man cave–chick flick.”

 

Dear Man: They connote that there’s equality–a place where each gender has dominion, but keeping us totally separate from each other.

 

Dear Woman: So is it possible to be separate and equal?

 

Dear Man: Not unless the power is equal. In other words, if men are in charge of almost everything, then the stream of equality that trickles down to women will be subject to their whim.

 

Dear Woman: Just like it was in the South during the Jim Crow era. They claimed equality, but because they were separate, and the white population had domination, the black folks had to rely on the white interpretation of equality.

 

Dear Man: You got it. It sounds a little complicated but it really isn’t. Separate but equal was the way the white community in the South tried to control things while making it look like they were creating equality.

 

Dear Woman: In other words, when we say women do this and men do that, we’re separating them off, while insisting that in the separation there is still equality.

 

Dear Man: That’s why I don’t want to be equal. I want to be equivalent.

 

Dear Woman: Interesting word. So where do you see the difference?

 

Dear Man: It’s a situation in which men and women head for the common ground–human. Attributes, emotions, preferences, desires and skills are not viewed by gender but instead, solely on talent and choice. We’re working on this in racial relationships–the black community is not trying to be equal. They’re trying to establish the fact that we’re all equivalent.

 

Dear Woman: This makes complete sense to me. Because even though I’m trying to be forward thinking on this issue, unfortunately, I still contend that there are things that women do better than men and vice versa.

 

Dear Man: Me, too. We were trained that way. So when it comes to the gender wars, we promote “separate but equal,” which has historically proven to be nearly worthless.

 

Dear Woman: So how do you think I can confirm to you that I believe you and I are equivalent?

 

Dear Man: That’s easy. Stop assuming. Stop assuming that I won’t like a football game. Stop assuming that I’d rather go shopping than help you fix a cabinet in the kitchen. And I’ll stop assuming that you won’t like a movie because someone declared it “for women.” And I won’t assume that you’re completely uninterested in an outfit I’m buying.

 

Dear Woman: Is it really that simple? Do you really think that will bring some resolution?

 

Dear Man: What it will bring is clarity–that we’re not looking for an equality that still allows for separation, but instead, an equivalency that gives us the right to enjoy what we want to enjoy without having to distinguish it “pink” or “blue.”

 

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn cover jon

 

Sympathizer … February 20, 2013

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Black Jon

Two Johns.

Two men living at the same time.

John Brown.

John Booth.

Two men with B names.

Two men with nine letters in their names.

Two sympathizers.

One a sympathizer for the cause of halting slavery.

The other, a sympathizer for maintaining the dignity of the south, states’ rights and  slavery

Both men took up the gun.

Both men ended up dying in Virginia.

Both men made the history books.

Both men took lives.

But one of these sympathizers, John Brown–although viewed by some to be a domestic terrorist–is revered as a forward thinking abolitionist and even a prophet, who foretold of a bloody struggle to rid our nation of the scourge of slavery.

The other, John Booth, a well-respected actor, took a small hand gun and walked into a theater and killed the President of the United States, thinking he would be known as a hero, and ending up arguably the most notorious man in US history.

In the season of their lives, they were viewed quite differently.

John Brown was hated, tried, convicted and hung–with John Booth in the gallery.

John Booth was considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of his time, and had at least half the nation believing in his cause of maintaining the integrity of the hinter lands and the necessity of slavery.

Move ahead in time.

John Brown was right.

John Booth was wrong.

*****

What did you think of my picture? I think I make a fairly striking black man, don’t you? Some people would think such a photograph is tasteless. I understand their sentiment. Many people are frightened of any semblance of controversy for fear it might lead to a discussion that demands transformation.

Some folks might think it’s clever–but only from an artistic angle, not realizing the significance of the timing of the artwork. For I am trying to learn to be a good sympathizer. I am studying what history, God, common sense, liberty and free will tell us are the landmark issues that cannot be restrained and must be allowed to play out with full bravado.

I am attempting to navigate course across a sea of confusion and land in a safe port, where in the future they will look at my dealings and say, “Jonathan Richard Cring made some good choices.”

I want to be a sympathizer. To do this, I must occasionally abandon my own predilections, sensations and even the tenets of my faith to allow free will to have its holy moment–because to remove liberty is to chase away the spirit of God.

I want to become a sympathizer. I want to find myself erring on the side of liberty instead of faltering in the fables of my youth. How can I know that I am sympathizing with the right causes? The truth is, I will never be a black man. How can I sympathize with my brothers and sisters and still demand of each one of us that we be conscious of goodness and mercy?

After much thought, I came up with a simple conclusion. I will allow you to muse over its deeper meaning:

You can’t build up any idea, organization, doctrine, faith or political movement that tears down other people. If you do, you will be John Booth instead of John Brown.

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Not Too Swift… October 27, 2012

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Human beings like to be right.

I am a human being.

Therefore I like to be right.

That is called a syllogism. In other words, if A=B and B=C, then therefore A=C.

I don’t share this with you to discuss principles of geometry. I put this thought into discussion because it is probably our greatest weakness. The fear of being wrong has caused people to continue errant ways long past reasonableness.

I saw this in myself last night. Having a night off from sharing my program, I turned on the television and watched a special about Taylor Swift. She is a twenty-two-year-old girl in country music who has set the world on fire with her songs, personality and diversity.

Now, I actually heard Taylor sing when she was a young girl of twelve–at a local middle school in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She was just another young lady in the school, involved in a talent show–but there was something special there.

Now for a bit of candor. When she released her first album and started her career on television, I was highly critical of her. She had some pitch problems and seemed awkward in her new position. Matter of fact, I made fun of her to my sons and family members. I pronounced a bit of doom and gloom for her career. I found her music to be trivial and her approach to be tentative and weak.

I do have a reputation for being right every once in a while, but it doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of being wrong. So as I watched the special last night about this dear young woman, I realized that she had not only superseded everyone’s expectations, but had also proven me to be a false prophet. Now she sings in tune, her songs are poignant and ripe with personal experience, and even though she’s been criticized strongly by people in the industry, she has kept a sweet spirit, hung in there and continued to excel. She is the personification of everything that old, grumpy people say young humans are incapable of achieving.

I was humbled by my stupidity. I was ashamed of the judgmental attitude which nearly eliminated a valuable voice from being considered–at least by the members of my own family. And even though I have an excellent reputation for being insightful, I missed it on this one.

So you see, I thought all of this to myself and even repented within my own heart of being so flat and without mercy. I was convinced that this was sufficient–that I had no need to inform anyone else of my past nasty behavior. But–that’s just not true.

Some things need to be repented of in public. Otherwise, our private moment of contrition is lost and unknown to those who need to hear it the most.

This is why the Republicans and Democrats need to admit their part of the responsibility in today’s problems. It is why the South needs to continually make it clear that slavery, prejudice and the old Confederacy are a part of their dark past. It is why the President of the United States needs to explain that he bit off more than he could chew, but since he’s in the middle of chewing on it, it might be ridiculous to switch mouths.

It is why the Republicans should be honest–that the Iraqi war and many of their policies brought our country to the brink of bankruptcy. (For after all, it was not Osama bin Laden‘s goal to merely kill 3000 people on 9/11. No, from his private collection of videos, it is crystal clear that what he wanted to do was paralyze the US in a series of vengeful wars.)

Contrary to public opinion, repentance is not a private matter. It is why the Bible demands that we bring forth fruit–so that it’s obvious to all comers and goers that our past actions were filled with error.

So let me say it loud and clear–I was not too swift. I failed to give a young girl a chance to be herself, discover her talent, and establish the beauty of her gift in our presence. Here are three things I need to keep in mind, and maybe you’d like to add them to your collection of procedures also:

1. Don’t be conventional. Remember, life is not a convention of fellow believers, but rather, more like a cafe, where you arrive famished and discover that the waiter doesn’t speak English.

2. Being wrong is smart if it’s your idea. Don’t wait around for the final exam, when the teacher and other students will discover how ignorant you are when your grade is posted on the bulletin board.

3. People get better. Give them space and give them time–and of course, both of these thing minus your interference and gossip.

So my apologies to Taylor Swift for judging her when she was still on the vine. My apologies to my family and friends for being a premature grumper. And my apologies to myself for being prejudiced and missing the opportunity of being on the cutting edge of a great idea instead of casting the first stone.

There are times that I’m just not too “Swift.” This one was “Taylor” made … for me.

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