Jesonian … September 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I think you’re right, Johann.

Turning the other cheek can be scary on many levels. Some people think it’s ridiculous–they contend that if you don’t fight back, you’ll be destroyed.

But here’s the problem with fighting: nobody fights to lose.

Did you hear that? That means if a discussion becomes an argument and ends up being a fight, the individual who is trained the most to be violent and has the greater stamina will win the day.

Do we really want that?

Some years ago I stumbled on a fist fight in an alley in a large city. A little crowd had gathered because two men who were obviously over-soaked in alcohol had decided to square off.

The whole affair lasted less than thirty seconds, because within fifteen seconds of swinging at each other–and mostly missing–they were so out of breath that they had to crumple to their knees just to gain air.

God forgive me–I laughed.

We want to come across so tough, yet are we actually willing to fight? And if we decide to fight, are we going to get ourselves in shape at a level of anger to win?

There are three things for certain:

If you’re going to destroy an eye in someone else, you have to be willing to lose one yourself.

If you’re going to kill the enemy, you must be prepared to die.

And if you’re going to get physical with your retaliation, you must have the skill to overcome the person that is coming at you.

Johann, Jesus said this was unrealistic. Who has the time, in the middle of trying to live a joyous, giddy and peaceful life, to go into the gym and train to be a killer?

So sometimes, instead of punching back, you lay back, and see if conversation can return instead of taking something to blows.

It is scary.

It’s scary for the person who has to do it, and it’s very scary for the person who is facing such courage.

Turning the other cheek is not an option. It is the only doorway available for most of us humans who don’t want to spend our lives lifting weights and punching bags.

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Ask Jonathots … April 14th, 2016

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My son, a sophomore in high school, has a part-time job at a fast food restaurant. He came home talking about making fifteen dollars an hour when the minimum wage is raised. I’m not against raising the minimum wage, but at the same time, I don’t really think my high schooler really needs that wage. What do you think?

Paying people based on what they require is un-American.

It may sound good–it may seem generous. It may even temporarily appease the aching need of some folks who are living on the cliff of poverty. But it is un-American.

I will go as far as to tell you that it is also un-Christian.

At no time in the ministry of Jesus did he suggest that the best way to handle the poor was to drop everything you were doing, sell everything you had, change all your policies, reject your own desire for financial prosperity, and divvy up the money more evenly, so that “those who have a frown can turn it upside down.”

The most important thing any government program should encourage is initiative.

If you’re going to do the same work you did before, but make twice the amount of money doing it, you’re not stimulating productivity.

No, you have just purchased yourself a baby alligator. At first the little amphibian sitting in his bowl appears harmless and kind of cute. But it will not remain a small alligator. It will grow until it eats you.

Likewise, giving people more money for what they’re already doing without demanding additional increase in effort is the formula for disaster. It is not an issue of being a conservative or a liberal, but rather, taking a more intelligent political stance: practical.

If I allow myself to be concerned about the wages my employees are receiving based on their monthly needs, I will soon lose sight of the goal of my company, which is to make money and thrive so I can hire more people.

What we need is a compromise with a caveat.

  • The compromise is a dollar amount which is more representative of the work and the financial climate.
  • And the caveat is that this extra money will require additional training and pursuit of excellence.

Hand-outs take people off their feet.

And our economy runs on foot power, not charity.

So even though it may seem noble and may get the vote of tens of thousands of hourly wage Americans, to suggest that they should double their intake for the same amount of output…well, it is completely unnecessary and certainly un-human.

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Ask Jonathots …December 10th, 2015

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I am the mother of a fourteen-year-old boy who is playing football on his junior high school team. I am concerned about him continuing because of the new information about concussions. He’s playing wide receiver and he’s very fast and talented, and my husband totally disagrees and thinks I’m just worrying about nothing. I don’t. What do you think?

  • Worry is useless.
  • Worry must take a journey.
  • Worry must become concern, which pursues knowledge and ends up with action.

Your husband, lacking worry, probably feels he is doing a good thing by being open-minded and willing, but it is only a good thing if it’s based on truth, and not merely wishing.

Here are the things you need to know about a young man playing football:

1. The position is everything.

If he is undersized for his position, playing against boys who are larger, stronger and hit harder, then it is not good. If he’s playing against boys his own size, then he has a much better chance of escaping injury.

2. Training.

To play football, you must condition your body to accept punishment for a given time. It also demands that you be smart. At fourteen years of age, he needs to understand that as a receiver, if he’s running across the middle of the field and the pass thrown to him is way over his head, there is no need to leap in the air, leaving himself vulnerable to a hit. Some coaches would disagree with me on this, but most receivers are injured because their quarterbacks threw them a bad pass, which they tried to heroically catch.

3. Don’t give in to pressure.

In other words, if your son experiences a hit that leaves him bleary or with a headache, he should get himself off the field and not try to be macho.

4. Realize that the better you play the game–the harder you hit–the less likely it is that you will be hurt.

5. Check out the equipment.

What is the quality of his helmet? Does it fit correctly? All of these things are important in protecting the brain.

6. Find out what your coach and your local league feel about the concussion issue.

Are they calling penalties for targeting? Are they making fun of the notion of concussions, or are they taking it seriously?

7. Check with your doctor.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have your son checked before he plays football, to make sure that he’s sound and ready, with an exam that’s a bit more comprehensive than the normal athletic physical.

Football is a wonderful sport because it teaches teamwork. It also imparts the value of personal effort.

But make sure your worry becomes concern and pursues knowledge, for the more you know about it, the better off you will be.

Don’t teach your son to be afraid.

Frightened people get hurt.

Teach him to be smart and respectful of others who share the field with him.

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Unboxed … February 10, 2013

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jon in a boxFor eighteen years I had a “born” identity. My family, friends, schooling and even church did their best to teach me, basically, what was wrong. They would have insisted they were instructing me in the ways of righteousness, but more often than not it consisted of a series of warnings about dubious behavior and the ramifications of stepping out of the box of security found in “the training.”

I will not tell you it was an unpleasant experience–and certainly not without merit. But it was limited because it failed to give me the emotional release allowing me to live freely among my fellow men and women without feeling the need to scrutinize.

I guess I rebelled a little. My particular path to revolution was to pursue the creative and spiritual. I gained a “reborn” identity. In this new transformed personage, I went out looking for what was right. I did so like a sheep in the midst of wolves, often failing to use the wisdom necessary to discern the charlatans that came my way.

My disappointments in finding what was “right” made me flirt with the dangerous depths of being jaded. It took me a while. I knew that the box I had built for myself was no better than the one provided to me at birth. After all, a prison of our own construction isn’t any more releasing than one constructed for us. I knew I had to once and for all escape boxes. For to merely understand what is wrong, or to pursue what is right, is the path to madness. Just as soon as you think you have arrived at permanent conclusions, a shift in the universe, an outpouring of the mercy of God or just a bit of logic that may have escaped you moves through the scene and leaves you in error, looking ignorant.

I decided one day to become unboxed–a new creature, neither bound by my genetics, upbringing or held in place by my talents and desires. It really wasn’t that complicated. I decided to stop pleasing my family and satisfying my own desires and appetites, and instead, became a student of history, reality and free will. For it is the cohesion of those three that creates truth.

As we study what has happened before us (history), appreciating what is available to us (reality) and understanding that the personal choice given to every man, woman and child is immutable (free will), we finally touch the mind of God, arriving at truth.

It’s made all the difference in the world to me.

I now realize that my job is to recognize the truth–and even when it’s contrary to my ways or confirming of my inclinations, knowing that truth and embracing it is what makes me free.

But free to do what? Escape the box and be on the edge of beautiful, inevitable change.

It’s not so much about being a liberal or a conservative. It isn’t even about Christian, Muslim, Jew atheist and Hindu. It’s about being willing to allow the lessons of history, the value of reality and the love of free will to welcome truth into your heart, to grant you freedom.

So what will be the next big issue? I can either live in the box created for me by my family and judge accordingly. Or I can evaluate circumstances based upon the box I’ve created for myself. But if I want to be a new creature, free of all those boxes–unboxed–I must let the truth make me free.

Sometimes the truth is cruel to me. Sometimes the truth feels warm and cuddly.

But the truth is always freeing.

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The Missing Interview … August 14, 2012

  • Loser — Part 1
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During the Olympics, when they had an interview with visitors to London about the various styles of fish and chips, you realized that they had reached the end of possibilities for making the event any more marketable. After all, seventeen days is a long time. Even when you’re talking about athletes from 204 nations converging on a single city in an action of sporting pleasure and worldwide unity, it still loses some of its glimmer when you cross about twelve days–especially when you consider the rewards system.

Because in the midst of all that coverage, there are many interviews with many people who are participating and later winning in the games. I listened to them intently and like everyone else, was deeply impressed with those athletes who won gold medals, especially in multiples. I found it somewhat interesting when they would have a conversation with a particular sportsman from a small nation who won a silver medal which ended up being the only one his country acquired.

But the obvious missing interview was the discourse with the individual who, through much effort and training, was able to win four bronze medals.

A set of 1998 Winter Olympics medals on displa...

A set of 1998 Winter Olympics medals on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, for some reason or another, NBC, which certainly became desperate for feature stories, still did not consider a third-place finisher who had achieved it several times to be worthy of air time. Perhaps the Olympics was the beginning of the notion that prizes should be given not only to the winner, but also to those who come close.I’m sure I would feel differently if I was an athlete at the Olympic Village, but somehow or another, bronze leaves me cold. I’m not particularly thrilled with silver. And I know that I’m not alone here. Because even though they do tally the silver and bronze medals, it is worse than an afterthought, but rather, a necessity brought to our attention because the Olympic Committee decided to offer also-ran prizes.

Yes–the missing interview is with that guy or gal who won the most bronze medals. It’s just difficult to celebrate their position. It would be similar to attending a party of an individual who lost on Jeopardy! who decided to be festive by inviting all of his friends to his house to indulge in enjoying the Rice-a-Roni he got for third prize. It leaves something to be desired.

It’s not that I’m saying that people who come in third in the Olympics are mediocre. It’s just that we need to stop trying to make people feel that they have achieved what they really haven’t. All of us are trying to escape self-deception, and it doesn’t help when the world around us encourages it.

If you won a bronze medal, you’ve really lost. Maybe you came to London to win bronze. I guess that’s possible. But somewhere along the line in your training, even if you were pursuing third place, you would have a particularly good day of exercise and begin to believe that first place was possible–so therefore, disappointment is inevitable.

The only thing we all share in common is that we’re all, at one time or another, losers.

In other words, we lose. There are three deadly reactions to losing that eliminate us from further human contact: (1) anger–an abstract sense that life sucks and is not fair; (2) excuses–going through a litany of possible explanations of why you didn’t get gold; and (3) resignation–“oh, well, it was just never meant to be” or worse yet, “it was just God‘s will.” All three of those positions drive other human beings away like an odor hanging in the air from a busted port-a-potty.

What do you do when you’ve got five bronze medals that accurately telegraph to the world that you’re a loser?

1. Be grateful you’re healthy. In the pursuit of gold, you became a phenomenal physical specimen. Amazing. You are in a tiny percentile.

2. Realize that you got to play with the best. There is a difference between winning first place at your high school talent show and coming in third on American Idol. The difference is that you have a clear understanding of what it means to bark with the top dogs.

3. Know that you got to be part of something great. For the rest of your life you will get to say that you competed in the Olympics. Now, there’s always some jerk who will ask you if you won any medals. After about a year, bronze will start sounding better and better.

4. You learned what you can do and what you can’t. The beginning to all future success is putting your abilities to the test and finding out where you leak. You can plug the leaks or you can avoid exposing them. Either way, you’ve got information.

5. You can take the adventure and rather than experiencing humiliation, mature it into humility. When we are not ashamed of what we’ve done, we can be honest about our place in life. It gives us a humility that makes us attractive to our fellow-travelers. It is a benefit you receive only when you don’t win the gold.

So there you go. Even though there was a missing interview with that bronze champion, he or she will come out of the experience having been surrounded by the same intensity, beauty, power, fellowship and pageantry as all those who won gold.

It’s just a matter of taking the best from every experience and using it to increase your next possibility.

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