Attenuate

Attenuate: (v) to reduce the force, effect or value of dictionary with letter A

It does plague my thoughts.

Three years ago, my knees, which have always given me a little trouble, basically gave up on the notion of carrying around my weight and allowing me to be a normal “stroller.”

I considered my plight.

I could go to a doctor and check out knee replacements or treatments. Honestly, this would lay me up for several months and take me away from a mission which I feel compelled to pursue with, may I say, some sense of urgency.

So although I’m still able to get around to some degree, for any distance I utilize a wheel chair.

This was difficult for me. All my life I’ve been busy, active, traveling around the country sharing my talents. I didn’t like the sensation of being weak.

But worse than my feelings about the issue was my fear that I was limiting my impact because of the visual of my impairment. It bothered the hell out of me, and honestly, to some degree still does.

When do we cease to be powerful, disappointing in our delivery?

In other words, am I asking people to look past my fragility to accept my viability?

For after all, politics is attenuated by lies, religion is attenuated by intolerance and youthfulness is attenuated by foolishness.

When are we diluting ourselves, and therefore ending up deluded?

I’m not sure.

But as the weeks passed, I realized that in a strange sense, people admired me for continuing through the struggle.

Honestly, it’s not that big a deal.

But as long as it doesn’t attenuate my heart and soul … I guess I’ll just keep rolling along.

 

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Atrocious

Atrocious: (adj) horrifyingly wicked or of a very poor quality dictionary with letter A

There are two words that should be used sparingly: atrocious and what I consider to be its opposite–glorious.

There aren’t many things in life that are atrocious, and equally true, a limited amount of glorious.

If I were to speak anything into a microphone that would announce a truth to the whole world, it would simply be, “Calm down.”

It’s never as bad as you make it, nor as good as you fake it.

So I will list for you today the 5 things I think are atrocious. I welcome you to disagree with me, hoping that in the process you will be able to discover what is wickedly horrible.

My 5 atrocious things:

  1. The seeming total loss of common courtesy.
  2. The creation of heroes whom we later decide to destroy.
  3. Insisting that politics is doomed to be unethical.
  4. Religion with no heart.
  5. People who give up too easily.

There you go. If you combine those 5 things together, I believe you will end up with the aching boredom which permeates our society, often creating a frustrating void.

These are atrocious–at least to me. What do you think? Do you have a list?

Maybe someday I will get to “G” in the dictionary and I can give you my “glorious” list.

But probably not in this lifetime.

 

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Assert

Assert: (v) to state a fact or belief confidently and forcefully.dictionary with letter A

People certainly are more assertive than they used to be.

Sitting over a delicious breakfast of cereal this morning, my traveling partner asked me what I thought was different in our country since 2008.

I find that answer to be very simple: we have changed the default position of kindness to one of assertiveness.

We think it’s important to share our point, prove our point, defend our point and walk away from any conversation with our point not dulled.

So because of that, we have developed a rendition of the American culture and gospel of Jesus Christ mingled together which focuses on our own value to the detriment in consideration of others. It has happened so gradually that lots of people would take exception to this accusation.

But being assertive is not only risking being wrong, it is also cornering ourselves in what we have asserted, and makes us continue to stubbornly pursue ideas which may be ineffective.

So the politicians in our country assert that the problem is that people don’t vote, or that they have little concern for real issues, and that therefore, it is up to the politicians to guide the discussion and make the choices for the masses minus their involvement.

Religion spends so much time asserting either the sinfulness of mankind or our innate goodness that it fails to develop the truth which would make us free, which is that we are capable of good as we are also capable of evil.

And entertainment has no sense of responsibility for anything other than delivering a predictable round of art projects, which cause people to participate–unchanged.

I just don’t assert much anymore.

I think it’s important that the default position for dealing with human beings should be kindness, and that the default position for the work we do should be completion. Just those two things being in place would create a better country.

Because I can assert two definite truths in your direction:

  1. There is no law against kindness.
  2. And completing your work speaks for itself.

 

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Asian

Asian: (adj) of or relating to Asia or its people, customs, or languages.dictionary with letter A

True ignorance is any notion or false concept that would lead us to believe that we’re not ignorant.

I have spent my entire life trying to free myself from the ignorance of suspicion which was infused in me as a young man growing up in Middle America.

Although I can speak of my triumphs of creating a section of my brain that is prejudice-free and bent on equality, I must tell you that I will never be totally absent “eyeballing bigotry.”

“Eyeballing bigotry” is that first thought that pops into our minds when we see anybody who’s different from us and therefore doesn’t immediately gain acceptance. Of course, we reject this first impression in favor of more enlightened views, but it is still there.

  • Black people still see white people.
  • White people still see Asians.
  • Asians still see Hispanics.

Well, it goes on and on.

I think there are three keys to achieving the kind of natural maturity that will help us get along with each other, accept one another, find our similarities and generate tolerance:

1. Deep in my heart, I don’t believe there’s any difference between races and genders.

2. Yet in some corner of my brain, I still see your color and sex.

3. So let’s laugh about it.

When my son returned from China with his wife, who was most certainly Chinese, I was completely comfortable, overjoyed and pleased with his glorious emotional acquisition. Yet the Midwest boy returned and I felt a bit uncomfortable at first–being “whitey” in the presence of the Asian girl. Rather than taking it seriously, I laughed at it, because not only was she intelligent, beautiful, valuable and present, but also in many ways she was more American than me. At least in a “hip” sense.

So it’s not so much that we occasionally burst forth with the ridiculous statement that Asians are “good in mathematics but horrible drivers” as it is essential that we follow that with the immediate realization of the limitations of such a proclamation–and giggle at ourselves.

In so doing, we won’t be looking for evil empires, dark religions and sinister terrorists, but instead, take the world on one by one–as solitary people.

 

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Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday: (n) the first day of Lent in the Western Christian Church, marked by services of penitence.dictionary with letter A

I like making lemonade.

The recipe is simple. Make it strong and sweet, and then add water to taste. If you’re going to put it over ice, you don’t really need to add any water.

You don’t have to come up with the perfect blend as long as you don’t make it too weak to begin with. Because after all, it is impossible to make stronger lemonade after you’ve already watered it down.

The same is true with people.

I would much rather have them strong and let time, experience and wisdom add the water of humility to them. Making them weak through anemic philosophy and then being upset with them when they fail at tasks or don’t have the gumption to keep up and continue is mean-spirited.

Faith offers us the pungency of life and then nature waters us down with humility. We don’t need religion to come along and tell us how weak we really are or smear ashes on our faces during Ash Wednesday to confirm our decrepit condition.

Life does a real good job with that.

So when we tell people they’re “filthy sinners” and they’re “unworthy” and they come face-to-face with life, which will also mercilessly point out their inadequacies, we are not raising children of the kingdom of God, but rather, nervous, twitching, frustrated and cowering victims.

  • Jesus did not come to take away our lives, but instead, to give us life.
  • Jesus did not come to temper our joy, but instead, to give us full joy.
  • Jesus did not come to tell us that we are bland and have no salt, or dim and have no light. He proclaimed us the “light of the world,” flavored with the “salt of the earth.”

As for me. I do not need ashes smeared on my face to remind me that I am often sullied by my own vices and weaknesses.

What I need is a faith that lifts me up so that when my lemonade is diluted … it still tastes sweet.

 

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Ascend

Ascend: (v) to go up or climb or rise through the air.dictionary with letter A

There are really three definitions, aren’t there? And by the way, quite different.

For after all, if I go up the stairs, it means that somebody has already constructed a passage, built the system and may even have taken the precaution of providing a handrail.

If I climb, it means that no such provision has been made for me, and I am taking my brute force to grab onto whatever is stationary to pull myself up.

And if I rise, then some tide of energy has come beneath me and lifted me without requiring my effort or even stepping up the stairs.

But the end result is the same. I ascend.

Some people are enamored by the process of controlling all the factors and formulating a plan to provide a solution to what seems to be an “insurmountable problem.”

Other people enjoy the sheer gut determination of using only their own prowess to place them in a higher position.

And then there are those who are completely infatuated with the supernatural and want to believe that without the help of some divine energy, little is accomplished.

Call me strange. I am very willing to stop and allow God to be God. But on those occasions when God is not available or for some reason has chosen to refrain from using His magic wand, I will make use of the stairs provided to get me to the next level. And certainly, if it’s important enough and I feel motivated and called to do so, I will climb against the grain to achieve a bird’s-eye view.

  • All three are important.
  • All three transform us.
  • And in my mind, all three should be included and given their due respect as we admit to one another that to remain in a lower position simply out of pride or fear is to fail to attain the heights of glory.

 

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Arduous

dictionary with letter A

Arduous: (adj) involving or requiring strenuous effort.

Are you ready?

I’m gonna pitch you a movie idea.

Fade in:

Man wakes up in the morning, discovers he doesn’t have a razor to shave his beard. Rather than complain to his wife or go out into the world unshorn, he gingerly reaches into the shower, removing his wife’s Lady Bic, peering around the room cautiously to make sure he’s not observed.

He slathers his face with shaving cream and carefully runs the precious object across his face, freeing himself of jungle fuzz. He rinses the borrowed object with great intensity, placing it back into the shower, smiling into the mirror as he splashes his face with his favorite cologne, turning and heading out the door with a smile.

What do you think? Are you ready to invest?

Of course not.

No one would make this movie, because it is a tale of a human being finding a way to work things out without becoming exasperated, frenzied or completely debilitated by circumstance.

Somewhere along the line we’ve convinced ourselves that if our lives are not filled with arduous tasks, then we’re really not grown-up and we haven’t proven our mettle. With that desire to appear mature, we’ve taken things that should be simple and made them as painful as possible, whether politics, business, family life or religion. The more hot coals we can walk over, the more we are convinced of achievement.

If there is a line being formed by those who are looking for less arduous ways to approach life, I would like to get into it.

I’m never proud of myself when I become exasperated. I don’t feel manly swearing at traffic or frustrated because my hammer decided to hit my thumb instead of the nail. Cursing doesn’t strike me as a sign of strength, but rather, evidence of the little child that failed to die sometime after puberty.

There may be arduous tasks. Most of them are not what we perceive them to be.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself, or anyone else, is having a mechanism in your soul which sucks up problems that seem insurmountable … and spits out simplicity.

 

 

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