Complexion

Complexion: (n) the natural color, texture, and appearance of a person’s skin

Sometimes I want to laugh, and I’m told it’s not permissible. They connote it would be disrespectful or place me out of step with the times.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But I find it very difficult to take one matter seriously–after tens of thousands of years of habitation on the Earth, human beings are still evaluating one another by complexion–and not only evaluating, but feeling the need to live out a personality, a lifestyle, and a culture because of the hue of their skin.

But on this, the liberals and conservatives agree: there are many different cultures with many different customs unique unto them, which are often initiated simply due to the color of skin.

So if you’re a black person you don’t just have a darker complexion–you also need to be in agreement with your ancestors, going all the way back to Africa, which many Americans who have black skin might not even be able to identify on a map.

And if you’re a rosy-cheeked person who has relatives who were once Vikings, you must surely have an affinity for hard work, brats and beer (while denying rape and pillaging.)

I’m a mess. Ends up that I do have a color to my complexion, but enjoy perks from all different cultures and styles.

When will the Earth be able to solve its problems?

When our thinking has a deeper tone than our complexion.

 

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Anti-American

dictionary with letter A

Anti-American (adj): hostile to the interests of the United States; opposed to Americans.

If you will allow me to characterize an entire nation in the context of the growth spurt of an average human being, I would put forth that our country is presently in the midst of a seventeen-year-old, bratty, rebellious snit.

Anyone who’s had children and endured the pangs of adolescence will be familiar with the sneering comment coming from your teenage child: “It’s my life. It’s a free country. And if you love me, you’ll support me in my decisions.”

Honestly, we did not become a great country through finding a contortionist’s trickery to kiss our own ass. Our greatness is punctuated by the times we have discovered the fallacy of our own practices and pursued avenues to build a highway to better understanding.

To arrogantly insist that every suggestion that America might need to make some sort of constructive course correction is an attack against our nation is nothing short of high school insolence.

Here are three things I know about my country, I love about my country, and therefore insist that my country continue:

1. We believe in giving.

The minute we start thinking that we are too generous and therefore should take more, we will become the latest dinosaur.

2. We are a free country and therefore capable of changing our mind to better solutions.

I am sick and tired of having the Constitution presented as a docile, stagnant document. It has so far been amended twenty-seven times, and certainly shall be again.

3. We have stated on paper that we believe “all men are created equal” and that no one is better than anyone else.

Even though we’re catching up with our own high-sounding ideas through a bit of painful implementation, we have taken the bold step of declaring an eternal truth.

As long as these three principles are pursued by my nation, I will applaud and sprout a tear or two when Old Glory comes marching by.

When we retreat from them through cowardice or lethargy, I will be in the front of the protest, demanding we return to our standards … and risk being called anti-American by the lazy and ignorant riff-raff.  

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Anschluss

dictionary with letter A

Anschluss: (v) the annexation of Austria by Germany

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if somebody had caught little Jack before he became the Ripper, and told the lad never to play with knives?

Or maybe if there had been somebody in the house of little Johnny of the Booth clan, saying that black people aren’t really meant to be slaves?

It would have been nice if someone would have caught Jeffrey Dahmer yelling at a cat and mistreating one before he went on a killing rampage.

There are moments reserved for the brave.

They happen to all of us.

Yes, each and every one of us have “crazies” in our lives.

For instance, several people were responsible for Adolph Hitler–and because they didn’t want to interfere or be judgmental, they decided to let him proceed in his growing insanity.

It would have been wonderful if the British and the Americans would have made a big deal over Hitler annexing this little piece of Austria. Why? Because Hitler wasn’t ready for war at that point.

He thought he was. But what created his war machine was the confidence that grew in his troops as they conquered Europe.

Yes, by the time he got to annexing France, he became nearly unbeatable.

I thought about this a lot when I was a father, raising my children. Sometimes I was tired and it was easier not to make the object lesson, calling out bad behavior. Matter of fact, sometimes it seemed noble to “let one slide.”

But I rarely did.

Because facts are … the little confrontation you have today always eliminates the war which could rage later.

 

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Ann Arbor

dictionary with letter A

Ann Arbor: a city in southeastern Michigan; home of the University of Michigan.

It was a gray, overcast day–a bit of chill in the air, threatening some sort of storm, whether the precipitation would be merely wet or partially frozen.

But I was sweating.

I had literally broken a surface sweat around my temples and under my armpits. I was nineteen years old, and for the first time in my life, I was about to cross the border into Michigan.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but being from Central Ohio and a fan of the Buckeyes since birth, I had not only been infused with a competitive spirit toward the University of Michigan, but had basically been convinced that north of Toledo lay the barbarian horde.

So intense was this training that upon entering the state, a mere forty miles from the seat of hell in Ann Arbor, I not only found fault with the scenery, but in my mind, generated sinister proportions to every ditch and tree.

There were things I knew about Michigan just from the passing conversations of my friends and family:

  1. They were all mean and hated their children.
  2. They wanted to do harm to all Ohio women.
  3. They weren’t really Americans.
  4. They despised God.
  5. And of course, they cheated at football.

My problem was that I was on my way to Ann Arbor to do a gig, and somehow or another, I would have to muster the courage and professionalism to treat them as humans instead of creatures from the Black Lagoon, the source of their power.

What was particularly annoying was that the concert where I performed was very enjoyable, the audience generous, and I walked out with more money than I had made in weeks.

Damn those tricky Wolverines–trying to seduce me with filthy lucre.

But I maintained my loyalty to the great Ohio, and as I retreated back to the safe haven of my home, on those forty miles to the border, I held my breath half the time … so as to make sure that I didn’t inhale the Michigan spirit.

 

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Advise

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Advise: (v) to offer suggestions about the best course of action to someone

You can spend your time lamenting why things are the way they are, or you can learn how they are and make clever adjustments to try to restore them to normalcy.

That’s the truth.

So with that in mind, let me tell you that giving advice is similar to playing tennis with a third leg protruding from the middle of your back. At first you might think it’s a good idea, but when you get out there, hittin’ the ball, you pretty much want to reach back there and yank the thing off.

Let me say it loud and risk the critique of those around me: Americans don’t take advice. So don’t advise them. They feign interest. They pretend to be intrigued if they think you have enough clout to be worthy of their ears, but they will just as quickly leave the room and go do things exactly the way they envisioned.

So here is my idea of what to do when the instinct to advise begins to tickle at the corners of your conscience:

  1. Find out what people really want to do and understand it thoroughly.
  2. Discover what parts of their aspiration are dangerous, illegal or stupid.
  3. Don’t share these discoveries with them directly.
  4. Take the balance of what is not self-destructive in the plan and encourage it heavily.

There you go.

Even though there is conventional wisdom which says there is great benefit in a multitude of counselors, this is only true if you listen to them. Since listening is not only a lost art, but more like a Nazi book burning–totally rejected by most people as they dance around the fire–it’s a good idea to establish a pattern of encouragement for smart while ignoring stupid.

  • If we did this in politics, for example, we could soon eliminate bad ideas by giving them no air play.
  • If we did it in religion, the better parts of God which benefit humankind, could be thrust to the forefront, while ignoring abstract traditions.
  • And if we did it in our personal lives, we would soon find that the weird things we’re pursuing are actually rather boring in the long run, and we could turn vegetables into candy. (Well, I went too far there. But at least we could find things to pour over vegetables which would make them edible.)

So you can feel free to ask for advice, but you must understand that folks expect you to heed it.

The best thing to do is to pay close attention to what works, what blesses, what enhances and what uplifts … and try to do that again tomorrow.

 

Abide

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abide: 1. v.  accept or act in accordance with a rule, decision or recommendation 2. unable to tolerate: “I cannot abide…” 3. of a feeling or memory–continue without fading or being lost

As is often the situation when I hear the definitions for these words, I realize that I have created my own mental dictionary of what things mean, frequently having absolutely no basis.

I always thought “abide” meant to hang around, like three guys on a Saturday afternoon sprawled across the room, telling stories about what they wish they could do, will probably never do, but will insist someday when they’re old that they did.

I thought abiding was what faith, hope and love did because they were built into the woodwork and history of the framework.

Abiding is NOT hanging around. Abiding is hanging in there.

I realize that’s what’s missing from my life, and maybe the lives of many Americans. As long as you want us to just “hang around,” we’re fine. But the minute you define the cause, point out a specific direction or demand a commitment, we put into practice our well-rehearsed list of excuses and go “splitsville.”

Hanging in there is a tough thing.

I remember once playing a football game, and at the end of the first quarter our team was down 32-0. The prospects of victory were slim. We were unable to stop the other team from scoring and only felt satisfaction that we were bolstering their egos and padding their stats. But you see, it was the end of the first quarter. There were three more of them to come. The danger in football is that if you play the game halfway, you’re much more likely to get injured. So it was definite that even though we were going to get smeared, we would have to see the game through to the end.

So we set some small goals. For instance, hiking the ball and handing it off without fumbling. Another one was tackling the opponent before he gained twenty yards. And certainly the most important aspiration that kept us “hanging in there” was to make sure the final score was not 128-0.

We lost the game 64-0, having held them to 32 points in the final three quarters.

Although humiliating, we left the field uninjured and just a little bit tickled that we survived such an absolute cataclysmic event without committing suicide.

Abiding is hanging in there–which only gives us one major goal: find something worthy of our hanging.