Chastise: (v) to rebuke or reprimand severely.

I was thoroughly convinced that my kids were going to remember their childhood by benchmarking the exciting trips, opportunities or gifts I gave them.

But as I sit around with them now, at holidays, and they feel free to open up about their journeys of being my offspring, rarely do they refer
to a camping trip or a special dinner at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

All of them recount the moments when their errors were brought to the forefront, and it was commanded of me, as their parent, to chastise. Sometimes they do object to the severity of my application, but mostly they are extraordinarily grateful that I was able to muster the backbone to stand up against trends of the time and try to tell them the truth to the best of my ability.

It’s actually a very moving experience, when I realize they understand that it is required to chastise those you love.

So even though I have no squabble with the common thought that love, exhortation, hugs, kisses and praise are very important parts of a child’s security, I also know that there comes a moment when time stands still–and it is the mission of the parent to stop the progression of ignorance, and encourage a better solution.

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Buckle: (v) to join the ends of a belt or strap.

“One, two, buckle my shoe…”

I remember when I was a kid, I asked my teacher what that meant. She explained that long ago people hadDictionary B buckles on their shoes.

I peered at her, frowning. She laughed. “It doesn’t change how good the rhyme is.”

She was right–especially when you consider the power of the concept of, “…three, four, shut the door.”

But “five, six, pick up sticks” still confuses me.

And then, for some reason, after “eight” we’re supposed to “lay them straight.”

And for the final act, we have a “big, fat hen.”

(Maybe our forefathers did take drugs.)

Yet, what do we buckle?

Belts. Do people still wear belts? Not as much as they used to, though I’m sure I will be contradicted.

Actually, we’ve grown plumper in this country, so most of us have a belly that holds our pants up quite well.

We do buckle our seat belts, though I think now we say, “Put on your seat belt.” They don’t really buckle–they snap.

So what use for ae buckle?

Matter of fact, the word has taken on the responsibility of donning a new personality.

Now when we use the word “buckle” we are usually talking about “buckling under pressure.”

“Buckle at the knees.”

To buckle is to give in to surrounding circumstances, failing to exhibit adequate backbone.

I wonder if it hurt your backbone when you bent over to buckle your shoes…


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Boring: (adj) not interesting; tedious.

I used to be deathly afraid of being boring.Dictionary B

Because of this phobia, I almost accidentally became friends to my children instead of a good parent, denied my faith rather than creating a backbone for my principles, and attempted ridiculous entertainment projects to prove I was youthful and alive.

I don’t know why “boring” scared me so badly–except in our particular American culture, it is the word that ushers in the “last rites” for misunderstood ideas.

In other words, if something is determined to be boring, it is soon abandoned and left to die in the field of forgetfulness.

But then one day it struck me–every great notion and progressive invention in the history of our race was at one time considered boring.

Can you imagine Thomas Edison explaining to all the people who deeply loved candles and gas light lamps how his incandescent bulb might be able to work better, and ultimately even be cheaper?


Or how about Abraham Lincoln, stumping to his Cabinet and Congress, how the addition of the freed slaves to our everyday life would give us a great brotherhood to exemplify the idea of liberty?

Really boring.

Or the guy named Salk, who came along and said that just weeping over children with polio was not enough–that maybe we could come up with some sort of vaccination to protect them from the disease instead of just praying for them and telling stories about their hideous struggles.

No thanks, Jonas.

Boring is not what is truly misplaced or ill-timed. It is the piece of truth that we do not yet understand, which we decide is meaningless because it mystifies our limited reasoning.

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Battle: (n) a sustained fight between large, organized armed forces.Dictionary B

I think I have a new favorite stupid statement–even though I must admit that “favorite stupid statement” may be an oxymoron.

Nevertheless, I, for one, am tired of hearing people say, “I pick my battles.”

What an audaciously ridiculous notion. It’s really just an excuse for prefacing our cowardice.

In other words, “I have no intention of displaying a backbone in this situation. I have only a certain number of battles I can wage, and this is not going to be one of them.”

Let me make it clear that throughout my journey, I have never seen the time when I could pick my battles.

My battles are laid out in front of me, and I can either choose to fight them, or run away and pretend like I’m looking for “higher ground.”

“I pick my battles” is the phrase that kept stupidity alive in our country, prejudice in full force, bigotry operating successfully and talent relegated to the back row.

We don’t pick our battles.

The battles exist.

And we can choose to either participate, or be part of the people who pretended to march on the side of righteousness or who insist that if it ever happens again, they will be in the front lines.


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Backbone: (n) the series of vertebrae extending from the skull to the pelvis; the spine.Dictionary B

It is what makes us Homo Erectus, which is really not a dirty term.

It means that we’re able to stand on two feet instead of crawl on four.

The spine itself is pretty important. People find out exactly how valuable when they accidentally break it.

But the term “backbone” is normally used to refer to some gumption that might suddenly come into the average person’s decision to be counted as something other than a sheep.

Matter of fact, I can tell you of a certainty, if you’ve never stood up for something eternal in a roomful of detractors, you’ve probably missed out on a particular portion of human growth that takes you from stooped over to standing tall.

Now, here’s the issue: what causes are worthy of such lonely last stands?

Because truthfully, there are many things that claim to be essential and are later declared either silly or maybe even dangerous.

I’ve always had a simple answer to that question: Anything that stifles joy is evil.

Now, I’m not talking about the maniac who joyfully murders people. I mean the basic units of human joy, which are:

  1. I am happy to be alive.
  2. I am happy you’re alive.
  3. I am happy we share this life together.
  4. I am hoping this happiness will continue.

Every time I’ve run across anyone who has tried to eliminate this glorious possibility, I’ve made a stand.

Many years ago, I wrote a play which included dancing, and I took it to some churches, where great objections were offered due to the fact that these evangelicals deemed choreography to be immoral.

I made a stand against them. I was one fellow in a room of 30 arguers. But I had no doubt.

Dancing brings joy. And “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” And since it appears in the very Bible that most of them thought they were defending, I thought I was on pretty safe turf.

Years passed, and dancing is now included in worship services of every denomination.

What is the new attitude which is stifling joy?

Find it. Get some backbone.

And speak for what will last … instead of being intimidated by what is popular.


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Authoritarian: (adj) favoring or enforcing strict obedience

There is a general misconception in the human race that to avoid being walked on by other people, you need to do a little walking yourself.dictionary with letter A

It creates a sadness in us. For after all, if you believe you’re going to lose the game it’s hard to play it with vigor.

Because when we’re walked on we lose. And of course, when we walk on other people we are also the defeated.

In the course of my life I have. at one time or another, had everyone who loves me proclaim me to be an authoritarian figure, inflexible to their needs.

Actually what I have tried to do in my life is avoid walking, and instead, develop some backbone for standing.

There are periods when the world around me decided to go crazy. Of course, it was not perceived as idiocy, but rather, was the new trend, the new patriotism, the new faith, or the new business venture.

Simply by deciding not to participate in the mania happening around me, I was perceived to be authoritarian–especially when I insisted that those of my household join me in a vigil of solitude.

I had no desire to rule or reign. I also had no desire to be pulled in twenty-five different directions by inclinations which I knew in my heart to be false. So I didn’t buy into a lot of things.

  • I didn’t join the Moral Majority in becoming anti-gay.
  • Trickle-down economics never made sense to me because it relies on rich people to suddenly become generous.
  • Even though I believe that America affords every citizen the right to choose, I cannot condone abortion as being anything but murder.
  • I stood against the war in Iraq and even wrote a musical rebuke of the notion that the seeds of freedom could be grown in that fallow soil.
  • I lived in the South and objected to streets that were named after known white supremacists.
  • And today, I will tell you that legalizing marijuana is a complete breakdown of understanding a youthful culture that has always considered it to be a gateway drug.

In the process of holding these feelings dear to my heart, I do occasionally share them humbly with those around me, hoping to win over converts to some common sense.

There are those who view this as authoritarian.

I do not want authority–I want freedom with responsibility. Because freedom without responsibility always ends up with someone hurt.

It’s rather doubtful that you will be able to live your life without someone trying to walk over the top of you. If you return in kind, the vicious walking continues.

But sometimes all of us need to make a stand and stop being affected by the tides of popularity which are trying to introduce a wave of confusion.

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dictionary with letter AAntietam: historic site in northwestern Maryland, known as Antietam Creek, the scene of a major Civil War battle in September of 1862.

It was a lost cause.

Unless you’re a careful student of history, you may fail to realize that Abraham Lincoln was probably the most hated man in America.

Not only had he been elected President, causing the South to secede from the Union, but he had also made a decision to surround himself, in his cabinet, with competitors and critics.

When the war began, it was a fiasco. At the First Battle of Bull Run, the South nearly ended the entire conflict with one day’s murder and mayhem. But Lincoln continued, searching for a means to keep the country together, and possibly in the process, heal some old wounds and atone for the sins of slavery.

The problem was, the North couldn’t win a battle. Not even close.

So rather than being considered a great leader or a man of vision, he was viewed by his contemporaries as a clumsy goofball, ill-prepared for the challenge of repairing the breach.

He kept replacing generals in charge of the Army of the Potomac, hoping that someone might grow a backbone or at least field an army.

Lincoln had two goals:

Primary was to keep the Union together, for a reason which he almost singularly held within his breast. Everyone else had varying degrees of indifference on the issue.

But secondly, he realized that emancipating the slaves was not only an important step of contrition, but also would keep England and France out of the war,siding with the Confederacy. But it was certainly difficult to issue any kind of Proclamation in the midst of defeat.

The Battle of Antietam was a standoff, with more soldiers killed on the field than in any war in history, and Lincoln seized on that result, deeming it a moral victory, and set in motion to free the slaves.

Even though the Union became more proficient at war and eventually wore down their Southern brothers, it was the Battle of Antietam that gave Lincoln the doorway to make the Civil War about something other than states’ rights. In doing so, he robbed the countrymen clad in gray of the possibility of gaining international acceptance, therefore stifling their resources to those found within their own borders.

It was enough.

It’s why we still honor Abraham Lincoln today instead of shaking our heads in sadness over another failed Presidency.

Antietam was a bloodbath which ended with no conclusion–except permission for a President to change the rules and certainly, change the world. 

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Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alloy: (n) a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements, usually to give greater strength or resistance to corrosion

Since I don’t know anything about metal, I will refrain from trying to come off as someone who just read a short Wikipedia explanation in order to espouse expertise.

Let me instead use the word “alloy” to suggest the melding of two great ideas–which, when smelted, create a bond which is difficult to break.

The first idea is “No one is better than anyone else.”

Every culture which has ignored this principle, or set it aside to temporarily gain the approval of the majority, has found itself flailing, devoid of purpose and alienating the very citizens who could have brought about progress.

The second idea we would like to bind into this mixture is, “Be fruitful and multiply; replenish the earth.”

Can you imagine what would happen if we set these two ideas into motion–to collide in a unity of purpose to become the backbone of our culture?

No one is better than anyone else–and because we hold that truth to be self-evident, we encourage you to be fruitful, expansive, creative and bring about the multiplication of new energy, instead of dividing us into little sects and groups, so that we can replenish the earth instead of robbing it of all of its resources.

The day we understand that equality and creativity are not conservative and liberal concepts, but rather, issues of survival, will be when we wake up and become intelligent enough to be worthy of the brain space we have been granted.

What a great alloy.

Even though each one is individually a strong concept, when united, they give us the sniff of humanity and the power of our convictions instead of rendering us … hapless, over-evolved gorillas.



Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Allegiance: (n) loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior, or of an individual to a group or cause

Feeling a bit daring today, I am going to question a staple of the American consciousness.

Honestly, I do not pledge allegiance to a flag.

To me, it reeks of jingoism, or Viking. The whole concept of pledging allegiance is a bit foreign to my soul–not because I lack patriotism or a love of my country, but mainly due to the fact that since we are justified by our words or condemned by them, I would like to be selective in my phrasings.

Because I love this country very much, I would like to pledge allegiance–but do it to things that matter–to the things that make us the people we dream to be. Here is my pledge:

I pledge allegiance to my nation and the many diverse souls who find equality within. May we continue to expand and grow in our knowledge, which has proven through the years to be the backbone of our excellence. May we remain one nation, one people, one desire and one willingness, allowing God to show us our error and encourage our efforts. In doing so, may we reject the things that separate us and embrace our similarities, offering liberty and justice to all.

There you go.

To that cause, wording and purpose … I can give my allegiance.


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dictionary with letter A

Abelard: Peter (1079 – 1142) French scholar, theologian and philosopher. He is famous for his tragic love affair with his student, Heloise.

“Tragic love affair.”

You know what’s tragic about it? Old Pete and Heloise let circumstance keep them apart and decided to pretend they were in love at a distance instead of chasing each other down and living together for the rest of their lives.

You see, that’s the problem with romance. At first, it’s just too romantic. It later becomes real. Then it often ends up disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with having a silly infatuation filled with love letters, flowers and candy. To say anything against that would be like storming the gates of heaven with a butter knife.

But you can add one thing to your romantic tizzy when you’re first getting started with a new possibility. The two of you can sit down in a moment of non-sexual blur and decide how to handle confrontation–because confrontation is essential in a relationship. This may shock you, but it ends up that we really don’t love our lovers “just the way they are.”

So rather than being five years down the road and waking up one morning realizing that for some unexplained reason you have fallen out of love with your former-hot-mama, it might just be a good idea to deal with the smaller problems when they come up–and have a way to talk them through instead of just tolerating them because you’re horny.

Yes, if Old Pete and Heloise had said to one another, “We’re in love, but we’ve got some problems here with people interfering and both of us are a little bit chicken to fight the critics, so maybe together we can come up with a backbone between us…”

Well, if they had done that, they might have ended up together instead of being listed in the  Dictionary as a “tragic love affair.”

It is true that love is a many splendid thing–but it becomes even better when you find your voice and you’re able to share, fairly candidly, your heart’s desire.