Davis, Jefferson

Davis, Jefferson: (n) man who served as president of the Confederacy throughout its existence.

I’m not brave.

I am not a warrior for the truth.

I am not the kind to run up, state my opinion and stand my ground.

I prefer to appear from behind with a squirt gun, spray everyone and scamper away.

But there are certain things that elevate my consciousness, stimulate my “god-image” and demand that I build a fortress.

I spent most of my adult life living in the American South.

On one occasion, I overheard a gentleman talking about hosting a “minstrel show” in the community. I immediately assumed I misunderstood what he said, but when he sounded it out for me slowly, I realized that he intended on producing a program that was begun in the Confederacy after the Civil War, which allowed white people to dress up in blackface and make fun of the Negroes.

I was confused.

I thought minstrel shows had been outlawed years ago.

Now, here was the word, flying through the air as if it had wings.

For a moment I was emblazoned with a ready hostility—but still, tepidly opined, “Aren’t those illegal?”

The man became indignant and explained that minstrel shows were part of the heritage of the South and gave the people in that region a sense of pride over what had been pursued attempted by President Jefferson Davis and all the Rebels.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Freedom,” he replied.

Even if I were to buy in to the idea that Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis were just trying to “protect their way of life,” I would still be left with a stark anomaly.

If the Civil War was all about “state’s rights,” standing up to Washington, D. C., and not being pushed around anymore, why not just free the slaves and change the dynamic?

If it really wasn’t a malicious adventure to keep four million kidnapped human beings in chains and forced labor, why not just take the higher ground and convince the entire world that you were merely out to sanctify your choices instead of imprison human flesh?

Jefferson Davis was not a nice man.

I suppose if you sat down and had a drink with him and shared some boiled crawdads, you might find him amiable.

But on the inside was a greedy, corrupt man who insisted that black humans were mongrels and needed white people to help them reason.

And he did all of this standing in front of a church, holding a Bible in his hand.

Crevasse

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crevasse: (n) a deep, open crack

“It’s just about eight feet.”

God, I hated those words.

Growing up, I was the chubby, endearing, intelligent and funny friend. If you put me in a room watching Chiller Theater or listening to music or eating pizza, I was the star of the show.

But every once in a while, I got myself trapped into doing activities that blubber-boys should never participate in whatsoever.

I was thirteen years old and was asked to go on a hike.

I cannot lie—I went on the hike because at the end of the hike we were supposed to have a cookout over an open fire with marshmallows. They did not explain that there would be a five-hour death march preceding it.

I was panting within fifteen minutes, melting with sweat within a half hour—my legs so weak at the end of fifty minutes that I could barely stand.

This in itself was problematic.

But then we came to the Brave Man Crevasse.

The grown-up in charge of the expedition had mentioned it the night before with starry eyes, nearly breathless over the joy each of us would have in taking what he called “The Great Leap.” Struck by stupidity and still dreaming of marshmallows, I had failed to consider the impact of his statement.

About three hours into the hike, with me praying for death or the second coming of Christ, we arrived at The Crevasse.

Very simply stated, it was where the path ended and then resumed eight to ten feet over on the other side, with a drop of about fifty or sixty feet in the middle

The major problem was that before I could even consider what we were doing or how I personally was going to achieve it, many of my friends boldly took the jump and landed safely on the other side. Applause followed.

Pretty soon it was down to Lance and me. Lance was considered to be the coward of our troop—afraid of every type of bug, and really somewhat terrified of dirt. Lo and behold, Lance decided to choose this day for his epiphany of courage. He jumped up in the air and landed, his foot slipping at the last moment, nearly falling, but grabbed by some nearby buddies, who then alternated with pounding him on the back for his courage and clapping wildly.

So there it was—that universal turn of nine heads in my direction.

Their faces were full of encouragement, nodding as if to send good vibrations in my direction.

I thought about following Lance’s example, then realized I was not born stupid. So instead I stepped to the edge and looked over at the craggy hillside, filled with rocks and bushes beneath. My first thought was, “I wonder if I could survive a fall and get the hell out of here in an ambulance?”

But it seemed unlikely and certainly painful.

The delay was apparently unnerving to my cohorts, because they began to express verbal exhortations, which gradually became more ferocious and even challenging. That’s when the dastardly statement came to be.

“Come on! It’s just about eight feet!”

You see, they were wrong. It was a crevasse. There was no place for feet at all. If it had been just eight feet, I could just walk across. But it was eight huge spaces of nothing but air.

Spurred on by a combination of humiliation, edification and (still) the prospect of dinner, I leaped.

But I did not do it feet first. Instead I leaped with the top of my body toward the ledge, barely catching it with my hands, my feet dangling and kicking, and me ready to fall.

Blessedly, all of my friends who had made it safely to the other side grabbed me by whatever they could reach and pulled me up to safety.

My heart was pounding. It didn’t stop its thumping for a solid twenty minutes.

Every single one of the people who leaped across chose not to talk about it.

I think they were terrified that they nearly lost me in the Great Crevasse on the overly lengthy hike in pursuit of toasting a marshmallow.

 


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Coward

Coward: (n) a person lacking courage

As I stood outside, I stared at a roaring fire ablaze at the motel where I was staying. Though nearly fifty yards from the direct heat of the flames, I was still terrified—frightened to move, my hands shaking.

There is an astronomical difference between considering bravery and bravely considering. I would never have imagined that the lifeforce and anger of fire could be so petrifying.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I was motionless.

I did not go inside to get my personal belongings. But I wondered if I could have mustered enough courage to run in and retrieve a family member left behind. Or, in that moment when I was looking to the right and left to see if there was anyone better qualified or willing to assist, would I have squandered the tiny window of opportunity and end up looking like a coward?

Where do we cross the line between valuing our lives and clutching them? Is there a point where we would be willing die that someone or something else could live?

I don’t know.

In the midst of that motel fire, I comforted many people, and fought off the urge to scream. I realized that the difference between being brave and becoming a coward may simply lie in deciding not to run away.

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Broad

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Broad: (adj) an ample distance from side to side; wide.

We are a peculiar people.Dictionary B

Every July 3rd in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, we commemorate Pickett’s Charge, where thousands of Southern gentlemen attacked a wall of cannon at the bequest of an aging general who was in the midst of having a minor heart attack due to the summer’s heat.

But for some reason we call that brave.

We paint the picture of humanity with broad strokes.

We weep over acts of patriotism or occasions in which hundreds of thousands of us merge into a common trough.

But I am personally stalled by the warning from a Nazarene from two thousand years ago, who stated, “Broad is the way to destruction.”

It is shoulder-to-shoulder that we march to hell–unaware of our destination, but satisfied that we are right…because we are not alone.

What foolishness.

The best decisions of my life always happen absent human hovering.

When I’m on the “strait and narrow” of my passion, angels of authenticity are prompted to whisper in my ear.

If not, I am inundated by the bad breath of baffled Bohemians.

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Brave

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brave: (adj) ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

I have discovered that one of the more brave things to do is choose the correct moment to be a coward.Dictionary B

First, you have to be fearless about the characterization. Is it cowardly to know that you’re outnumbered, ill-prepared, uncertain, or to proceed with caution–even delay?

I don’t think so.

Bravery always reminds me of the Native American going hunting, only having the resources and time to make four arrows. Yet at the end of the day he knows two things: he must come back with dinner, and he’s only got four shots.

So what is the goal? Avoiding foolish undertakings that may seem noble or adventurous but will steal the quality of his supply.

So he waits.

He waits for that moment when he can get close enough to the deer.

If he does that–if he passes over the long shot, refuses to chase tracks that lead nowhere and simply allows the opportunity to come close to him–he has a much better chance of returning home with game … as the brave instead of a foolish archer.

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Andersonville

dictionary with letter A

Andersonville: (n) a village in southwestern Georgia that was the site of a large and infamous Confederate prison camp during the Civil War.

The Civil War was our holocaust.

Actually, little will be achieved in this country until we universally accept this statement as true.

The Civil War is when we took a race of people, segregated them, mistreated them and then ended up fighting a war which included in its pursuits the decision to continue that same practice indiscriminately.

We murdered, created new weapons to increase the casualties and took brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and placed them at odds with each other, continually making a “Sophie’s Choice” within the boundaries of households.

  • It was horrific.
  • It was unnecessary.
  • It was short-sighted.

And when you add in the treatment given to fellow-Americans as prisoners of war–on both sides–you have almost an identical parallel to many of the atrocities that were perpetuated in Nazi Germany.

It is our humiliation.

It is a war we should study because we need to make sure that in our present dealings, that none of the ignorance that brought about the massacre and slaughter can be welcomed again.

We need to put away all the trumpets, banners and paraphernalia from that conflict into a trunk and bury it in the ground with a ceremony of repentance.

There is nothing from that period of time that is worthy of our praise, let alone our consideration.

I admire the German people because they look on the horror of their own recent history and refuse to repeat it–by making sure the only reference to it is an apology.

To live in a country that still refers to “Yankees and “Rebs,” “North and South,” “Union and Confederate” with a sense of regional pride is an abomination to our belief in all men being created equal.

The Andersonville prison was a location where the anger, frustration and evil that had been perpetuated for three centuries was brought to bear and turned into a living hell.

But the Civil War was not noble.

It was not good.

It was not brave.

It is our holocaust–and because it is, we should reverence those who suffered and pledge to never repeat such foolish iniquity again.

 

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Acute

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Acute: (adj.) relating to a bad, difficult or unwelcome situation present or experienced to a severe degree: e.g. an acute housing shortage

Even though as a chauvinist nation, we refer to them as “drama queens,” there are certainly plenty of kings to go around, not to mention princes and princesses.

It seems to be fashionable–yes, that’s the word I would use–almost a cloak we wear, of feeling that we become more important by overstating our difficulties and over-emphasizing our struggles.

By no means am I suggesting that we should walk around in pain without seeking solace. I am not trying to insinuate that becoming a “John Wayne” type of character, with a bullet lodged in your shoulder as you continue to fight the Indians, is what is required in order to fall into the category of brave.

I just don’t think that everything that happens to us is cataclysmic or even necessarily worthy of a posting on Facebook.

In my own life, I fear that lamentation is a sad seeking in my soul–feeling sorry for myself instead of searching for resolution. For there are many problems people consider to be acute, which to me, sound not only solvable, but really, not even that difficult.

But if you play down somebody’s dilemma or try to eliminate their suffering with a quick fix, you will often be met with great resentment and anger.

So what is the best way to survive trials and tribulations without becoming whiny? There you go. There’s the quandary.

Because as much as we WANT to empathize with other human beings, we also want them to prove that they are part of our species by displaying a backbone and walking upright. See what I mean?

So I’ve come up with a little three-step process, which I think helps to keep me from becoming Billy Brat, who believes he’s being bullied by the earth around him.

1. Don’t think about your problems too long before you speak them out loud. I’ve never had a difficulty that lived in my brain which didn’t double in size every hour.

2. Be aware that there’s nothing new which hasn’t been experienced by somebody, so the solution may be embarrassingly easy. Of course we want to contend that our particular cross is unbearable, but usually it’s just a couple of sticks of wood.

3. Be prepared to have good cheer. Whether you end up laughing at your problem, giggling at the simplicity of the solution, or just LOL-ing at yourself for being so worried–humor is the only door of escape from stupidity.

I don’t think any of our problems are as acute as we think they are.

Maybe it’s because none of us are as cute as we think we are.