Conviction

Conviction: (n) a fixed or firm belief

There is a new rule. If the word “rule” sounds too stodgy for you, then call it a guideline.

If “guideline” is still too restrictive, you may consider it an insight.

If “insight” gives you the creeps, then let’s just call it an idea.

Here it is:

You are allowed, permitted and granted an opinion, as long as you’re willing to be wrong.

The very second that you—or I, for that matter—start insisting that our opinion is really a conviction held by millions and even, maybe, heralded by the heavens, we probably need to be hauled off somewhere to live in a poverty-stricken situation until humility settles into our souls.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Discussion would be no problem if we actually discussed. We don’t. We enter discussions with convictions.

Disagreements would still be fine if we were conscious of the need to evolve. But we aren’t, because our convictions arrived to us engraved in stone.

It would even be possible to argue—as long as our convictions didn’t cause us to be arrogant, feeling that we’re pleasing a political party, a science project or a deity by being stubborn.

I used to have many convictions. I used to scrunch my face up when I heard people advance their theories or share their preferences.

Whenever I did this, my ass always found my hole and created an unrighteous unity.

Over the years I have abandoned, ignored, walked away from and giggled at many of my convictions, realizing that the majority of them were hatched in the henhouse of speculation. Let’s be honest—your speculation is as good as mine, and mine is pretty worthless.

So now I listen, I get an idea of what’s going on, and from that idea I develop an inkling which I take into the discussion, only to discover that much of my inkling needs to be trimmed away.

I am not impressed with convictions.

What truly touches my heart is seeing human beings who have the mercy and grace to be wrong while still smiling.


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Chickpea

Chickpea: (n) a round yellowish seed, used widely as food.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that garbanzo beans were also known as chickpeas.

For years, when I traveled with my friends, had brief attempts at weight loss and hovered over salad bars, I wondered if the garbanzo beans
were calorically low enough to be included in my pile of greenery and anemic salad dressing.

One day I asked the waitress at the local Ruby Tuesday’s in Alabama if they had garbanzo beans. She stared at me as if I were a Yankee who had come to ransack her plantation.

“What’s that?” she said in utter disgust.

So I described it, as much as one can manage wording to verbally recreate a non-descript object.

She replied, “You mean chickpeas?”

At this point, I was trying to be patient. I am fully aware that people from the Southern part of our great nation often have different names for things–usually with a country tinge to them.

“Chickpeas?” I questioned. “I’ve never heard them called that.”

As we were conversing, a lovely woman, gracious and well-spoken, came up and added, “Both names are correct.”

She had an English accent.

I was aggravated. I thought I had a young southern girl trapped in a language faux pas–and then this agent straight from the throne of the King’s English steps over to thwart my enthusiasm.

“See, I told ya’,” drawled the girl, strolling away.

I glanced over at the dignified Englishwoman and said, with great conviction, “I will always be a garbanzo man.”

 

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Bulldoze

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Bulldoze: (v) to use insensitive force when dealing with someone or something.

People will not be convinced.

All the attempts to debate, argue, fuss, preach, evangelize and bulldoze human beings are wasted effort.

Knowledge does not impress us.

We pretend it does. We pass on the impression of being impacted by information. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Once you realize that any effort you put into changing another human being through speech, force, intimidation or even alienation will only deepen their convictions and cement their will, you can cease your campaign.

Humans change when they’re convicted–in other words, when the evidence stacks up against them and they are sentenced by a court of public opinion, looking for a pardon.

  • It is an act of their will.
  • It is often a manifestation of frustration.
  • It is a jealousy over seeing others happy.

It is why it’s better to let your light shine instead of trying to buy the whole world flashlights.

 

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Avid

Avid: (adj) having or showing a keen interest in or enthusiasm for something.

Confusing times increase the sales of antacids. (Forgive me–I was looking for an up-side.)dictionary with letter A

So after you run out and invest in Tums, International, please consider this: it will be necessary for you and I to become avid about certain causes and issues.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. Without having some sort of conviction, we come across very dull, therefore decreasing our sexuality and monetary possibilities.
  2. Important causes will survive persecution and have a victory party, which we probably would like to attend.

How can you determine, in this crazy era of over-promotion, what purposes deserve your passion? Here’s a four-step process

A. Is it going to benefit me?

I understand it’s considered noble to appear selfless, but perhaps in doing so, we commit the most selfish act. None of us are selfless, so considering our own feelings will certainly occur. Therefore budgeting that in as a factor is only realistic

B. Will it come back to haunt me because of those I’ve mistreated?

Most of the time I don’t judge other people simply because I don’t want them looking into my business. It’s annoying to have people take inventory of your faults just because they’re trying to get even over a critical slip of your tongue

C. What is the history on the issue?

  • For instance, has slavery been successful throughout the ages?
  • How about forbidding rights to people?
  • Have individuals who hold “witch trials” ended up being considered innovative and generous?

Be smart. After all, history is just today with two weeks of vacation.

D. Will my involvement help?

There is a power in using what you have to do good. No doubt about that. There’s also a power in knowing when your personal contribution is worthless.

So there you go.

I know I have to be avid. Otherwise I will lull myself into an emotional sleep from which I will only be stirred with the warning signs of my heart attack. 

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Appliance

dictionary with letter A

Appliance: (n) a piece of equipment designed to do a specific task, typically a domestic one.

I have often thought it would be a very intelligent maneuver to set my mind to becoming more of a handy man.

I have a very firm conviction (though many of you would consider it a superstition): I think my appliances know that I’m ignorant.

I think secretly they hide out in the kitchen, the bathroom or the office and plot ways to make me nervous by pretending to pull up lame at the most inopportune times so they can view me fidgeting nervously, wondering how to accomplish my task without them.

If you think about it, this is the only self-worth an appliance has. No one pops the bread in the toaster, has it cook to a golden brown and then pats the chrome while saying, “Thank you, toaster for doing your job.”

The only time we actually acknowledge the toaster, or any number of appliances, is when they decide to go on the fritz or become intermittent in some disgusting pattern. It is only then that we appreciate the value they bring to the household.

Is it too far out for me to believe that these appliances might have some sort of agreement among each other, to seek approval by refusing to operate?

So I think becoming a little more handy with tools, threatening to break them open and play with their innards, might be enough to rein them into submission.

Of course, the times I’ve hung around such skillful laborers, I have quickly deterred from my passion to pursue their abilities, because within moments, their explanations and terminology leave me totally baffled. (For instance, a friend of mine talked a good ten minutes about various types of screws before I realized he wasn’t being lascivious.)

So since I’m pathetic with the implements which might be able to fix my appliances, I’ve decided to be very polite, gentle and appreciative to them. Landing somewhere between encouraging a baby to walk and a dog to retrieve a frisbee, I have developed lingo for each and every one of them to let them know how much I value their service.

  • So the dishwasher is “dear.”
  • The toaster is “cool, man.”
  • And the blender is “wow.”

I hope by using these little bursts of encouragement, I can keep them operating in tip-top shape…so they don’t feel the need to threaten me with the silent treatment or their shut-down mode.

 

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Animal

dictionary with letter A

Animal: (n) 1. a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized organs and nervous systems 2. any such living organism other than human beings

Sometimes I feel like a cop, standing in the middle of a thoroughfare, attempting to direct traffic, with two huge trucks bearing down on me from different directions, seemingly unwilling to yield.

It’s how I feel about the overbearing nature of the secular community playing “chicken” with the zealots of the religious contingency.

One group screams that human beings are “just animals,” knowing it will aggravate their adversary, as the other gathering of souls touts the eternal nature of our being and the need for God.

I have found in my life that when you maintain a philosophy and speak it aloud more or less just to annoy others who disagree with you, you not only lack the power of your own conviction, but you are infiltrating the world around you with unnecessary conflict.

I decided a long time ago that human beings are monkey-angels. There is no denying our similarity to the family of animals but there is little doubt that we have some DNA in common with the angels of God.

I don’t know why we can’t come to this conclusion:

  • I think it would be nice to have a member of the animal kingdom who has graduated to a spiritual sensibility for respecting the planet and caring for the weaker members of the jungle.
  • Simultaneously, I think there is a certain adorable quality to us motoring a spirit but being a trifle inept in steering it.

As John Merrick, the Elephant Man put it so well, “I am not an animal.”

Perhaps better phrased, “I am not just an animal.”

There is a living, breathing soul within me that aspires to the Divine … while wallowing in the mud.

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Affront

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Affront: (n) an action or remark that causes outrage or offense

Sixty years.

If you think about it, it’s not really that long. But in sixty years of life, I have been offered many ideas, which, as time has passed, have gone from being the common sense of my day to being opinions that AFFRONT.

Let me give you some examples:

When I was eight years old, I was told that black people were inferior. They weren’t “bad,” just more or less one step up from monkeys, but a step down from my Midwest, white friends and family. Yet you can see, if I held any part of that conviction today, I would affront many–or maybe even most–people.

When I was fourteen years old I was told that rock and roll was “of the devil.” Matter of fact, I read a book about how the beat came from Africa and had the potential to turn us into animals instead of enlightened creatures of Eden. Alas, if I promoted this idea today, there would be great possibility of affrontation.

May I proceed?

All through my teenage years, I was told by my church and even my school that a woman’s place was “in the home.” Interestingly, most of the girls in my senior class were encouraged to take Home Economics, and any boy who might decide to join the class would be ridiculed right out of the school. Move ahead. Stating such a premise in public nowadays would put you in danger of being shunned, if not stoned.

I go on.

When my wife became pregnant with our first child and we were not ready, we considered abortion. But because our upbringing and the world around us told us it was murder, we passed. Now, if you were to state that abortion is murder in a public arena, you would be labeled an ultra-conservative right-wing nut.

Can I give you another one?

“Marijuana is a dangerous drug.” I grew up with that conviction. But just the other day I discovered that fifty-eight percent of the country now contend that it should be legalized. How “backwoods-bumpkin” would you look to disagree?

And finally, throughout my childhood and even my young adult years, it was common knowledge that homosexuality was abnormal. Move ahead a couple of decades. Such an assertion would be met with violent opposition and you certainly should be prepared to be ostracized.

It reminds me of the question that a governor once asked a convicted felon right before his execution. His name was Pilate and he said, “What is truth?”

Is truth what is best for human beings, or what is easiest to sell to the masses? It may take a generation that decides to discuss and learn what is functional instead of getting up in arms over their cause to finally arrive at what works for the human family.

Who knows? Maybe sixty years from now.