Community

Community: (n) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

Our little village was filled with community pride.

It was cute–a little bigger than a postage stamp, yet you could walk around the entire downtown area in less than ten minutes.

Growing up there, I was taught that community is not so much sharing a location, but rather, absorbing a basic ideology.

I’m not sure who came up with the standards or the principles which were passed down among the locals and inhaled like air, but generally speaking, you could do well in my community if you understood the mindset and the dress code.

If for some reason, you wanted to vary from the common universal brain, or clothe yourself in such a way as to gain too much attention, then you were initially viewed as comical.

If you persisted, you went from comical to being deemed confused.

And if confusion was maintained, then you would be considered dangerous and need to be dealt with by the negative approaches established by our community.

It was a very successful system.

We were able, through this system, to keep all blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians and long-haired rock and rollers far from our borders–without ever firing a shot.

The teeny tiny handful of those who remained were simply ostracized–or maybe just received really poor mail service.

None of the people in our community considered themselves prejudiced–just enamored by a preference. After all, if you wanted varying behaviors, you could drive twenty miles down the road to the Big City, where there were all sorts of options available, complete with rape, murder and a variety of other crimes. We were thoroughly frightened of the outside world, without ever being officially indoctrinated into a cult.

But our community was a cult.

I found this out when I wanted to stray from the daily routine and pursue my own ideas. No one struck me, no one physically attacked me, and no one even openly rebuked me. They just left me out of everything.

The system works to this day. All across America little towns have a network of gossipers who warn of suspicious arrivals, allowing the community a chance to provide the inconsideration to drive good folks away.

 

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Breed

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Breed: (v) to cause an animal to produce offspring in a controlled and organized way.

There’s no such thing as a perfect human.

Matter of fact, built into our consciousness is a sense of horror over anyone who would think they actually had attained such a status.

We hate perfect.Dictionary B

Actually, we favor chaos–and chaos is how I would describe the breeding of the humanity. It is a mish-mash of varying exteriors, while interiors are basically identical.

Yet since we look on the outward appearance, we fail to recognize that we share a universal blood stream, organs, arteries and veins.

So madmen come along and try to breed a “super race,” a chosen people, a “called cult” or designer babies, to fulfill the mission of perfecting the human race.

They always fail–because people aren’t perfect and when they try to be … they sink to their lowest level of imperfection.

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Bias

Bias: (n) prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group

Dictionary B

“Choose up sides.”

It happens early in our training, especially in elementary school.

Two captains are picked, which already establishes a bias toward a pair of students who are certainly preferred.

It is up to these two students to hand select their favorite individuals in a sequence which communicates to the entire room the new social order for the second-grade cult.

It may seem harmless–and especially seems to be free of guile for those who are selected early or who happen to be the captains.

But if you’ve ever been the last one selected, you are fully aware that bias leaves a lasting mark which is difficult to erase with the pencils provided during your years of education.

In many ways, the bias toward race begins on the playground.

We start off with only one race–that being “let’s go fast.” But as we describe to our teachers and families our newfound friends, we are suddenly discouraged from playing with them because somehow or another they are “different.”

Reinforcing this training is the notion that “girls are different from boys.”

“Smart people are different from less smart people.”

And the word different has two definitions:

  • If the difference is mine, it is better.
  • If the difference is yours, it is inferior.

It is impossible to celebrate cultures without promoting bias.

Yet we continue to do so, having children don sombreros on Cinco de Mayo, thinking that we are being multi-cultural–and also limiting the scope of a whole group of people to “a funny hat.”

Insanity is when we believe we solve a problem by creating a bigger one.

And bias is always the contention that the best way to understand people … is to punctuate their differences.

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Applicant

dictionary with letter A

Ap·pli·cant (n): a person who makes a formal application for something, typically a job.

Filling out a form often has no reason.

I have done my share, as I’m sure you have.

Matter of fact, in the business world, being handed a form to fill out is often considered to be a formal greeting. Sometimes there’s a clipboard so you can sit and write on your knee, using the pen attached by some sort of wire.

They are certainly attempting to communicate that this is part of their process, and demanded if you plan to be included in their little cult of the organized.

Each application has its own personality. It also has its own level of nosiness.

At a doctor’s office, an application can include questions that go back into the lifestyles of your ancient ancestors.

Did my great-grandfather have rheumatic fever? (Honestly, I don’t know, so I make up an answer.)

If you’re applying for a loan at a bank, they want to know lots of things about your lots of things–even lots of things about your little things. And especially little things about lots of things.

Probably the most grating experience in the human panorama is watching someone peruse your application while you sit, wiggling and squirming in silence.

  • Did I answer right?
  • How was my penmanship? (Mrs. Bosley always said I made really ugly “n’s.” Of course, I was in the first grade…)

Yes, there’s nothing quite as frustrating–dare I say aggravating–as being condemned over answers scrawled on a piece of paper.

And I have made the mistake of trying to be humorous on such applications, only to have the interviewer, who obviously has no mirth anywhere within his or her soul, question me as to the meaning of my answer. At that point, it hardly seems to be appropriate to say, “I was kidding,” and saying I misunderstood the question is even more embarrassing.

No, being an applicant and filling out an application is serious business.

It demands an adult mind–one which is still childish enough to believe that such filling in the blanks is actually a microcosm of one’s life.

 

 

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Apart

dictionary with letter A

Apart: (adv) two or more people or things separated by a specified distance from each other in time or space (e.g.: his parents are living apart)

  • What separates us defeats us.
  • What we consider unique is really arrogance.
  • Birds of a feather don’t always flock together.
  • Culture is often just a cult of superiority.
  • Fear of each other is instilled and never natural.
  • Yearning to be left alone opens the door to sadness instead of awareness.

All of these statements come from my heart. Yet the entirety of the passage would be questioned by most people in our generation

Why? Because in our cowardice to discover one another, we choose to scatter into our corners.

Is this a problem? Is there a danger in remaining apart?

If each one of us was marooned on a desert island without supplies, with people from all walks of life, the necessity for communication would be required for survival. Yet for some reason, we feel we can stay apart in our world and still survive the prejudice.

This is what I know: Earth was here long before I arrived. Even though my brattiness would like to believe it will stop when I die, it won’t.

So since I’m passing through, I have three choices:

  1. I can fix something that’s broken.
  2. I can break something that’s fixed.
  3. Or I can notice what’s broken and help someone who can fix it.

To achieve all of this, I must interact with my brothers and sisters.

To embrace solution … I will need all of them.

 

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Antebellum

dictionary with letter A

Antebellum: Occurring before the American Civil War.

The root word of culture is cult.

Isn’t it amazing that even though we abhor cults for their short-sighted, selfish and often abusive treatment of their members and the world around them, we accept the elongated version of this condition as being a symbol of race, nationality, creed or honor.

I hate culture.

I despise anything that tries to separate us into smaller and smaller units so we can hide behind our forts and peer at one another in horror and disbelief.

Never was this any more evident than in the years just prior to the Civil War. We became convinced that a country which had united itself around principles could still be divided by opinions. It allowed for the pernicious concept of slavery to continue under the guise of maintaining allegiance to a lifestyle which had already proven to be fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible.

I have to admit that I become nauseous when portions of that thinking and relics from that era–when men were oppressing other men over a bale of cotton–rise up with a bit of whimsy and patriotism to symbolize a deep-rooted respect for what can only be determined to be our national holocaust.

Yes, somewhere along the line, every bit of “culture” has to be measured against ethics, humanity and spirituality, and if it’s found to be lacking, it needs to be abandoned for the common good.

The minute you think something good transpired in the Old South and you unfurl the Stars and Bars, you are also welcoming into the equation a tribute to the industry and ideals that subjugated a race of people.

Certainly there’s plenty wrong with the North, East and West of our nation that needs to be scrutinized. Those living west of the Mississippi are truly the descendants of a lineage which lied to and cheated the American Indian. The prejudice against Italians, Irish, Russians and all immigrants into the country through Ellis Island in New York is also shocking.

But honestly, I don’t see anyone tributing George Armstrong Custer, and those who are so short-sighted that they rejected every nationality that came to our borders are considered, in the history books, to be numbskulls.

Yet for some reason we allow our South to regale its Confederate heroes.

My only statement is that I will not participate in anything that’s antebellum.

Because quite candidly, I am anti-bellum.

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Amish

dictionary with letter A

Amish: (n) the members of a strict Mennonite sect that established major settlements in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and elsewhere in North America from 1720 onward.

I grew up around the Amish.

Which in turn, means they also grew up around me. But you see, there’s the problem. They really didn’t.

They came into town to buy groceries. They were civil. They were kind. They were gentle.

It didn’t bother me that they dressed differently or that they all wore beards. (I guess the women didn’t…)

I wasn’t particularly upset about them living without electricity or the comforts of the modern world. After all, I went to a church camp or two where such restrictions were levied for a week to get us all mindful of things non-electronic.

It’s just that I have grown weary of all human attempts of separation, much to the chagrin of my family and friends who would like to hold on to a nice big slice of the popular culture, so as not to abandon existing relationships with friends who have reserved a lane on the broad path. I just don’t understand how we expect to co-exist–(Oh my dear Lord, forget that. Survive!) if we continue to build smaller and smaller boxes wherein to place those we consider to be more valuable–from our strain of DNA.

I, for one, am tired of the word “culture.” Has anyone noticed that the root of the word is cult? Normally we look down on cults. We consider them to be limiting, segregating and self-righteous. But I guess if you put a u-r-e on the end it’s ok, because it denotes some kind of honor of your ancestors.

I watched a show on PBS about the Cambodian community. Many of the young transplants from Cambodia have begun to hold weekly barbeques, eating only the food of their former land. It makes for a rather bizarre bit of recipes and diet, including cow intestines, bugs and various broths. The young people are very proud of it.

But here’s what I thought: there’s a bunch of people in their graves who would like to tell these youthful adherents that they would gladly have eaten hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken, but could only afford cow intestines. They would like to encourage their offspring to upgrade.

Much of what we call culture were merely survival practices of our forefathers and mothers, who struggled to get us where we are–so we wouldn’t have to partake of their pain.

So be careful.

If you want to live on a farm somewhere, turn off the lights, grow a beard and wear plain clothes, it is America and you are free to do so. But when you include the name of God in it, who claims to be no respecter of persons, and insist that there is some special holiness in doing without, I have to shake my head.

It won’t keep me from buying your food products, though. They’re really quite good.