Compromise

Compromise: (n) an agreement reached by each side making concessions.

Dinner chatter.

I’m speaking of those conversations that occur after a fine meal, while some sip on wine and others lick their cheesecake fork.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

These are the moments when people feel the need to wax philosophical while simultaneously appearing to be extraordinarily open-minded.

So one person shares his or her opinion and another adds detail, being very careful not to contradict, but instead, enhance.

By the end of the exchange, a summary is formed in which everyone’s sentiments are included in some capacity–almost like a discussion scrapbook.

The host or hostess often conclude by saying things like:

“Well, I’m sure all the political parties have something good to share since they all love America.”

Or:

“Even though we should be sensitive to each other’s cultures and respect difference, there is no race left out or creed dispelled.”

Or one of my favorites:

“It would seem that all paths lead to God and each one of us selects a profile literally tailored to our soul.”

We love compromise.

Matter of fact, in the American system, compromise is considered more sacred than authenticity. For years and years we’ve rejected obvious truth to make sure we did not offend anyone in the room.

Let me tell you something about the path to God:

It demands truth on our inward parts, and in no way, shape or form are we to distinguish, isolate or even separate off into groups–because God is no respecter of persons.

 

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Broccoli

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Broccoli: (n) a variety of cabbage bearing green heads, widely cultivated as a vegetable.

I don’t remember ever seeing broccoli until I was sixteen years old.

I’m not denying its existence–it’s just that for some reason, our family did not participate in broccoli. Perhaps in my era it was not as popular, but more than likely, there was a silent vote taken among family members, without my knowledge, prohibiting the odd vegetable from entering our home.Dictionary B

The first time I did see broccoli and ate it was at a Chinese restaurant, where I was embarrassed because a girl had to explain to me what was perched in front of me with a green head, staring right into my eyes.

She was sufficiently overbearing and condescending, while baffled by my ignorance.

She told me that it was a very healthy thing to eat and that people of culture had consumed it for generations. I quickly realized that she was insinuating that I was not one of them, so I quickly took my fork and cut into the stalk, having the sensation, for some reason or another, of being a tiny lumberjack.

I liked it pretty well. Now, that might be because it was in a sweet ad sour sauce, surrounded by so much goo that it had little chance of diluting the delight.

Since then I have become an avid eater of broccoli even though I will admit to you that the word “avid” does not necessarily fit into that sentence.

I well remember, however, when the first President Bush confessed to the entire nation that he did not like broccoli, there was a collective gasp of horror and disbelief that the leader of the free world would be anti-florets.

But it is an acquired taste.

As with all vegetables, you have to wrap your mind around the fact that you are actually consuming something that normally would be chewed on by a cow or dried up by a summer’s drought.

 

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Bilingual

Bilingual: (adj) fluent in two languages.Dictionary B

Perhaps one of the better definitions of “honorable” is sharing one’s experience while freely admitting it is limited.

I have an exciting life, filled with many journeys, but most of them have occured within the confines of the United States. I have been to Canada several times, and made a ten-day journey to Haiti.

It hardly classifies me as a world traveler.

I share this preface because I want you, as the reader, to understand that it is fine to offer our testimony as long as we’re willing to warn the hearer of the limits of our scope.

So since Canada speaks English (though some of my brethren in the deep South would disagree) my only true experience of bilingual situations lies in my escapade to Haiti.

The thing I immediately sensed upon arriving in this country is that I wanted to be able to communicate with them in their own tongue. My lack of preparation for such a maneuver left me quite aggravated with myself.

So I set about to rectify the situation by learning as many phrases as possible. Since I was actually doing some public speaking, I was issued a translator. He was a delightful young fellow with a desire to please.

As I gradually assimilated a few words here and there, I realized that this fine youthful translator was editing many of the things I was saying.

So after one of my little talks, I confronted him. A bit red-faced, he candidly replied, “Well, I tried to make sure that everything you said would meet the approval of the audience so they wouldn’t be upset with you.”

I laughed, but instructed him to be more faithful with my content.

We are so afraid of words that even as they are translated into other cultures, there is a gnawing fear that we might say something unacceptable.

The chances of that happening are highly likely.

So that is the reason–whether we’re speaking our native tongue or a tongue that is native to our audience–we always need to remember that humility should precede our words, gentleness should accompany them and a willing spirit should follow.

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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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Betrothed

Betrothed: (n) the person to whom one is engaged.

Dictionary B

The pride that we have over our sophistication is not only comical but often ill-placed.

We have the most intricate system for pairing people into committed relationships that has ever been devised in the history of bipeds with brains.

Yet we also have the highest divorce rate.

So do we question this system of placing the entire experience of choosing a mate based on the level of our interest and financial security?

No. We continue to chase down love haphazardly.

Simultaneously, cultures which pair off individuals in pre-arranged marriages don’t fare any worse than we do. Do you know why?

It’s because marriage has nothing to do with love.

Hell, if we’re going to make this planet work, we all have to learn to love one another. (But that doesn’t mean you’ll exchange body fluids with the population as a whole.)

Marriage requires three unique impositions:

1. “I’m not going anywhere.”

If you believe that separation and divorce are options in your relationship, you will eventually pursue one of them. There is a power in thinking that we possess the intelligence to solve our problems.

2. “I am not satisfied with myself.”

Although it is very popular to be self-satisfied, trying to sell this to another person who sees you every day is ridiculous.

  • I need someone to help me overcome my demons.
  • I need a friend who will see those demons and not run away in terror.
  • And I need a cohort who will not be too judgmental when I invite my demons back in for a one-night stand.

3. Be prepared to laugh all the time.

Most arguments begin because we decide to defend or discuss stupidity instead of laughing at it.

Humor is what makes sex excellent. Since it is such a silly little practice, which is accomplished just as well among the monkeys, we dare not view it as serious or overly spiritual, or we become notoriously foolish.

I don’t care whether you date for fourteen years or if you met each other fourteen minutes ago.

“I’m not going anywhere, I’m not satisfied with myself and I’m prepared to laugh” is what makes betrothal be-workable.

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Assimilate

Assimilate: (v) to take in information, ideas, or culture and understand fully.dictionary with letter A

Our sophistication has rendered us ignorant.

We have “thought” our way into thoughtlessness.

We have studied, totally escaping the true attributes of being studious.

We’ve worked on the false premise that human beings are all different–and although it seems like an open-minded concept, the underlying message is that we are incapable of totally embracing one another because our uniqueness creates wedges among us.

It is a dangerous lie.

The truth that should be assimilated into the consciousness of each and every person walking the face of the earth is that at least 85% of what we desire, feel and pursue is identical.

The other 15% is similar to picking your favorite flavor of Pop-Tart. In other words, it may seem important, but after you’ve munched on a few bites, cherry and grape are pretty much the same.

It will take a great sense of humor and unity, mingled with some confrontation, for us to escape the ridiculous desire to separate from one another while simultaneously pretending we’re honoring cultures.

The great assimilation in the human race is that we’d better find ways to establish our worth by being valuable and creative… instead of just preaching that we are entities unto ourselves.

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Armageddon

dictionary with letter A

Armageddon: (n) in the New Testament, the last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgment.

I have this memory from Sunday School class of a verse in which God shares with Cain that the blood of his brother “cried unto God from the Earth.”

Pretty powerful image.

So every time I think about Armageddon, I’m a bit baffled.

I have never had a desire to go to the Holy Land–mainly because I do not believe that any particular parcel of dust and stone is holy–and especially when the landscape has been so stained by human blood, shed for meaningless doctrines and interpretations.

I am not certain that this position I have taken would be a popular one with those who want to go and see where Moses received the Ten Commandments, or where Jesus walked on the water.

But if I found myself in the unenviable position of being the President of the United States, I would never send any troops into a kingdom that is already crimson with blood.

I would never allow myself to be known as the conduit that initiated a battle over nothing, which destroys everything.

There isn’t much I can do about the Jews and the Muslims wanting to fight with each other. It is my belief that Jesus came to break truth off of tradition, so that we could be human beings with each other instead of tribes.

But I guess as long as we insist on honoring our cultures more than humanity, protecting our kin more than seeking reasons to call the people of the world our brothers and sisters, and debating the personality of a God which is far beyond our comprehension, we will gradually inch our way periodically towareds Armageddon.

When we do, look for me in the rear, turning around and heading the other direction.

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Approach

dictionary with letter A

Ap·proach (n): 1. a way of dealing with something. E.G.: “We need a whole new approach.”

I find myself in Clarksville, Tennessee.

If you’re going to be a journeyman, you should be prepared to journey and become a better man in all situations.

I think I pride myself in the fact that I’m able to blend with various cultures and be of benefit to the people around me, as they also share their flavors and insights in my direction.

At breakfast this morning, there was a man who serves the food, who happens to be a fellow of color. I had been interacting with him for several days with a bit of conversation, generosity and expressing interest in his life.

Honestly, I felt quite cosmopolitan doing so, feeling that I was “a man for all seasons.” (Remember, arrogance is always more likely when one thinks one is being righteous)

As I sat at breakfast, two other young chaps, who happened to be of his hue, came into the room, sat down, and began to talk. I didn’t want to be impolite by listening in, but I did anyway, and it didn’t make any difference.

I was only able to catch about every tenth word and make out its meaning from my limited translating ears.

My acquaintance was a different individual around these two than he was with me. I realized that when he spoke to me he was more cautious, overly respectful and maintained a certain distance.

It wouldn’t even have occurred to me had these two gentlemen not come in and brought out his internal workings. I realized that through the combination of the Southern culture, his upbringing, racial tensions in America, and honestly, my ignorance, that he and I had barely brushed against each other.

I had deceived myself into believing that I was a “great communicator,” when really, I was still just a color, a shape and an obstacle.

It gave me pause.

What is the approach we will need to cross these horrible barriers we’ve constructed between each other, and to heal the inconsideration and atrocities of careless ancestors?

I’m not sure what the approach should be, but I know that somewhere along the line we will have to be honest about our lackings, laugh at our weaknesses and give some good ground to one another–or nothing will change.

 

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Apprentice

dictionary with letter A

Apprentice (n): a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages.

Perhaps it is too late.

Yes, maybe Donald Trump has ruined the word “apprentice” for all time by misusing it as the title of his NBC show.

But I will take a risk. Yes, I will step out and say that if we could return the word “apprentice” to our lives, and especially to our business practices, we would be much better off than we are today in our commerce.

For the truth is, we send people to college, hopefully to gain general knowledge and for them to finish wild-oat-sowing, only to place them in an occupation where they start all over again as an apprentice. Because after all, every company has policies and practices which are different from the competitor next door.

To think that we can teach art, business or education in a college atmosphere and transfuse the blood of the business world into a student is absolutely ludicrous.

What we are hoping is that a twenty-three-year-old is going to be more prepared to apprentice than an eighteen-year-old.

We are assuming that the four or five years of maturity garnered by attending college, being forced to interact with other cultures and races, will make our potential employee a more well-rounded individual. Truthfully, it is dishonest to convey that a college education prepares someone for success in the market place.

It does not.

It does keep them learning until they can finally arrive in a place where they truly do learn.

It keeps the edge and acuity of thinking in practice while we prepare a place for them in line, to see how they measure up against the other applicants.

Are there occupations that demand higher learning instead of apprenticing? I will probably frighten you by saying that even a doctor could apprentice a student. Certain things would have to be done slowly and patiently, but eventually terminology and certainly, more importantly, operations, could be transferred from physician to intern.

So am I saying that a university degree is meaningless? Absolutely not. For some people in our culture just aren’t ready at eighteen years of age to listen to anything but their ear buds.

During the time of Dickens and Mark Twain, young men were allready mollified by the age of fourteen. It is not so with our rendition of humanity.

So college gives young men and women the chance to be kicked in the face enough to learn how to handle a punch. At least, that’s what we hope.

But we will do better in this country when we finally admit that no one walks from academia into the board room.

Everyone spends some time sorting mail before they get the privilege of receiving it.

 

 

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Anthropology

dictionary with letter A

Anthropology: (n) the comparative study of human societies and cultures

There is an abiding, if not persistent, inclination to believe that intelligence invokes individuality.

In other words, because the human race possesses greater brain power than, let’s say, the duck, we are segregated into a multitude of clumps that not only differentiate us from one another, creating chasms of separation, sprouting suspicion.

Anthropology would do a great service to humankind if it pursued the premise that we are much more like the duck. No one sits around and discusses how ducks from the south are different from ducks from the north. (Maybe it’s because they fly south for the winter and north for the summer. Of course, most of our aging human population has similar travel plans.)

It is ironic to me that a scientific community which fastidiously places us within the animal kingdom as brother and sister to our jungle family suddenly decides to separate us from that kingdom when it comes to matters of race and culture.

Is it possible that we would be better off if we punctuated our similarities instead of showcasing our differences?

  • For instance, does someone born in Siberia who is transplanted right after birth to Southern California still prefer to wear parkas?
  • Would a native of Africa, born in the Serengeti, if translated to London-town, constantly find him or herself pining to hunt with a spear?

Can we really continue to take the attributes that are engrained and nearly beaten into us by our families and pretend that they’re a part of our natural desire?

Very few people ever consider the personality profile of an individual chimpanzee. Yet in some sort of “Homo sapien silliness,” we think that each and every one of us is a snowflake falling from the heavens, with our own particular jagged edges.

Yes, I believe anthropology would provide a salvation to humans if the science explained how much we share in common.

We would certainly be more like the duck, and realize that our particular quack … is not that special. 

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