Confrontation

Confrontation: (n) a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation between opposing parties

Sometimes I think Mr. Webster’s had a bad day.

Yet I guess those who put together the dictionary try to reflect the mood of the society in which we live. Somewhere along the line we’ve begun to believe that “I don’t agree with you, I don’t appreciate that, I don’t understand,” and “I hate you” all mean the same thing.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

They don’t.

Each one signifies a different human emotion. Therefore, each one has to be handled at the level of confrontation it presents.

Let’s start with Number 1.

  1. “I don’t agree with you. “

Honestly, this is a confrontation. It may limit immediate harmony but it is not without the potential for conversation, compromise and resolution. Matter of fact, we might consider it essential to the climate of a democracy.

  1. “I don’t appreciate that.”

This is a different level of confrontation. It is objecting to how something was handled. It is not terminal to a relationship–it merely sets a timeclock for interaction, sensitivity and reconciliation.

  1. “I don’t understand.”

Also a form of confrontation. This states clearly that what was stated is not clear. It is asking for additional information. It is not a personal attack, nor is it a judgment of the original idea. Clarification.

  1. “I hate you.”

This is what Mr. Webster envisioned when offering his definition. But “I hate you” has little to do with a desire to create an exchange of ideas and a communion of souls. It is a giant leap into the fiery pit of hell where all hatred dwells.

I believe in confrontation.

Without it, we live in a world of insincerity, in which gossip becomes the only way we express our true feelings.

 

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Beverage

Beverage: (n) a drink, especially other than water

Dictionary BPerhaps one of the more valuable parts of my mission of writing this daily essay using the language that Webster offers to us is that I can occasionally warn you about words that should never be used.

I’m not going to make a comprehensive list right now, but instead, will use today’s choice as an example of such a misstep.

May it be declared from the Heavens and enacted upon the Earth that the word “beverage” should never be spoken aloud, at least in the Continental United States.

It is one of those words that makes it appear that you’re either very insecure about your education, or you are determined to pick obscure terms in order to make yourself look like the long-lost noble son of the Russian throne.

Beverage is not a word.

It is what we shall call an anti-word.

An anti-word is something that comes out of our mouths which we thought would communicate our sophistication, but instead leaves the room bewildered, perplexed or pissed off because we are acting superior.

You can feel free to say, “Do you want a Coke?” (That works really well in the South.)

I suppose it’s tolerable to say, “Would you like a soda?” (Even though in the North, “pop” is preferred.)

But the safest thing to ask is, “Would you like something to drink?”

So if we’re beginning a list of forbidden terms, let us start off with the word “beverage.”

Because quite honestly, anyone who asks me if “I want a beverage”… just might be training to be a serial killer.

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Bailiwick

Bailiwick: (n) one’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest.Dictionary B

The English language is in hospice, dying of the cancer of over-simplification.

All language is now based upon whether we like it, understand it or can easily write it down, rather than whether it is accurate or just plain beautiful.

For example, take the word bailiwick.”

I have personally never used the word in a conversation for fear that someone would think I was trying to be pretentious. But it is a gorgeous word.

And even though I do not use the word, I know what it means, so when I do hear some articulate human being express it, I am able to comprehend the meaning.

But as a writer, I find it necessary to sit down at least once a week and listen to a group of teenagers talk. After all, they are deciding where the English language is headed.

Occasionally I throw a word or two at them which I think is fairly common, only to be startled by their bewildered faces as they wonder why I decided to speak as if I were reading from a dictionary.

This may sound like a lamentation, but I will tell you that by no means am I a stick-in-the-mud who thinks America is going to hell one discarded word at a time.

But I do believe the preservation of certain language, and the ability to write with a bit of literary flair, cannot be completely estranged from our everyday efforts or we will eventually be a society that breaks everything down into initials, acronyms and slang.

So here’s to the use of the word “bailiwick”–at least every once in a while.

And also to the gentle patience which will be required from those who use it … to explain to the surrounding, dumbfounded hearers.

 

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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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Armadillo

dictionary with letter A

Armadillo: (n) a nocturnal omnivorous mammal that has large claws for digging and a body covered in bony plates. Armadillos are native to the south central US and Central and South America.

Along with crocodiles and spiders, armadillos clearly remind us that our world is ancient and was once occupied by really scary creatures.

Even though these animals are now much smaller and have a shrunken fear factor, you can certainly comprehend that in their heyday, they must have turned a head or two.

Matter of fact, the first time I saw an armadillo in the middle of the road while driving through Texas, I pulled over and stared at it for a while.

In some ways it looks like a knight in unshining armor. A really ugly knight, mind you.

Rather than seeming to be something natural, the bony plates on the outside of the body look like some kid placed them as a joke on his pet dog and then released the puppy into the wild, and stood behind a cactus and laughed.

The armadillo is also kind of like the pineapple of the animal kingdom. Even though the fruit inside the pineapple is really quite sumptuous, the outside looks like it was constructed by a medieval tinsman.

So it always causes me to reflect on the great debate between creation and evolution.

I will have to admit, if God made all of these creatures at the same time, He certainly had to be on some sort of heavenly acid trip.

And if evolution is completely accurate, it’s difficult to comprehend why the armadillo survived and the stegosaurus ended up in the pits.

So for me, I land somewhere betwixt: envisioning a God who used evolution to create, and a Creator who even to this day, continues to evolve.

 

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Arm

dictionary with letter A

Arm: (n) each of the two upper limbs of the human body from the shoulder to the hand.

I do believe that many times we are actually upset about how well our body parts work together. Let me explain.

If the foot hurts, the rest of the body expresses its sympathy by having the brain note the pain and informing all the other members that they may be pulling extra duty during the day.

This became obvious to me when I woke up one morning and had slept on my arm in such a way that it felt sprained. The shocker came when I realized that this particular dangling participant in my human form performs many functions that I never even think about. So it was virtually impossible to wash myself in the shower, brush my teeth, comb my hair or reach for my box of cereal at the breakfast table.

Each time I did, I was reminded by a conscientious brain that the part of my anatomy I wished to be using was presently on sick leave.

This was communicated through pain.

Within an hour, though, I had become somewhat adept at utilizing my other arm for some functions. I also used my legs more to perform duties instead of reaching to achieve my quest.

I was mindful of my hurt arm and gave it the respect it was due, while simultaneously trying to gently “exercise” it of its demon.

It lasted all day long–and even though I was very glad when I woke up the next morning to discover I had usage back in my limb, I was impressed by the efficiency of my body and simultaneously humbled that some way or another… I can’t always find that same cooperation with the people around me.

 

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Ark

dictionary with letter A

Ark: (n) in the Bible, the ship built by Noah to save his family and two of every kind of animal from the Flood; Noah’s Ark.

He kept repeating the question to me over and over again with additional ferocity and challenge with each inquiry.

“Do you believe that Noah and the Ark is true?”

There’s nothing more annoying than an evangelistic atheist or an ardent fundamentalist. In both cases, they want you to commit to stuff you don’t know anything about.

Since I did not live in the time of Noah, I’m not quite sure what the Ark was. And though the measurements are quite large for a boat, it is not possible for it to contain two of all the animals of the world, even at that time.

So does that negate the story and make it a complete lie?

I am also fully aware that almost every culture in the world has its own Noah and the Ark story in some fashion. And does that give it less validity–if it might have been “Omar and the Big Canoe?”

When it comes to matters of spirituality, I have a very simple rule I apply to all stories, theories, doctrines and even axioms: how does it apply to me?

I know that sounds rather selfish, but I seriously doubt if God wants me to study yarns from the past that have little to do with the woven fabric of my doings.

What do I get out of Noah?

Sometimes what is right is hard to do because it doesn’t make sense to the mob around you, and the only way you’re going to prove that it is right is by finishing what you set out to do … and letting the rain fall.

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