College

College: (n) an educational institution or establishment

 

I never went to college.

I have used numerous excuses and lies to disguise this fact:

  1. “Well, the experience I’ve had is very similar to going to college.”
  2. “I took a few courses but never enough for graduation. Maybe I should check into that.”

Or the outright lie:

  1. “I am a graduate of Xavier University.”

(My thought? Most people would not know how to spell Xavier and would not pursue further.)

All through my twenties I felt like a dog without a collar. You know–a mutt rolling around the town, and everybody knows he doesn’t have a purpose or an owner
because he has no tags.

Yes, without college I felt a sense of self-discrimination. I was so convinced that people were looking down on me that I looked down on myself.

Then one day I simply asked my inner soul, do you wish you had gone to college?

I immediately realized that everything I had experienced would be gone in deference to the collegiate adventure.

That would include a wife, two kids, a music group, albums and writing a book. The case could be made that I would have eventually done these anyway–just with more book learning.

But one day–I guess I was about thirty-three years old–someone asked the question about college and I responded, “I never went.”

I really felt that the Earth moved beneath my feet–that the sky was falling in to trap me. But nothing actually happened. The person who inquired was a little surprised, since she felt I was very adept at what I was doing. But we were quickly on to talking about whether potato salad was better with mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

You see, you don’t have to go to college for those kinds of discussions. Just have a heart, an idea you believe in and a willingness to be wrong.

I have found this to be the definition of higher education.

 

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Albino

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Albino: (n) a person or animal having a congenital absence of pigment in the skin and hair (which are white) and the eyes (which are typically pink).

Yes, it would certainly be one of the more difficult jobs–being hired on as an albino Dean of Students at an African-American college.

Even if your heart was in the right place, your total whiteness might be a constant reminder to the students of former indignities and ongoing indiscretions.

How would you approach that job?

First of all, it would be a little difficult to get hired. I mean, your qualifications would have to be over the top–so much so that the trustees of the university would be compelled to accept you, or face legal action for discrimination.

(That would be a touchy case, right? “Southern Black University Taken to Court by Albino Professor for Bigotry)

Secondly, you’d have to have a reason for being there. Maybe it would be a compelling notion that your obvious difference would bring greater discussion about race relations to the forefront.

It would be good to have a sense of humor, don’t you think? You certainly wouldn’t want to walk around acting like you didn’t know you were really, really, really white…

How about a talent? Juggling or harmonica would certainly be beneficial.

Yes, being an albino, working in an African-American college, would immediately beg some questions.

So even though nowadays we pride ourselves on the progress we have made in race relations, gender roles and even sexual orientation, there’s always a new prejudice around the corner, which will baffle us because we fail to apply previous discovery to the present situation.

Yes, it’s difficult to remember, as you walk in to apply at your college, in front of your albino dean, that you once were forbidden to sit at a lunch counter.

Abreast

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abreast: (adv.): 1. side by side and facing the same way: the path was wide enough for two people to walk abreast 2. alongside or even with something: the car came abreast of the idling motorcycle.

I am taking a moment here to get all of my fourth-grade male giggles out of my system so I can talk rationally about the word “abreast.” I don’t need to bore you or cause you to lose respect for me by sharing some of the jokes that came to my mind when I first encountered today’s word. Let us just say that there is a small child who lives within me, and even though I try to starve him, he scrounges for scraps and survives.

But the word “abreast” struck me today–from a more mature place in my soul–as the description of the equality we desire in our human family and relationships.

But the teeter-totter approach to gaining equality, where for a brief season we extol one group of people as better than others, to try to even the playground, only to rush over and put more weight on the other side in an attempt to keep the game going,  seems not only to be ridiculous, but counter-intuitive with being abreast–side by side.

I don’t know–maybe black people who had been snatched from Africa might have found the experience tolerable if every day their white counterparts were sweating in the field right next to them, picking cotton, instead of sitting in the big house sipping mint juleps.

Is it possible that men and women would discover more similarities in their character if they actually did more things together?

It is going to be difficult to achieve equality in our world until we come to the conclusion that we were meant to be abreast–right next to each other, involved in the same projects without discrimination.

The same spirit that is deemed repugnant when a man says, “The little woman needs to be in the kitchen rattling the pots and pans…” is equally as nasty when the overwrought female on the situation comedy informs her husband, “You’d be a helluva lot happier if you’d just do what I told you.”

One is viewed as misogyny and the other as comedy. Why can’t they both just be stupid?

I am not interested in anyone being inferior to me, nor will I tolerate their superiority.

Come abreast–if you can stop your fourth-grade brain from giggling.