Citadel: (n) a fortress on high ground

How can you take the high ground without instinctively looking down on those beneath you?

It became an issue in the recent presidential campaign. Both candidates insisted they were taking the high ground, while simultaneously
using the concept to proclaim themselves superior.

Unfortunately, any insistence on superiority renders us weakened by the kryptonite of pride.

I need a citadel.

I need a place where I can climb a little higher in my consciousness–not to peer down at the infidel, but to have the chance to see things the way they are, and not the way they appear at ground zero.

My life requires a sweetness of morality, a gentleness of empathy and an awareness of my talent.

In order to mingle these factors, I must don the cloak of humility. For humility is not the absence of ability, but rather, the evidence of it without needing to overpower all comers.

Yes–America should be a citadel.

Our faith should be a citadel.

My life should be a citadel: a piece of higher ground that does not insist on being worshipped because of its elevation, but instead, uses the bird’s eye to consider all the sparrows.


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Bumble: (v) to move or act in an awkward or confused manner.

Some things should be bumbling.

Yes, there is nothing wrong to bumble during certain events.

I think sex should be bumbling.

I think when we portray sex as a free-wielding, professional action done by two gymnasts, it loses its humanity, and also ceases to encourage the participants to talk to each other about how to make things better.

I think it’s alright to bumble over describing your achievements. This sense of over-confidence and “staring-the-devil-in-the-eye” defiance which is promoted in the business world just makes us look so much worse when we can’t back up our claims.

I think it’s good to bumble when you’ve done something stupid and in the process of apologizing, some tears of real repentance sprout, halting the flow of speech.

There is a charm to bumbling over answering something that you’re not completely sure is true, and cautioning those around you to check it out and confirm your accuracy.

It would be inspiring if a politician bumbled on a question, only to explain the delay by offering an unexpected, but divinely inspired, “I don’t know.”

We are so intent on coming across as adept, worldly and well-seasoned that we fail to realize that a certain amount of vulnerability gains us the empathy of people around us … who wish they had the guts to bumble.


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Brutal: (adj.) savagely violent.

On occasion, I comically refer to human beings as “monkey angels.”

A little bit of jungle, a little bit of heaven.

Because of this mixed breeding, the climate for our species requires a careful mingling of tough and tender.

I get in discussions with my sons about this all the time. They are convinced they can watch Dictionary Bmurder and mayhem in the movies and experience brutal treatment of God’s children, and be no worse the wear.

But the true diet for our spirit is an enduring toughness about complications and a tender empathy for our fellow-travelers.

In other words, celebrating, commemorating and being challenged by those who overcome difficulty through their determination, while emotionally impacted by gentleness among all brothers and sisters.

We’ve flipped it.

I think we try to be tough with our dealings with each other as we tenderize ourselves with decapitation, devastation and depravity.

It screws us up.

So I, for one, have no desire to become stronger by watching brutal acts.

Brutal is for brutes.

And “brute” is the part of our monkey that wants to act like a gorilla.


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Black Hole

Black hole: (n) a place where people or things, especially money, disappear without trace

Dictionary B

For years, in moments of frustration, I succumbed to calling individuals around me who found my disfavor, “Asshole.”

I never felt good about it.

It was a rather sleazy term, with no real meaning. After all, the problem was certainly north of their posterior.

Yet it made me temporarily feel empowered and superior, so I gave in to the inclination.

But no more.

I have found the perfect insult for those around me who are oblivious to the needs of others and think they are driving on the highway of life in the carpool lane.

They are black holes.

When anything full of life, potential, mercy, goodness, gentleness or legitimate humor gets anywhere near them, they swallow it up into the darkness of their oblivion. They do not possess the ability to retain, but instead are bottomless cups, constantly needing refilling.

The danger is that our society might become so accepting of these “black holes” that we start believing it is human nature to be devoid of empathy.

That would be most unfortunate.

Because even in the carpool lane, it is required for you to have two people.


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Beaver: (n) a large semiaquatic broad-tailed rodentDictionary B

The word “beaver” torments me–mainly because I have no personal experience with the creature. But it has entered my life through story, myth and even double-entendre.

It is so unfair.

Truthfully, I can’t hear the word “beaver” without considering the sexual implication, which has been placed upon it by a generation of goofballs.

I do feel I would have great empathy with the beaver (if I actually knew one) because I, too, would occasionally like to “dam it all.”

Yes–rumor has it that beavers build dams.

I don’t know if these structures are required, and I’m not quite sure why the beaver wants to do so, and certainly totally unmotivated to find out–even for the purpose of adding some credence and intelligence to this essay.

I know there’s a football team in Oregon called the Beavers.

If memory serves, beavers have large, protruding front teeth (I assume for gnawing wood in the process of building their dams.)

And of course, I have memories of a television show called “Leave It To Beaver,” which had nothing at all to do with building anything and had no purposeful double entendres.

So if I happened to run across a forest agent who identified himself as a “beaver inspector,” I’m afraid it would be difficult for me to carry on a conversation…without giggling. 

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dictionary with letter A

Ap·pli·ca·ble (adj): relevant or appropriate.

Sometimes I feel like a helpless city with no defenses, being bombarded by a society which senses no responsibility for viciously attacking in the pursuit of gaining its will.

It doesn’t matter what the issue is–every advocacy group is obsessed with its own form of tunnel vision, and contends that if you do not agree with them in every principle, that somehow or another you are suffering from a phobia against their cause.

No one is stopping to ask an important question: what principle is really applicable to the ongoing sanity and peaceful coexistence of human beings?

Let me explain.

I have lots of foibles. I suppose some people would even consider them sins. I am fat, bald, somewhat lazy and silly. There are individuals who would take any one of those and isolate me off in a box for direct FedEx shipment to hell. I have no malice toward them. I do not wish that they, too, would experience a fiery end. I just think their cause is overwrought and is trumped by a greater good which is often ignored in the pursuit of these pundits proving their point.

I just believe that the only applicable statement for those dwelling on Earth and confined by mortality is “no one is better than anyone else.”

  • So on the issue of abortion, I have empathy for both mother and child, so I grant freedom for choice and discovery of restraint.
  • How about racial issues? Since no one is better than anyone else, having God color you in with a different hue doesn’t seem very important.
  • Homosexuality? Since I probably will not be joining you in your bedroom, I would rather appreciate your company in the fellowship hall.

Life is not nearly as complicated as angry pollsters and protesting advocates try to make it out to be. I cannot judge you because if I were judged by the same standard, I would be weighed in the balances and found wanting.

Therefore what is applicable becomes that which is relevant. And what is relevant is that I have no control over your happiness–only the ability to hurt you and take away your joy.

So I shall not.

“No one is better than anyone else. ”

That is applicable.

Everything else is merely conversational, aggravating bullshit.

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Alzheimer’s Disease

dictionary with letter A

Alzheimer’s disease: (n) a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age due to generalized degeneration of the brain.

When you read the definition, there’s nothing funny about it.

But candidly, I think everybody feels a little nervous about taking this disease seriously.

It isn’t that we don’t have empathy for those who suffer from it. It’s just that the one-liners, comedic set-up and potential sketches available on the subject of older people becoming forgetful are so ripe with scenarios that it’s difficult to pass them up in favor of more sensitive profiles.

So when are we being callous?

I remember once in a show I joked about the fact that “considering my size, you know I’m not anorexic.” A lady walked up to me afterwards and complained about my choice of humor, saying that her daughter suffered from the condition and that it was not a jocular matter.

I apologized.

The reason I offered this remorse was that I had offended her. I didn’t do anything offensive, but because the subject matter was so personal and close to her, she was offended by my making light of the gravity of the situation.

But honestly, I do not know if we can progress the human race without learning to laugh at ourselves.

Would I think jokes about Alzheimer’s Disease were funny if I had it? Since I probably wouldn’t know–yes. (See? There are people who probably would find even that turnaround crass…)

All of us are going to get old, and that looming condition is both real and frightening at the same time. To approach it without some sort of good cheer is probably the greatest danger.

So I follow a simple philosophy: I try to find humor in everything, serious or not. It is not because I don’t care. It is because the only way to care is to relieve pain, not merely point it out.

We must be careful in a time when we are touting our personal feelings more than understanding our human need–that we don’t lose sight of the escapism of comedy.

I do not condone those who are rude and crude. I am not saying that any kind of disease is pleasant. I’m just saying that as an obese man, plagued with many of the complications associated with it, I have never gained ground by digging in my heels, weeping or looking for reasons to be offended.

The only light I’ve ever seen at the end of any of my tunnels … is humor.