Crossly

Crossly: (adj) in a cross or angry manner

In a normal school day of, let’s say, seven hours, may we conjecture that fifteen percent of the time is spent shifting from one class to another, ten percent having lunch, another fifteen percent on history or social studies, fifteen more percent on English and grammar, and then another fifteen on the sciences, while a whopping thirty percent is invested in mathematics.

I am not trying to editorialize on school subject matter—measuring its height, weight and depth in value.

But I will tell you:

Most of adult life is spent trying to learn to communicate.

You will notice that on the average school day, communication is not a primal concern. It is expected that the students will figure it out for themselves and give reasonable honor to the teaching staff.

But without learning communication, we are unfortunately destined to continually say things that are offensive and find ourselves called on the carpet for it, apologizing in such a manner that nobody in the room—including ourselves—believes it to be sincere.

When too much knowledge mingles with too much ego and is accompanied by too much stress, it makes us begin to speak crossly.

We may not even be aware that our tone of voice has changed from relaxed to strained. But everyone who hears us immediately pulses the fury, sarcasm and despair that lurks behind each syllable.

You would think, since most of our lives is spent communicating, that some training might be in order.

But even in our homes, once a reasonable peace and quiet has been achieved, we don’t necessarily care how it was acquired.

Until we grasp that human beings don’t hear words, but rather, absorb the vibrations of emotions, we will insist that everyone is too touchy because “we never meant anything” by what we said.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Corsica

Corsica: (n) an island in the Mediterranean, Southeast of France.

I don’t know a lot about Corsica.

I am not going to insult you by looking up a few details and making it seem as if I’ve done an exhaustive study. After all, the purpose of these funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
essays is to give you my immediate, often ignorant, and sometimes humorous take on the words of the dictionary as they stumble out in order.

I know one thing about Corsica—it’s the birthplace of Napoleon.

I don’t know whether Corsica would advertise this. Napoleon is an enigma. If you study him as a general, a leader, or even as a French Emperor, he may be considered one of those overly zealous tyrants who come along every once in a while to shake things up and let us know that we need to be on the lookout for “rampagers.”

But in many ways, Napoleon Bonaparte was an Adolf Hitler without the compulsion to kill off Hebrews. He took advantage of the French Revolution, leaving the Francos trying to imitate the Americans, and ending up with a “spaghetti mess.”

He stepped in, established his authority, claimed himself to be the leader of the Holy Roman Empire incarnate and even took the crown from the hands of the priest who was trying to coronate him, and placed it upon his own head.

Thousands and thousands of people from Africa, to Asia and all across Europe were killed because of this man’s desire to conquer.

So intent was he on paying for his wars and ongoing struggle with the English, that he ended up selling the United States—from the Mississippi River all the way west to the Pacific Ocean, in a deal dubbed “the Louisiana Purchase.”

He sold it for pennies, even though it was not his land, and it belonged to countless tribes of Native Americans, who were not privy to the deal and received no remuneration.

But that was Napoleon.

I do believe, even though the average Corsican is probably willing to claim Napoleon as a son of their land, that the smart ones have discovered not to follow in his violent manner.


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Bunkum

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Bunkum: (n) nonsense

I love this word!

Matter of fact, I shall use it all day. It has already caused me to say “shall” instead of “will.”

It is so English–like a butler rejecting a delivery of peat moss because it’s unsuitable for the household flowers.

“Bunkum.”

And believe you me, I will find many opportunities to put the word into practice, considering that I habitually listen to the news. So every time I hear a report, rather than lowering myself to the common lingo of “alternative facts” or “counter theories,” I will simply declare it “bunkum.”

  • Our present health system: bunkum.

(Join in if you feel so led)

  • Leaving people hanging without recourse concerning their immigration status: bunkum.
  • Threatening old people that they might have a little less on a check that is already too less: bunkum.
  • Shooting missiles and discussing an acceptable number of civilian casualties: bunkum.
  • Having grown men and women who are more concerned about Parliamentary procedure than the power of just proceeding: bunkum.
  • Having religion as stale as four-day-old chocolate chip cookie and entertainment which tries to make comic book characters full of pathos: bunkum.

Please pardon me. I could go on and on, but then you would eventually look down at the long page of bunkum and probably think to yourself, “A-h-h-h…bunkum.

 

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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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Ballerina

Ballerina: (n) a female ballet dancer.Dictionary B

It is amazing to me, the things that pop to my mind when I hear the daily word that comes up through the luck of the draw of the dictionary–and suddenly an image is literally dancing across my consciousness, and no matter how hard I try to consider some other interpretation, it remains predominant.

I remember a very obscure song I knew as a young boy, which referred to a ballerina. (I could probably look up who did the song on the Internet, but I would lose the spontaneity by trying to impress you with my knowledge instead of impacting you with my experience.)

I think the song had a harpsichord in it and sounded a little old-fashioned, but it was a rock song that began with the haunting musical phrase, “I had a date with a pretty ballerina.”

And then, something about “her hair of gold was so bright it hurt my eyes.”

But what really struck me about the song was the lyric, “Was I surprised? No. Was I surprised? No, not at all.”

It was sung really high–in a falsetto.

As a kid, I loved that song, though I wouldn’t admit it to my friends, who thought it was really sissy.

The singer was one of those cast-offs from the British Invasion, who sounded very English, and therefore, to my Midwest ears, like he possibly was homosexual. (It was a different time…)

But this didn’t prevent me from having great emotion and affection for the song. It awakened me–that music, by itself, has a particular anointing, whether you understand the lyrics or comprehend the message or not.

So when I think of a ballerina, that song comes to my mind, and even though I don’t know who sang it or what the hell it was all about, it still conjures images of a dainty lady graced with great ability, pirouetting into my mundane life.

 

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Aye

Aye: (exclam) an exclamation said to express assent; yes.

It often baffles me.dictionary with letter A

Why do some people like to find the most difficult way to do things?

Maybe it’s my natural lazy nature. but I think taking just a few extra minutes to decide on the easiest and most logical way to accomplish your deeds is well worth the time.

I have no allegiance to any form of religion or politics. In both cases, I pursue common sense.

So when I find myself, on rare occasions, in meetings where Parliamentary Procedure is being honored as the correct way to conduct business, I am initially amused but ultimately aggravated.

As you well know, in the process of trying to follow this archaic system, arguments often break out over points of order. Soon it becomes more important whether Jim or Sally have chosen the right moment to begin discussion than the actual topic on which the vote is being taken.

So when I see the word “aye” it reminds me of that stuffy question posed: All those in favor say “aye.” All those opposed, “nay.”

  • I never say “aye” in my regular life.
  • I am also unaccustomed to “nay.”

So call me unconventional, or perhaps a renegade–but I do not like to do things, even for ten minutes, that have absolutely nothing to do with my functioning life. I find them them silly and annoying. So these are the three phrases that I avoid religiously:

  • “Please repeat after me.”
  • “Is there a second to that motion?”
  • Point of order.”

Perhaps, at the root of my soul, is an anarchist or a revolutionary.

I’m not sure.

But Parliamentary Procedure belongs in Parliament, which is part of those nasty English that we fought so hard to get away from.

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Armada

dictionary with letter A

Armada: (n) a fleet of warships.

Certainly when I see the word “armada,” my mind immediately pops off to think of the Spanish one.

The Spanish Armada was dubbed the greatest naval force that ever existed on Planet Earth. Because of that it was deemed invincible.

Matter of fact, the English, the French and even the pirates would avoid interfacing with this formidable fleet out of fear of being decimated by the sheer, brute force of its power.

But the Spanish Armada learned a valuable lesson, which is transferable into our times. Once you develop a reputation, you have two choices:

1. You can continue to work on getting better, using only your own standards as the criteria for excellence rather than comparing yourself to the surrounding, meager competition; or

2. You can continue to promote and advertise your status as supreme, hoping there will be no challenges to your claims,continuing to be all-powerful via publicity.

Can you guess which one is popular in the human race?

So while the Spanish Armada promoted itself, striking fear in the hearts of lesser navigators, the English, under the command of Sir Francis Drake, decided to improve its own boats–and eventually defeated them.

It’s not just that pride goes before a fall–it’s more that pride is the stumbling block that trips us up in our inadequacy, producing the tumble.

 

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Anti-Semitism

dictionary with letter AAnti-Semitism (n): a hostility toward or prejudice against Jews.

It is the duty of those who have suffered to make sure that they are not the perpetrators of suffering on the lives of others.

This is why the United States still struggles with the issue of race–because of our horrible history of slavery. It is our responsibility to make sure that we never allow such idiocy to reign supreme in our populace again.

And it is why the people of Germany have made it illegal to propagate any form of Nazi doctrine within its borders–because of the atrocities they committed against the Jews.

There are undoubtedly groups of people, even among Christians in our world, who have a hatred for the Jewish nation. There certainly is a conflict among the Arabs and Jews concerning rights to Mesopotamia.

Balancing this situation out in our society creates hypocrisy rather than understanding. Some people are so strongly against the Jews that they have no perspective on Hebrew rights and feelings. Others are so pro-Israel that they place no responsibility on the children of Abraham to show mercy on the other children of Abraham.

What is anti-Semitic, and what is merely challenging a group of people to be fair-minded?

It’s learning how to delineate between truth and opinion.

Here’s the truth:

The Jewish Council were the ones who brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate for crucifixion.

Here is also a truth:

The Jewish community, over the years, has been instrumental in discoveries, intelligent progress and humane endeavors.

Here’s a truth:

The Jews were granted the land of Israel after WWII by the English so they could have a homeland.

Here’s another truth:

The Palestinians are human beings and need to be given consideration for their rights and purposes.

It is not anti-Semitic to ask our Jewish brothers and sisters to accept an equality which welcomes peace on Earth. But it certainly is anti-Semitic to blame the Jews for things that have nothing to do with their journey or actions.

It is a political nightmare, a spiritual quagmire and the makings of a social faux pas.

But I love my Jewish friends enough to believe that they have the intellect to live up to the quality of humanity which has marked their fairness, their pursuits and their heritage.

 

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Amass

dictionary with letter A

Amass: (v.) to gather together or accumulate a large amount or number

Oh, cautious soul that I truly am, I am always suspicious of the majority.

When human beings amass in large quantities, stuffing themselves into arenas, large sanctuaries or convention halls, I become a bit disconcerted.

Because to gain applause you have to get the approval of many people at the same time. Already that connotes a great degree of compromise. It also encourages demagogues, who espouse the present popular stumping, screaming from the podium until the listeners become frenzied.

Every time I become concerned about my level of popularity or fame I go on the Internet and watch a news reel of Adolph Hitler circa 1932 in Germany. No one could have had more charisma. If you read his speeches in English, they are filled with nationalism, pride and a great sense of “Yay us.” So of course, people amassed behind such encouraging themes.

But here is the startling fact: human beings are just better when we’re not kissing our own ass (or nearby asses).

Certainly we require a certain amount of appreciation, but mingled in with that should be adequate doses of challenges, questioning and even the occasional on-the-spot review.

Although I realize that I am in the minority in my lack of acceptance for the majority, I will tell you that the best decisions I have made in my life, the most amazing transitions and the most valuable conclusions arrived at in my soul, were accomplished in moments of reflection, and punctuated by seasons of repentance.

  • So those who amass wealth are prodded in their spirits to give it away. If they aren’t, we call them “stingy butt-holes.”
  • Those who amass friends are in need of sharing that friendship with the entire world instead of swallowing it whole. Otherwise we think of them as glory-hounds, flitting from one party to another.
  • And those who amass respect are obligated to share it with “the least of the brethren” around them, so as not to convince the gathered horde that superiority has been achieved, and therefore the inferior ones should be trekked to the gas chamber.

I don’t believe in a lonely life. But I do believe that the “road less traveled” is not only quieter, but gives you a chance to look deep inside and discover the need for improvement.

 

Ain’t

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Ain’t: contraction of am not, are not, is not, will not: e.g. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Every three weeks I experience a ritual. Yes, quite predictable. Every twenty-one days, I get a note from some austere, tight-assed grammarian, commenting on my wording, syntax or style of expressing ideas. These people have three things in common:

  • They’re always sure they’re right.
  • They’re always sure I’m wrong.
  • They are affronted by my lack of understanding of proper writing and suggest that I go back to Hoboken or wherever I last mis-learned my craft.

My thought? The best way to get a pain in the ass is to sit on it too long doing nothing. Thus the critic.

I will tell you this: words are powerful when they communicate and useless when they don’t.

For instance, there are passages from the Good Book, which I am told is divinely inspired, which are incomprehensible. I will wager that most people who teach in English departments and promote the great works of literature have not read those volumes themselves but instead, rely on Cliff notes to summarize the material.

Let’s be honest: “I ain’t gonna study war no more” is the best way to express that sentiment. Other options, like, “I am not going to study war anymore” seem to lose some punch. Or how about this one? “The pursuit of studying war has lost its meaning for me.” I guess at that point it would change from being a Negro spiritual to a Harvard spiritual.

Even though my English teachers told me that the word “ain’t” should never be used and would eventually become obsolete, the truth is, the only thing that became obsolete were my English teachers.

Here are three quick criteria for good writing:

  1. It’s understandable.
  2. It tells a story.
  3. The story lives on.

Anything other than this is just an exercise in futility which doesn’t create muscles anywhere … except in your self-righteous ego.