Civics

Civics: (n) the study of the rights and duties of citizenship.

I was a freshman. At least, I think I was.

The class was called “Civics.” I’m pretty convinced that it doesn’t exist today, or it’s absorbed into some other aspect of social studies.

It was a combination of history, government and propaganda.

History in the sense that it took the time to explain why the founding individuals decided on the choices they pursued.

Government in the sense that it broke down what was referred to as “the balance of power” among the executive, legislative and the judicial.

And propaganda because it strenuously attempted to convince us that this form of representation was the best in the world, and that the balance of power was actually balanced.

But for balance of power to work, requires balanced people. Sometimes we forget that government is just an idea until folks of integrity and single-mindedness honor it.

So referring back to my civics:

  • The legislative branch is supposed to make the laws.
  • The executive branch enforces them.
  • And the judicial branch interprets them.

Well, you might immediately see that the whole system is out of whack.

Perhaps it would be a better idea to interpret the laws before we pass them and enforce them. Otherwise we put ourselves through the agonizing strain of legalizing activities which later have to be found unconstitutional.

By the time I got out of Civics class and looked at the history of the United States–too many wars, too much indecision, too little compassion for all its citizenry–I realized that every system put together by committee is rarely suitable for the individual.

And since we are a country of individuals, trying to work in union, the greatest civics that we can institute is a pair of ears with a mind to cooperation.

 

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Citizen

Citizen: (n) a legal personage of a country

He loves his country but not to the exclusion of others.

She salutes the flag but well knows the weaknesses of her government.

He is offended but doesn’t become offensive by dishonoring the nation.

She works very hard to overcome her prejudiced training, to welcome those from all colors and walks of life.

He learns from the past, to bless the present, to set in motion a better future.

She weeps over those who have been wounded by history and joins them hand-in-hand to make sure it never happens that way again.

He doesn’t demand that everybody do things his way, but instead, tries to understand their journey, their perspective and their patriotism.

She stops complaining about inequality and every day proves through her life that she is equal to the challenge.

He freely admits where his homeland has failed.

She celebrates the times when common sense overcame political patronage.

They joined together to believe in a country that has heart and soul, and not just mind and strength.

They are citizens.

They make us great.

They make our country possible.

They are the currency of this nation’s wealth.

 

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Choosy

Choosy: (adj) overly fastidious in making a choice.

Oh, there goes Webster again.

For some reason, the dictionary feels it’s important to offer a certain amount of social commentary in describing the words that are showcased.

Here is the truth of the matter as far as I know: if you are not choosy, eventually you don’t get to choose, and you’re stuck with what’s chosen for you.

Welcome to Earth.

So portraying “choosy” as a negative attitude is the propaganda of governments, religionists, politicians and Madison Avenue agents, who would really like to plan your entire life, but feel that saying this bluntly might scare you away. So instead, they connote that you are “choosy” if you do not choose what they want you to choose on any chosen occasion.

If the dinner menu for the night is barbecued baked beans with barbecued beef and barbecued corn bread with barbecued pudding for dessert, folks might frown at you if, in a choosy way, you insist you prefer not to “go barbecue” tonight.

The problem in our world is not that people are too choosy. The difficulty lies in the fact that we’re not given enough choice.

  • Politics is divided into two major parties, with a whisker’s difference between the pair.
  • Churches insist they offer varieties of services, while simultaneously delivering the same spiritually tone-deaf message.
  • And the clothing in the department stores settles into shades that are determined to be this season’s preference, with stylings which are the “hit of the catwalk.”

What would happen if Americans actually did become choosy?

If we decided not to let the critics determine the best motion pictures?

If we didn’t leave it up to aging librarians to pick out the top books?

What if we had an open marketplace, an open discussion, an open spirit and an open mind–to give things a platform and see how they fared?

What if the whole world were a blind taste test? How would McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Apple, Democrats, Republicans and the religious system chart?

I’m choosy–and pretty proud of it. I often disagree with other people about my choices, but never in a disagreeable way.

But I’m not about to believe that something being popular gives it any more credence than I am to think that the hula-hoop was meant to last forever.

 

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Chinese

Chinese: (adj) relating to China or its language, culture, or people.

My daughter-in-law is from China.

She is the wife of my godson. They have two beautiful children. I don’t see them much because they live in China.

My first encounters with this dear lady were enlightening. We struck up an immediate friendship, and I was deeply impressed by her work
ethic, her respect and her honoring of those who have more age then herself.

But she is Chinese. She was raised under an absolute totalitarian form of government, which discourages people from being inventive. Now, the Chinese diplomats would probably take issue with that, but the danger of trying to make everyone the same is that they take you up on it. And once sameness has been achieved, the desire to excel, be different or discover an original path seems pointless.

In our capitalistic system, discouragement comes from a different arena. We are constantly pumped full of the helium of hope–that anyone can be wealthy and successful, while simultaneously closing doors of finance and opportunity on ideas coming from ingenious folks who weren’t born with any spoon in their mouth.

I suppose the controversy rages over which system hampers the human spirit the most. Is it more vindictive to quell creativity, or much more punishing to be creative and unable to find the means to your end?

I suppose my daughter-in-law and I could talk about this for hours. But the real issue is free will. Although many religionists and politicians would persist in trying to steal it from the human condition, God is intensely committed to free will.

So where the Spirit of God exists, there is liberty.

I have the choice to be lazy, productive, genuine, fake, kind or mean. Then I also have the responsibility to rise and fall on my choice.

It would be amazing if the Chinese people, with their great traditions and immense passion for excellence, could be unleashed with creativity and complete freedom, to choose their own path. Would they maintain the quality of their passion, or become complainers like many capitalists?

I don’t know.

True spirituality is feeling responsible without being confined, and being creative without insisting you’re entitled.

 

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Cherry-Pick

Cherry-pick: (v) to selectively choose (the most beneficial items) from what is available.

Living in an era when social slop is often offered as emotional cuisine, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the bad from the good and call it ugly.

Matter of fact, upon reading the word “cherry-pick” this morning, a negative feeling came over me–images of prissy people sitting around
choosing their favorites based upon preference in design and structure.

People often say that I cherry-pick my political views, missions and certainly my spirituality. So to those critics, let me say with full-throated confidence:

You are right.

I have no idea if what I believe about government would actually work, but in my mind it is certainly preferable to the “dance of the dunce” that we presently parade in Washington, D.C.

I don’t know if I am any kind of expert on television, movies and entertainment–I just know that I don’t like anything that doesn’t both entertain and inspire me.

And I certainly cannot contend that the Gospel I believe in is completely in line with the one that was in the mind of the Nazarene who strolled the Earth in loincloth so many centuries ago. But after many years of living, I believe it is still the good news that actually functions in the hearts of all cultures.

It is time we begin to cherry-pick:

Start liking movies for their content instead of who stars in them or who directs them.

Begin to believe in ideas, not because 25,000 people gather to cheer them on, but because they are full of mercy and grace.

Listen to music that stuns our consciousness with an immersion of human awareness instead of merely demonstrating the height and breadth of technology.

I am a cherry-picker–and because of that, I have found my life to be fruitful.

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Changeover

Changeover: (n) a change from one system or situation to another.

Once again, the system we have precariously referred to as democracy has created a changeover from one leader to another.

It happens every four to eight years, but each time it does, there are those among us who foretell of great evil and damnation because a
certain individual is occupying The Chair.

I have all sorts of chairs in my house. They’ve been occupied by a great variety of humans–and also creatures. But the truth of the matter is, the chair still maintains its quality and dignity.

We have selected a form of government that revels in the ridiculous notion of changeover. Businesses do not do this–they search and search until they find a good CEO and they keep that individual in the position until he or she dies or retires.

But not America.

We feel that a “musical chairs” approach to governing will grant us freedom from fascism. It might be true if those who were knocking over other people to get into the chair did not have a bit of fascism in themselves.

So when Eisenhower became President everyone was sure that as a general, he would try to take over the government with the military.

John Kennedy was going to let the Pope rule the country.

Lyndon Johnson would turn the United States over to the control of angry Negroes.

Richard Nixon was determined to bomb Southeast Asia into oblivion.

Jimmy Carter was so peaceful that he would lead us into war.

Ronald Reagan might tax America into poverty with his “trickle-down economics.”

George Bush, Sr., could cripple us with wars in the Middle East.

Bill Clinton was going to legalize every vice in America and have our children offered marijuana cookies in the cafeteria.

George Bush, Jr., would try to finish his Daddy’s war until he bankrupted the country.

Barack Obama–turn the nation over to African-Americans, while white people would be killed in the streets by the anti-Christ.

And now, folks claim that Donald Trump is going to lead us to the brink of destruction and thermonuclear war.

It’s just a changeover, folks.

As always, it is ugly, perhaps foolish and filled with mishaps.

But because we have taught ourselves in this republic to be more critical than helpful, it is virtually impossible for any one human being to devastate the glory of our freedom and the power of our principles.

 

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Bubble

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Bubble: (n) used to refer to a fortunate situation that is isolated from reality or unlikely to last.

When my parents told me there was no Santa Claus, the revelation that the rumor had been greatly exaggerated did not totally deflate my young, eleven-year-old soul.

It’s not because I thought it was alright for them to mislead me, and it wasn’t because I found the Nordic purveyor of toys to be Dictionary Bpersonally distasteful.

It’s that nothing really changed.

I was getting toys–and I continued to get toys. The fact that they weren’t coming from the North Pole was somewhat insignificant.

Even if I wanted to be huffy about the “fake news” concerning Mr. Claus, it was difficult for me to make a major case, considering the fact that I still had the presents.

But when I was told that the government of the United States was “for the people, by the people and of the people,” and as an adult I discovered there is much misrepresentation to that assertion–well, it’s a different “checks and balances.”

It will also be much more disappointing if I find out that God was a Holy-Land-Hoax.

In both cases, I can’t live in a bubble or isolate myself and pretend I don’t know.

Because with no government or God, the toys quickly disappear.

The absence of a good government opens the door to all sorts of graft, corruption and scandal.

Likewise, to be minus a deity is a guarantee that my eternal home will be grave circumstances, with my dreams turning to dust.

This is serious stuff, folks.

I can live without Santa Claus.

I cannot prosper if our government is dishonest or if the two-party system is a one-lane road to dissension.

And I certainly don’t want to spend my Earthly life revering a supernatural being who ends up merely the figment of the imagination of Bedouin nomads.

Help.

What can I do to make sure that my leaders–Republican and Democrat–honor the premise of liberty?

And who should I have been if God ends up taking the Santa Claus nose dive?

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