Conform

Conform: (v) to comply

In case you occasionally slip up and start thinking there is some sanity in the actions of our social order, let me remind you of the greatest piece of hypocrisy ever hatched in the henhouse of clucking. Here it is:

“Be yourself but follow the rules.”

It is the message of America.

Both of us–you and me–are encouraged to be creative individuals, and then are informed that the advice given is faulty.

There’s an ancient piece of philosophy which challenges us: “Be not conformed but be transformed.”

In 1962, if you were living anywhere in America, the general consensus would have been that segregation of the races was not only the norm of the day, but funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
actually proper.

In 1966, you would have been struck down as anti-American if you suggested the war in Vietnam was anything other than a bold act of patriotism.

In 1971, you would have been laughed out of the room if you had proposed that black athletes should be able to play college sports in the Southeast Conference.

In 1981, the thought of homosexuality being part of the mainstream would have brought you criticism and cost you many friends.

In 1998, you would have been totally out of step to insist that oral sex was actually sex.

In 2003, suggesting that the war in Iraq was a foolish ploy would have brought the house down on top of your head.

And as I have recently found, in this day and age suggesting that the archaic American voting system is an insult to the notion of democracy, makes me an enemy of God, America and most ingredients in the apple pie.

You can conform–as long as you’re willing to be considered foolish within twenty years.

 

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Condone

Condone: (v) to approve or sanction something,

Life is a perpetual pursuit to discover the boundaries, borders and limitations of what is just none of my goddamn business.

If I become exhausted in this worthy quest, I will soon start objecting to things that other people are doing simply because I do not want funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
anyone to think that I condone such irregularities.

This is why governments release well-worded rebukes to other governments about their comings and goings, so as to make sure the history books will note their disapproval.

For years we did this over the subject of divorce. It was so looked down upon in our society that people were ashamed to admit they had marital problems for fear of being ostracized–for even thinking about calling it quits.

Those in the gay community were repeatedly informed by the righteous rabble that they were loved as people, but hated for their sin. (However, since that sin was considered to be homosexuality, it was a little bit difficult to separate it from their lives, to receive the love instead of being stung by the hate.)

I don’t think Facebook could exist if people weren’t condoning one thing while condemning another, to make sure it appeared they were not in a condoning mood.

To read what people write in criticizing one another, you would assume they have removed all beams from their own eye, and are clear-sighted to evaluate and critique the world around them.

Not me.

I will run from any instinct to judge another person, which also gives me license to not be present to condone.

Matter of fact, that running may be the only exercise I’m getting.

 

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Broaden

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Broaden: (v) to widen

Searching until one finds a moral certainty.

It used to be the goal of the human race. Obviously, we never achieved it. Otherwise we wouldn’t have burned witches, hated people of different colors or put leeches on sick folk to heal them of pneumonia.Dictionary B

Often moral certainty is an interpretation of a code of ethics printed in a book–whether it’s the Bible or “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” We scour the material to find the commandments that assure us that we are on the high ground.

The difficulty with this procedure is that simultaneously, the inclusion of other lifestyles suggests that we broaden our outlook on morality–often to the detriment or even deterioration of some of our certainties.

When I was a boy divorce was bad. Now it ranges from being painful to necessary, but obviously common.

Things like abortion, homosexuality and marijuana smoking were condemned and even prosecuted. Now we have been asked to broaden our definitions of acceptable behavior to counteract what was once considered to be a certainty, and instead, deem it a transition in our understanding.

Because we are broadening ourselves so much, we are definitely yanking at the seams of the moral conscience.

So what is immoral?

Without doubt, the denigration of another human being for the satisfaction of our pleasure or religious fervor is immoral.

The purposeful bullying or intimidation of an individual or group of souls falls into the spectrum of unseemly.

But are there carnal acts or deeds that we consider immoral?

Stealing, for instance, is permissible if done on a corporate level instead of a “pauper” one.

Sexuality has to have justification and mutual adult consent to be given license.

And the immorality of indifference to the plight of others can even be disguised as a political maneuver.

I am not a great advocate of moral certainty–but I will tell you that merely broadening our horizons does not guarantee that we see the truth.

 

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Appear

dictionary with letter A

Appear: (v) to seem: ex. it appeared to be true.

  • Appearances are deceiving
  • Things are not as they appear.

It is always fascinating to me that human beings are granted certain gifts which enable us to function in an intelligent way in a topsy-turvy world, and then we are told not to trust these senses.

If it isn’t as it appears, then what is it?

Sometimes I get confused by knowledge which is imparted to me and then retracted so as to leave the door open for future contradictions.

I need the ability to look at what is set before me and make brilliant decisions. There is a danger in second guessing. There certainly is potential for disaster in delaying action.

What does it appear to be?

  1. It appears to me that color of skin makes very little difference in the viability of the humans around of me to interact, procreate and work together.
  2. It appears to me that homosexuality is not my choice and therefore it will take me a while to get used to the idea, but in the meantime it appears to me that I can grant the gay community the dignity I give to myself.
  3. It appears to me that our political system has broken down in its own lavish overstatement and needs to be retooled to meet the needs of the population.
  4. It appears to me that religion has replaced God.
  5. It appears to me that men and women are very much the same 95% of the time, and I am a fool to focus on the trailing number.
  6. It appears to me that if I don’t lose some weight I will die sooner rather than later.
  7. It appears to me that my talent is sufficient to give me room and board for the rest of my life if I don’t freak out.
  8. It appears to me that I am more appealing when I’m not judgmental.
  9. It appears to me that God has given me eyes to see what appears, and have a sound mind to think good and pure thoughts instead of negative and dark ones.

Even though we find ourselves to be a generation of enlightened and knowledgable souls, we often remove the greatest gift we have by rejecting the responsibility that has been given to us: to learn and deal with what appears to be. 

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Alternative

dictionary with letter A

Alternative: (adj.) available as another possibility: e.g. the various alternative methods for resolving disputes

Webster’s dictionary definition is very generous.

In a world where the status quo is extolled as not only being common, but nearly godly in its significance, a concept like “alternative” is almost always associated with being out of the flow.

  • Alternative rock: another name for “your rock band has no chance of being played on Top 40 Radio.”
  • Alternative lifestyle: a warning shouted by Middle America to discourage you from moving into their neighborhood.
  • Alternative political party: a guarantee that you will only receive votes from family members.
  • Alternative worship experience: the real one is happening at eleven o’clock, but we’re going to let the kids play around at nine.

Here’s what I know about alternative: if I’m in a room discussing an issue with friends, family, acquaintances and by-standers, and somebody offers an idea that may be contrary to the norm but addresses a need that no one has yet considered, it is no longer an alternative view, but rather, a necessary inclusion.

Bluntly, just because people don’t agree with me does not mean they don’t possess smart ideas that are required to form the solution.

It doesn’t matter what issue we are trying to finagle–from gun control to abortion to immigration to war to homosexuality–well, the list goes on and on. What is required to make the requirement is to listen to others tell you what they require.

What we are calling alternative opinions are often pieces of the puzzle which must be kept in readiness, so when we get to the end and find out we’re incomplete, they can be placed in their needful position to form the picture.

It reminds me of the story of the feeding of the five thousand from the Good Book. After the initial miracle of providing grub for a large crowd with limited funds for the menu, Jesus tells the disciples to “gather up the leftovers, that nothing be lost.” I am sure they thought it was stupid. Everybody was stuffed; they had gorged themselves on food. What was the purpose of carrying around twelve baskets of extras?

Simple. He was telling these fellows that somewhere along the line they were going to need them.

If we throw away every idea that is not part of our own philosophy, when our reasoning breaks down, we will not have the available knowledge to know how to address the issue.

In 1961 in Birmingham, Alabama, there were many white persons who were fully aware that segregation was not only filled with error, but useless. Yet because alternative views were not allowed on the subject matter, we were forced to produce a bloody conclusion instead of an intelligent one.

I know what I think. But I also know I need to think.

In order for that to work, I must realize that the alternative values of today may very well become the mainstream thinking of tomorrow.


Affront

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Affront: (n) an action or remark that causes outrage or offense

Sixty years.

If you think about it, it’s not really that long. But in sixty years of life, I have been offered many ideas, which, as time has passed, have gone from being the common sense of my day to being opinions that AFFRONT.

Let me give you some examples:

When I was eight years old, I was told that black people were inferior. They weren’t “bad,” just more or less one step up from monkeys, but a step down from my Midwest, white friends and family. Yet you can see, if I held any part of that conviction today, I would affront many–or maybe even most–people.

When I was fourteen years old I was told that rock and roll was “of the devil.” Matter of fact, I read a book about how the beat came from Africa and had the potential to turn us into animals instead of enlightened creatures of Eden. Alas, if I promoted this idea today, there would be great possibility of affrontation.

May I proceed?

All through my teenage years, I was told by my church and even my school that a woman’s place was “in the home.” Interestingly, most of the girls in my senior class were encouraged to take Home Economics, and any boy who might decide to join the class would be ridiculed right out of the school. Move ahead. Stating such a premise in public nowadays would put you in danger of being shunned, if not stoned.

I go on.

When my wife became pregnant with our first child and we were not ready, we considered abortion. But because our upbringing and the world around us told us it was murder, we passed. Now, if you were to state that abortion is murder in a public arena, you would be labeled an ultra-conservative right-wing nut.

Can I give you another one?

“Marijuana is a dangerous drug.” I grew up with that conviction. But just the other day I discovered that fifty-eight percent of the country now contend that it should be legalized. How “backwoods-bumpkin” would you look to disagree?

And finally, throughout my childhood and even my young adult years, it was common knowledge that homosexuality was abnormal. Move ahead a couple of decades. Such an assertion would be met with violent opposition and you certainly should be prepared to be ostracized.

It reminds me of the question that a governor once asked a convicted felon right before his execution. His name was Pilate and he said, “What is truth?”

Is truth what is best for human beings, or what is easiest to sell to the masses? It may take a generation that decides to discuss and learn what is functional instead of getting up in arms over their cause to finally arrive at what works for the human family.

Who knows? Maybe sixty years from now.