Decatur

Decatur (n) a city in Eastern Indiana

 I’ve always tried to take my little and make it more.

I don’t think it was solely based on pride.

I felt a calling to make things better and more harmonious through the use of common sense and humor.

That being said, there is a danger with aspiration. To aspire often means we need to perspire, and even expire.

Putting forth effort often invites futility.

So long, long ago in our country, which seemed far away, I had a music group. We met a fellow in Detroit who was an ex-drug addict, was very clever, comical and had a good message. It occurred to me that we possibly could get him into some schools to speak on the dangers of drug addiction, and that our music group could “play him on” and “play him off.” I shared this idea with a young minister at a Christian church in Decatur, Indiana.

He was so enthralled with the idea that he enacted it.

Yes, he scheduled our group and our ex-druggie friend into three schools in the county, with a rally in the evening to be held at the City Auditorium.

It was big. At least, big for us.

It was especially promising when our friend from Detroit agreed to drive down and do the schools and the rally. He arrived, we went to the first school—and everything went pretty well.

I was a little uncomfortable with how freely he bragged about the drugs he took as a way of communicating to the students that he knew what he was talking about.

It was worse at the second school. Matter of fact, the only times he really connected with the students were when he was promoting his former drug use instead of his conversion.

I was upset.

I asked him if he could calm down the drug talk a little bit, and he explained that without him appearing hip to the students, none of them would listen.

I disagreed.

To my surprise, he became upset with my intervention, stormed out of the third high school before the program began, left and went back to Detroit.

Our little white Middle-America group was left alone, to do the third school and the evening rally.

I would like to report to you that it went great.

I would like to say that we didn’t need our Detroit friend. But when the students arrived for the rally that evening, they were greatly disappointed that Mr. Cool was not in the building and they were stuck with us.

It was a long night.

I really don’t know what the moral of this story is.

I suppose you could take away that making a stand in the middle of something that’s been pre-planned is a dangerous idea. Or you could say that objecting to something you disagree with is always necessary, no matter what the repercussions.

But I have to tell you, even as I relate the tale to you now, I sure would like to know how good it would have been if our Detroit token toker had stayed around.

 

Dally

Dally: (v) to waste time; loiter; delay

I, for one, have grown weary of the judgmental attitude of the New Oxford Dictionary.

First of all, what’s so new about it? It acts like my grandma the first time she saw me in a turtleneck. Or for that matter, the first time Grandma saw me in anything that wasn’t popular in 1950.

Let us understand—I believe in the power of “dally.”

So much am I a supporter that I have linked my dilly with my dally to form a meaningful experience: dillydally.

Mr. Oxford, I am not wasting time. I am preserving it, lengthening it and treasuring it by sitting down and relaxing instead of hustling along, trying to prove I am some sort of “great worker.”

It certainly is not loitering, as you suggest. I am not perched on a park bench feeding the pigeons, sticking out my tin cup to receive donations from the innocent park-walkers.

Wasting time? Hardly. How is it wasting time to try to elongate moments by creating a slower pace of a more pleasurable style?

Truthfully, I do not see that people who rally produce more than those who dally.

And when you add a good dilly in on top of it—that being the desire to find something humorous along the way—you set yourself up in a lifestyle that is sparkling and tries to accentuate every breath, squeezing potential out of each second as it goes by.

I would dare to say that Thomas Edison, arguably the greatest inventor of all time, uncovered the light bulb in the midst of a dally. Exhausted over failures, he slowed down and decided to just experiment, and in so doing, found the correct filament to light up his life—and yours and mine as well.

I think there are many Presidents that did more during their dally time than they ever did campaigning, pushing, shoving and attacking.

So here’s to the dally.

May we always be in the pursuit of a simpler way to do things, a happier way of accomplishing them and a sense of utter relaxation while pursuing.

Covert Action

Covert action: (n) a secret action undertaken to influence the course of political events, as a government intelligence operation.

Stubborn doesn’t work.

Oh, we think it does. Somehow or another we believe that “sticking to our guns” empowers us to win the day.

Think about that phrase: “sticking to your guns.”

May I point out that if you’ve had to introduce a gun into a situation, maybe arbitration has failed.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

We live in a time when people are impressed with the ability to stubbornly hold on to their politics and their beliefs. It makes it very difficult to have the kind of intelligent conversation which allows for everyone to walk away, head out the door, and on their way home, change their minds just a little.

Maybe that’s the best we can do—just change ourselves a teeny bit, so we don’t come across too predictable or too obnoxious.

Yet I will tell you—it is fruitless to approach a stubborn person with a stubborn profile. You will never argue down someone who’s argumentative. And for those who believe they have found the secret of God, you are wasting your time blurting out a piece of theological insight that might enhance their profile and journey.

Those who still give a damn, wish to see some change and are yearning for a humanity that is as humane to humans as it is to animals, well…

If that’s what you want, you’re going to have to be covert.

You’re going to need to be humorous when others are blatantly serious.

You’re going to be required to bring some gravitas when the world seems to have gone tipsy on an alcoholic binge.

And you’re going to have to find ways to say good things in a better way, in order to convince anyone to honor the best.

You will not be able to speak to Republicans if they smell “donkey” on you.

Likewise, those Democrats can see an “elephant” coming a mile away.

What is needed is a covert action, if we’re going to change the politics, the spirituality, the manners, the integrity, the ethics and the temperament of our time.

We will have to cease to punch their conscience and instead, create new ways to tickle their fancy.

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Clueless

Clueless: (adj) having no knowledge, understanding, or ability.

Three categories.

No knowledge: Hardly seems likely. In this information age, a decision to go without knowledge has to be a purposeful dodge to avoid it. It’s feasible, but even if we’re trying to escape, some of the volume still pierces our defenses. Therefore it’s difficult to use “no knowledge” as an excuse for avoiding responsibility.

No understanding: The ability to interpret the circumstances around us and come up with a suitable solution does require engaging our souls. If we’re just looking into a pool of self-interest or trying to ignore becoming connected with the people around us, we can certainly pretend we did not understand the severity of the situation.

Yet if you’re around someone who’s crazy and they threaten to do something drastic, it is unlikely that you can claim ignorance of the crime.

No ability: We might lack expertise. Expertise is achieved when we take the ability we have and teach it to be useful.

The concept of “natural talent” is humorous. The idea that our ability arrives intact and ready to go is mind-boggling.

Ability demands an obstacle course before it can be classified as capable of overcoming obstacles.

Clueless is a choice.

Attempting to remove oneself from knowledge, understanding and ability might temporarily give us the free pass of grace, but ultimately exposes us as charlatans who run away from the heat of the battle.

 

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Centipede

Centipede: (n) a small, predatory, long, thin animal with many legs.

Ignorance can be very appealing and humorous–as long as it’s presented as the stupidity it truly is. Matter of fact, humor is often the
exposure of ignorance.

There are times I pull up a word for this daily essay and decide to study a little further, so that the information I impart to you is tinged with accuracy. (God knows I wouldn’t want to give you fake or faulty facts.)

But on this particular day, I chose NOT to look up anything on the centipede because my ignorant understanding of it is so darling.

Over the years I did not know the difference between a centipede and a millipede, except that one creature touts a hundred legs and the other brags a thousand.

What always tickled my funny-bone was the knowledge that the animal with the hundred legs is quite large and dangerous, while the “slitherer” with a thousand legs is small and fairly harmless.

So much like our world.

When in doubt, when feeling insecure, when confronted with competition–over-advertise. Exaggerate.

The millipede was certainly intimidated by the prowess of the centipede, so it picked a name that immediately had legs to it. A thousand, to be exact.

So over the years, whenever I thought about these beings, I always reminded myself that the one who bragged about the most appendages was actually the weaker.

Huh.

Maybe there’s a lesson there.

 

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Buster

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Buster: (n) a mildly disrespectful or humorous form of address, especially to a man or boy.

Beware of an aunt who doesn’t have children of her own, and insists that she “really loves kids,” who comes to visit and in no time at all is so irritated that she starts referring to you as “buster.”

I had one.

I will not mention her name out of deference to her feelings, even though she has since passed away. We always have hope for people when they go to a proposed afterlife. For my aunt, my hope is that it is an adult-living condominium with no children allowed.

I will have to admit to you–she tried. Each time she arrived at our home, she came with a fresh, energetic approach, to relate to us kids as human beings.

She always brought books instead of toys. And these were books that were at least five years too old for us. There were no pictures, and she would always take at least ten minutes explaining the history, background and mission of the author.

She would also bring a casserole with her, ablaze with color and all kinds of ingredients, but for some reason, the taste and texture of it always reminded me of asparagus snot. (Now, I don’t personally know what asparagus snot is, but I thought it was a very descriptive way to relate my feelings about the dish.) More annoying, she stood over me and waited for me to taste it before I got the chance to scrape it into the trash can or slide it under the table for my hapless dog to slurp.

Also, this particular aunt was always on the verge of tears. Now, it didn’t take much. One day I was yelling at my little brother because he wouldn’t help me with the trash cans, and she came over to hug him in the most exorbitant way, looking up at me as she did, scolding me for failing to be sensitive to one of God’s precious creatures.

Interestingly though, it didn’t seem to bother her that when she talked to me, she was always suggesting that I lose weight, tuck in my shirt, or, on several occasions, remarking on how bad my breath was. I guess you had to be a little kid to be one of God’s creatures.

My aunt was a woman who married once, got a divorce, never had children–but was sure she would have been the best mother in the world.

Whenever I was out of line, she looked at me with her fiery eyes and said, “Buster, you should be glad I’m not your mother!”

She was right.

I was.

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Bad-mouth

Bad-mouth: (v) to criticize (someone or something); speak disloyally of.Dictionary B

  • Tongue-in-cheek
  • Satire
  • Sarcasm
  • Cynical
  • Jaded

Now, each one of these words is probably considered to be its own entity, but I would contend that what we have here is a descending process toward losing one’s faith.

Because somewhere along the line, joking about the need for change and beginning to just bad-mouth humanity because you’ve abandoned all passion for the race are two quite different things.

Maybe in my own simple way, I could clarify my meaning by giving you definitions for each of these steps in this decline:

  1. Tongue-in-cheek: humorously pointing out a contradiction in our philosophy which shows a need for change.
  2. Satire: comparing that little piece of hypocrisy to previous hypocrisies in a jocular way.
  3. Sarcasm: similar to satire, except accompanied by more of a sneer, a jeer or even a leer.
  4. Cynical: sharing an angry humor over the futility of human effort to achieve anything of quality, while portraying a nasty edge
  5. Jaded: a loss of love for fellow-humans, which also causes one to feel unloved.

When you live in the monkey cage, it is alright to joke about the odor or maybe even the over-dependence on bananas–as long as you freely admit that you are contributing to the stink, and certainly possess the same addiction to the fruit.

 

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Applicant

dictionary with letter A

Ap·pli·cant (n): a person who makes a formal application for something, typically a job.

Filling out a form often has no reason.

I have done my share, as I’m sure you have.

Matter of fact, in the business world, being handed a form to fill out is often considered to be a formal greeting. Sometimes there’s a clipboard so you can sit and write on your knee, using the pen attached by some sort of wire.

They are certainly attempting to communicate that this is part of their process, and demanded if you plan to be included in their little cult of the organized.

Each application has its own personality. It also has its own level of nosiness.

At a doctor’s office, an application can include questions that go back into the lifestyles of your ancient ancestors.

Did my great-grandfather have rheumatic fever? (Honestly, I don’t know, so I make up an answer.)

If you’re applying for a loan at a bank, they want to know lots of things about your lots of things–even lots of things about your little things. And especially little things about lots of things.

Probably the most grating experience in the human panorama is watching someone peruse your application while you sit, wiggling and squirming in silence.

  • Did I answer right?
  • How was my penmanship? (Mrs. Bosley always said I made really ugly “n’s.” Of course, I was in the first grade…)

Yes, there’s nothing quite as frustrating–dare I say aggravating–as being condemned over answers scrawled on a piece of paper.

And I have made the mistake of trying to be humorous on such applications, only to have the interviewer, who obviously has no mirth anywhere within his or her soul, question me as to the meaning of my answer. At that point, it hardly seems to be appropriate to say, “I was kidding,” and saying I misunderstood the question is even more embarrassing.

No, being an applicant and filling out an application is serious business.

It demands an adult mind–one which is still childish enough to believe that such filling in the blanks is actually a microcosm of one’s life.

 

 

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Appease

dictionary with letter A

Appease (v.): to make (someone) calm or less hostile by agreeing to their demands.

“There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end of it is destruction.”

That’s a damned strong proverb.

  • Why aren’t there things that seem to be right in our present thinking that don’t end up destroying us?
  • Why can’t we use reasoning power to discover paths of goodness instead of falling victim to ridiculous conclusions that render us devastated?
  • Is there nothing good in us?
  • Are we devoid of understanding unless divine intervention snatches us from the pit of delusion?

I don’t think God has given up on the human race. I hope humanism hasn’t given up on God. We just need to remember that appeasing certain aspects of iniquity and stupidity is to become entangled in a web of deceit.

So I have to ask myself, where am I vulnerable to such lunacy? Where does my desire to get along with everyone place me in the roll of victim instead of victor? How much collaboration is possible before it becomes dangerous compromise?

There are some things we cannot give up, even to appease:

1. No one is better than anyone else.

Any philosophy that tries to teach otherwise needs to be given the chance to change its position, and if not, needs to be abandoned.

2. Men and women are in this together, not as enemies, but as equals.

So even though many of my peers find it extremely humorous to joke about the battle between the sexes, ultimately there must be a peace treaty, or our race will never make progress.

3. Liberty and justice for all.

Especially for those I don’t agree with. Yes, I must caution my spirit to make sure that my preferences don’t cloud the common sense of granting freedom to my neighbors.

4. Lying is wrong.

Even when I do it.

And lying is the spreading of any untruth or misinformation, even if it seems to advance a good cause.

5. And finally, we are not alone and we’re also not helpless.

True spirituality is accepting the fact that there is a God–but He has entrusted us to do His earthly work.

If I find myself giving in to other people on these issues just so we can have a more pleasant conversation and not get indigestion over our Beef Wellington at dinner, then I stall civil liberties in favor of civility.

If you like sausage and onion on your pizza instead of mushrooms and broccoli, I will join you for one evening, munching on your predilection.

If you want to discuss your superiority over another race, religion or orientation…then be prepared for me to disagree.

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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.