Cultural Diversity

Cultural Diversity: (n) the inclusion of diverse people in a group or organization

I was very surprised when I first discovered the varieties of chickens that are available. Matter of fact, it was during a slide show where a renowned farmer and breeder was explaining that “this group of birds over here was like this,” and “this group of birds over there had the following attributes…”

But as each slide passed in front of my eyes, all I could see were chickens.

I understand that’s because I am not an expert on the subject. Someone who studied it for years can look closely and find all sorts of indications that one conglomeration of chickens has a certain temperament, and another grouping is prone to a completely different behavior—not to mention that each one has unique desires for how they wish their parched corn to be seasoned.

I felt very stupid.

I was told that in some cases, an intermingling of these chickens will produce the most profitable and successful flocking.

But the professional also explained that focusing on one particular breed does allow for purity and predictability.

At the end of the lecture my head was spinning as I continued to peer at each slide in the show, forcing myself to notice miniscule differences.

The aberrations were quite important to this professional birdwatcher, but for the life of me, I could not distinguish one culture of “cluckers” from another. There were some unique colors and maybe a slight difference in beaks.

But it was all basically the same.

At the end of the evening, our guest speaker brought out cooked pieces of chicken from each one of the tribes of feathered friends. He explained the individuality we would experience while sampling each culture.

At the end of the demonstration I was very embarrassed.

When he asked me what I learned from the evening, I sheepishly looked at him and said, “It all tastes like chicken.”

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cripple

Cripple: (n) a person who is disabled or impaired in any way:

Webster considers the word “cripple” to be offensive.

I wonder if we have reached a point in our play-it-safe-society where, in trying to pursue what we might refer to as neutral language, we’ve actually ended up becoming more offensive by pointing out that this particular language which we now eschew is forbidden because the people it refers to are constantly perceived as underdogs.

Honestly, I never gave the first thought about someone in a wheelchair until I found myself in one.

I suppose I assumed that they were paralyzed, or perhaps had been so stricken by disease that they were unable to stand and walk.

Certainly, my training as a good Midwestern Christian let me know that such individuals required healing, and if Jesus were really here, he would quickly get them back on their feet.

But you see, what is really offensive is believing that because a person can’t walk, he or she is less than someone who can, and therefore we must be careful not to offend them with some misused term.

After all, there was a time when the word “retarded” to the average person meant exactly the same thing in exactly the same spirit as the word “challenged.”

Is it less vicious to call someone challenged than to call him or her retarded?

I don’t know and neither do you. We just follow the temporary whim of society’s need to imitate inclusion.

Then again, the “N word,” which is now considered to be abominable, was derived from the romance languages. For in Latin, the word “black” is “niger.” In Spanish, it is “negra.” Perhaps that’s where they came up with the “N word.”

What is offensive is a condescending belief that we must defend people because we have decided they are incapable of speaking for themselves. Is that not truly the most prejudiced thing that we can possibly do?

So if you come to see me and you want to find out what difficulty I’m having with my legs, you can relax.

Because crippled, weakened, impaired, challenged, hobbled or blessed all sound basically the same to me.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Counterculture

Counterculture: (n) the culture and lifestyle of those people who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.

Take any thirty years.

Yes—look back in your history book and isolate off a thirty year period and you will realize that every group of people who was deemed to be “counterculture” was ignored for ten years, rejected for the next ten, but by the third decade had gained position, if not predominance.

It also holds true for our common values. Case in point:

Divorce used to be never spoken of—ignored, if you will. Then for a while it was rejected as unacceptable. And now, it’s not only a part of our society, but it is generally assumed that any human being over the age of thirty-five has divorced at least once.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

An obvious example is the gay community, which was at first ignored, then heavily rejected, and now appears deeply rooted in the fabric of our culture.

Yet there are two outstanding exceptions to this theory—black people and women.

Our American citizens who happen to have black skin seem to have stalled somewhere between rejection and inclusion.

And women continue to be bandied about as sexual objects instead of living, breathing sisters in our fight for sanity.

’Tis perplexing. It certainly gives some food for thought.

For when I was a young man, the war in Vietnam was a symbol of courage and American will to fight communism. Enter the counterculture of anti-war. Now, the Indochina conflict is basically a very dark joke.

I, for one, am going to be very careful to reject to anything as counterculture—because even the faith I hold dear, which proudly meets in churches every Sunday, was once condemned to be a counterculture, secretly fellowshipping in the tombs.


Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Chartreuse

Chartreuse: (n) a color between yellow and green

Tolerance is a good thing.

Acceptance–admirable.

Inclusion, divine.

There’s no doubt about it.

But by the same token, if you happen to be heterosexual, you don’t want to be gay. And I would assume those who are gay might be slightly offended at the notion
of being heterosexual.

Maybe it’s the remnants of prejudice–the ignorance of the masses being played out–but certain actions, choices, mannerisms and even speech patterns hint toward effeminacy.

We are still sensitive. Oh, we may march in the Gay Pride Parade, openly spouting that we don’t care if anyone thinks we’re part of the gang. But then–if someone actually does assume that we are of that persuasion, we are quick to whisper, “I’m just here to be supportive.”

With that in mind, I have been tempted from time to time to refer to something as “chartreuse.” The word nearly fell from my lips in a room filled with blue jeans, t-shirts and five o’clock shadows. Just in the nick of time, I pulled back and said, in my deepest basal tone, “You know. Kind of between yellow and green.”

In doing so, I removed any suspicion from the testosterone-driven gathering that I might be … well, gay.

You see, I don’t want to be gay. Honestly, I don’t like to think about being gay. I think it is possible to be tolerant without possessing total understanding of a situation.

So even though it may not be politically correct, I will tell you that I occasionally catch my hands on my hips and quickly remove them, am very careful at how I glance down at my fingernails, and certainly would not call a football jersey “chartreuse.”

 

Donate ButtonThank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

Cadre

Cadre: (n) a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession.

“I’ve gotta be me.”

It’s a sentiment I’ve never found particularly worthy of my attention. I’ve never been so certain of myself that I did not yearn to have the
fellowship and input of others.

I have found that the word “solo” is a great synonym for “alone.” I don’t like to be alone.

I don’t need other folks to make me feel valuable, or to surround me with a sense of inclusion. It’s just divinely remarkable to encounter individuals who share common anything with one another.

  • Common taste.
  • Common talent.
  • Common faith.
  • Common appetites.
  • Or even common foibles.

Human beings were never intended to be perfect and can be quite obnoxious when pursuing it. We’re at our best when we hang around with each other, admit our weaknesses and garner energy off the cadre of souls huddled in our corner.

When I have attempted to be autonomous, it was like I found myself standing naked in a room full of doctors. It was inevitable they would find something wrong with me.

Am I hiding? Perhaps.

Am I weak? Most certainly.

Am I benefitting from interaction with others?

Always.

 

Donate ButtonThank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

Apostasy

dictionary with letter A

Apostasy (n.): abandonment of a belief or principle.

Fascinating.

In actuality, I have abandoned many beliefs in order to embrace principles.

For when reality takes hold in your life, you realize that any notion of God which is not in synchronization with nature is superstition rather than truth.

And in like manner, any reverence for a natural order that does not in some way include a creative force is believing that life occurs in adulthood with no reverence for the birthing egg.

I guess in many ways I practice apostasy all the time–because I am equally as disillusioned with religion as I am with the secular world. I am perpetually unimpressed with the presence of a practice that ignores reason and the appearance of a reasonability that denies faith.

So on the occasions that I sit around with my brothers and sisters and listen to the common conversation proffered, I often find myself internally asking more questions than actually receiving enlightenment.

Many years ago I decided to abandon an agenda.

  • I am not a promoter of the Republican or the Democratic party.
  • I do not particularly find the Judeo-Christian form of governing spirituality to be edifying.
  • And I certainly cannot go along with the populist view that my family is “more special than anyone else in the world” simply because it was conjugated from my sperm.

Sooner or later what we call apostasy becomes a gentle move of common sense towards inclusion.

Often it’s just including good information.

Usually it involves including others without prejudice.

But honestly, mostly it includes the possibility that since knowledge has expanded, there is the chance that it will continue to do so.

Locking ourselves into a prison of platitudes is the best way to end up looking foolish to our grandchildren.

I guess I’m apostate–because I’m not satisfied with what I’ve discovered.

What I have uncovered has only made me hunger and thirst for more.

 

Donate Button

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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.


Alliance

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alliance: (n) a union or association formed for mutual benefit, esp. between countries or organizations. 2. a relationship based on an affinity in interests, nature or qualities

Sometimes I get a little worried about myself.

I’m not talking about being a hypochondriac or a conspiracy theory advocate. I just don’t trust systems. Let me rephrase that. Systems have not historically proven themselves to be worthy of my trust.

I think that’s accurate.

And as I look at the word “alliance” today, I realize that a sense of ill-will came into my soul over the whole notion of “uniting.”

It’s not that I believe in anarchy, it’s just that I don’t embrace the notion that the opposite of anarchy is a good thing. Here’s why.

If an alliance occurs because two human beings come together and freely admit that they plan on respecting or submitting to a truth which is greater than either of them, then I think there’s a possibility that such a union could be beneficial, if not holy.

Take marriage, for instance. In the simplicity of its composition, it is a  phenomenal institution–taking two human beings and asking them to commit to the idea of faithfulness and equality. Unfortunately, when implemented, it often deteriorates into less noble alliances, which are merely festering compromises of differing opinions.

Case in point: I don’t see any power in Henry Clay creating the Great Missouri Compromise in the mid-1800’s, which allowed for a temporary peace, but also tolerated the indignity of slavery.

Yes, I believe for an alliance to be of any significance, it must consist of two or more people recognizing a mutual need to acquiesce to an intelligence, a belief, a faith or a system greater than any opinion. When we hammer out back-room agreements, trying to maintain an elixir of varied opinions, we always end up with a hodge-podge of meaningless actions which must be quickly corrected due to their short-sightedness.

It’s why in my life I have come down to one simple principle: “No One is better than anyone else.”

Anything that tries to attack, disintegrate or deteriorate this axiom is not worthy of alliance. On the other hand, new ideas that salute the beauty of such a precious precept are not only welcome, but worthy of inclusion.

I am willing to join in alliance with those who recognize that our feeble opinions are always better when filtered through the sanity of the test of Spirit and Time.

All

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

All: (adj & pron.) referring to the whole quantity or extent of a particular group or thing

As a writer, it’s a word I don’t get to use very often–because putting it to work immediately conjures an image of inclusion without exception.

In other words: “all the people suck.”

You can imagine, there would be some objection to that sentiment.

Even if you trimmed it down to “most people suck,” you might be accused of being overwrought.

Some of the people suck” is more temperate, but still appears that you think all the people suck and you’re just playing it safe.

So most writers, to protect themselves from the marauding horde of critics, will use the preferable: “a few.”

Yes. A few people suck.

This enables the reader to escape the condemnation of being a sucker, and determine, in his or her own mind, who the rejected few might be.

But there are things I hope really will continue to be believed as applicable to all:

  • How about liberty and justice for all?
  • How about God loving all the world?
  • I like this one: All our possibilities are possible as long as we don’t deem them impossible.
  • All we have to do is love one another.
  • All human beings are equal.

So to me, “all” is a word of aspiration, faith and welcoming. And even though I am careful not to use it when I get in a gruff mood–to rain my verbal fire and brimstone down from my personal heavenly perch–I do greatly enjoy including all my brothers and sisters … when I know blessing is waiting around the bend.

 

Ajar

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

Ajar: (adj and adv) a door or other opening left slightly open

“Keep the door ajar.”

We all know what that means.

It’s our way of communicating that what is happening, beyond that which is inside the enclosure, is not private, segregated or secret.

It is also what we were told to do as teenagers when we were in a room with our girlfriend or boyfriend. It was a reminder that at any time, our seclusion could be interrupted by the inclusion of others.

I made a decision a long time ago to keep my life ajar. To think that any of us can get by with hiding our mistakes or foibles is a ridiculous notion. In an age of super-information available at super-speed, it is doubtful that privacy can be attained, so the only thing open to us is to select speed of revelation.

I’ve been silly about it in the past.

  • At one time I was embarrassed that I didn’t go to college, but began a family immediately due to my rising hormones, which preceded declining grades.
  • I used to be afraid to admit to others how unknown my efforts were and attempted to name-drop to procure respect, which only, in the long run, drew further attention to those mightier than me, whose names I was invoking.
  • I used to avoid questions by changing the subject or offering answers I thought were cleverly ambiguous, but actually just sounded evasive and stupid.

You can feel free to attempt to delude the public, keeping your door tightly shut, in hopes of avoiding interference from strangers. But as the Good Book says, there is nothing “whispered in the ear which is not eventually shouted from the housetops.” (By the way, a statement spoken by a fellow who didn’t even have to deal with the Internetor the NSA.)

So I can sum up my philosophy about “keeping my life ajar” in three quick statements:

  1. If I’m ashamed of it, change it enough to where the shame is gone.
  2. If I’m the first one to bring it up, nobody can act like they “got me.”
  3. Honesty is the best way to keep people off your back, because they relax and then you can actually be more like yourself.

Keep the door ajar. Pretty good philosophy.

Keep your life ajar. Genius.