Dakota

Dakota: (n) a former territory in the United States—in 1889 divided into North Dakota and South Dakota.

I spent nine days in the Dakotas.

I only did it once.

Please don’t misunderstand—my singular visit does not portray my feeling about the region.

I just don’t think anybody there liked me.

I’m sure that’s not true—it isn’t like I saw them head over heels in enthusiasm, dancing in the street about anything.

My grandpa would have said they were “sturdy people.”

You’d have to be. Lots of storms. Regularly over a hundred degrees in the summer and below zero in the winter months.

A rural atmosphere.

Close-knit groups, many well aware of each other or even related.

So about five days into my visit, I became a bit paranoid about the treatment I was receiving. I asked one of the sponsors who brought me in for the concert series what was up with the populace.

Interestingly enough, he didn’t say, “Well, what do you mean?” Or, “They seem fine to me.”

Instead, he replied, “To be honest, these people have been alone, abandoned, unnoticed and even made fun of so often that they can’t imagine why anybody from the outside world would choose to come into their area unless that person was an escaped convict or a fraud.”

I crinkled my brow and replied, “So what you’re saying is, they think I’m trouble because I came to their state.”

“They figure if people had a choice, they would never visit.”

He nodded his head.

So I went to my concert that night and tried to address this dilemma with the audience. I would like to report that my dialogue made all the difference in the world.

But it didn’t.

They seemed to resent the fact that I was aware of their insecurity and preferred me to shut up, get back into my van, and travel on to more appreciative places.

Still and all, I managed to learn a lot about Mount Rushmore, and also the Battle of the Little Bighorn, with General Custer, which happened right over the border in Wyoming. Matter of fact, I took a couple of hours and read up on both things so I would seem knowledgeable.

It did increase my conversations by a few more sentences. But then they froze up and once again nervously stared at me.

If I may draw a conclusion:

Perhaps one of the worst things we do to people is make them feel “less” because we don’t think they live where there’s “more.”

What I uncovered in my journey to the Dakotas was this:

There are children born—therefore there are people having sex.

There are radio stations—so music does penetrate the silence.

And the grocery store was filled with all sorts of meat, from cow to bear to rattlesnake. So someone likes to hunt and eat.

You see?

If you work at it, you can find things you have in common with almost anyone, anywhere.

(Pass the steak sauce.)

Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain: (n) a series of interconnected or related things or events

 Bigotry doesn’t appear just because human beings are placed on the same planet together.

We don’t naturally hate each other.

Bigotry, intolerance and emotional mayhem are the conclusion of a daisy chain of unfortunate connections.

Since we know where this ends up—a random hatred—how does it begin?

What are the links that lead us to acting like the Missing Link?

When do we lose all our humanity and turn animal, emulating our jungle roots?

There is an unholy six.

When placed side-by-side and linked with false premises, these six generate the kind of treachery that assumes a national need to kill six million Jews or to steal the land of the native population.

It begins with insecurity.

Insecurity is a nasty itch inside us, making us believe we cannot be heralded for our good deeds if others are also being appreciated.

Insecurity loves to link up with jealousy.

Jealousy is foolish because it limits the value of what we do and overestimates the success of those around us.

After insecurity links with jealousy, then jealousy welcomes gossip.

Seemingly, the most civil way to destroy our competition is to verbally discredit them by making all seem abnormal.

When gossip has fully spewed into the atmosphere, it finds a settling place in allegiance.

The allegiance can be religious to God, patriotic to a country, political to a party, or even an exaggerated devotion to one’s family.

After allegiance has been established (on shaky ground) it embraces paranoia.

Paranoia compel us to commit irrational acts, forewarning of treacherous deeds.

We are looking for the villain behind every plot and the enemy around the corner.

Once we are fully paranoid, it is a simple step to allow our bigotry to control every decision.

This daisy chain is strewn throughout history.

But rather than allowing the historians to be the prophets who frighten us away from such foolishness and encourage us to gain security without hurting others, we continue to take all the timidity in our fearful souls and set the daisy chain of destruction in motion.

Correspond

Correspond: (v) to communicate by exchange of letters

Dear You:

This is me.

I am writing you for many reasons.

Well, that’s not true.

The main reason I’m writing you is that I don’t want you to ignore me.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Each one of us is so busy that we soon will forget people we know unless we purposely correspond with them. We may protest and say that’s impossible, but certainly, “out of sight, out of mind.”

Pretty soon, who knows? In a moment of feeble-mindedness, you might actually fail to recall my name.

I don’t want you to do that.

I’m too important to me for you to forget me. Do you follow that?

And I hope you are too important to you to have me forget you.

This is why we contact one another. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s done through a letter, an email or a text—just as long as I know that you know that I am here and you are aware.

Yes, all forms of communication, at their root, are insecurity speaking out.

After all, how much time would we spend thinking about God if there were no Bible? And how much Bible would we read if there were no church? And how many churches would have people in attendance if they weren’t going there to meet up with people they hope wouldn’t forget them?

We can either deny selfishness, or we can use it to help us understand the selfishness that exists in others. Once we forgive ourselves for selfishness, we might have a bit of leniency left over to forgive one another.

I correspond because I do not want to be forgotten. In the process I am able to communicate to you that you are well-thought-of and treasured.

How can this system be wrong?

How can this be anything other than the definition of the selfishness of humanity put into good practice?

Dear You,

This is me.

May we never forget us.


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Clout

Clout: (n) influence or power

Liars talk too much.

It’s one of the sure ways to pick ’em out. Rather than just stating the facts or presenting the situation, they feel the need to emphasize some
aspect of their story to further impress you with its validity.

That’s always been my problem with the word “clout.”

How much more reinforcement is necessary for a good idea?

How many times do we need to recite our accomplishments before we understand that nobody cares?

How often will we find ourselves stumbling over words because we are not yet convinced that the room has been swayed by our argument?

Does a nation have clout because it has a big army? (Candidly, the nations which have had big armies throughout history are no longer around.)

Do a people have credence because of their faith in God or their morality? If that were the case, the Puritans would still be very popular instead of deemed assholes for killing little girls as witches.

Does a woman gain clout by convincing everybody that she’s just as good as a man, when being a man may not be good enough?

How many characters do we need to introduce to develop the plot?

How many promises should be secured before we decide to move out and attempt a noble deed?

When I was in my thirties, a very prosperous music producer told me that I had no future because I didn’t carry enough clout. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I decided a long time ago not to carry anything I didn’t need.”

We don’t need clout. Actually, it warns of insecurity, pomposity and arrogance.

If I believe I am the best at anything, I need to leave my house more often.

If I think that God favors me because of my numerous religious inclinations, it may be necessary for me to encounter those human beings who scrape together fifty cents, knowing they need sixty cents to survive.

If you want to legitimize the word “clout,” then here is a better definition:

Clout is when I have the humility to realize I don’t really matter, so if I want to keep from being invisible, I should open up my heart and do what I can for the human race.

 

 

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Chauvinism

Chauvinism: (n) prejudiced loyalty or support for one’s own cause, group, or gender.

Chauvinism is an actual condition when the insecurity of one group of people forces them to usurp their authority by using domination.

It is not a “safe word” that women can use when they’ve lost an argument and want to change the subject to make it seem that they are being
attacked by some sort of Neanderthal.

Chauvinism is an actual predicament.

It is not a return to the past, but instead, a maintaining of the worst. For after all, there are many things from the past that we’ve abandoned just to make sure we don’t die.

For instance, it used to be avant garde to smoke cigarettes, and now it’s limited to Hollywood bad guys and white trash.

We do have the common sense to reject certain things of the past, like smallpox, measles and even the flu, which used to kill off thousands.

So the contention that we want to return to the “good old days” means that we want to go back to days that were not that good and nobody was really allowed to get old.

So what is chauvinism?

It is anyone who believes he or she is exceptional for any reason whatsoever. If you happen to be exceptional in some field, just do your work and let other people proclaim your excellence.

If you find yourself tooting your own horn, be prepared for folks to find you brassy.

There’s a danger even when referring to America as an “exceptional nation”–for the things that make us exceptional have absolutely nothing to do with the populace. They are the freedoms we purposely grant to those who are not always exceptional.

I must come back to my standard mantra: no one is better than anyone else.

You don’t achieve much by trying to contradict it, and the pursuit of believing it grants you the purity of heart to actually see God in the world around you.

 

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Beefcake

Beefcake: (n) an attractive man with well-developed muscles.Dictionary B

On those rare occasions when I find myself naked, I always avert my eyes from looking in the mirror.

Matter of fact, I’m a little reluctant to share that thought, because there are individuals who would consider my decision to not view my body as a negative or a sign of insecurity.

Honestly, I just find it smart.

There are only two things that can happen when you look in the mirror: some form of disgust, or an intruding pride.

In both cases, there is little benefit.

If I think I’m ugly, confirming that by my reflection is not helpful to the self-confidence required for me to survive a normal day.

Then again, if I peer into the mirror and believe myself to be beautiful–a beefcake–then an obnoxious pride will make me ill-suited to interact with those who may not completely agree with my assessment.

I also have known many women over the years, and will tell you that they are the most gentle, forgiving and open-minded beings on Earth concerning the physical weaknesses of the men who have come into their space. I suppose there are ladies who want to peer at men’s bodies with a lascivious leer, but women often close their eyes, allowing their imaginations to fill in the blanks to stimulate adequate lust for a great sexual encounter.

I am not a beefcake.

I am not willing to do what is necessary to become a beefcake.

So I am looking for friends and women … who have a sweet tooth for a cream puff.

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Aquiline

dictionary with letter A

Aquiline: (adj) like an eagle, esp. referring to the nose. EX: “hooked like an eagle’s beak.”

It arrives at about age twelve, and hopefully, by the grace of God, disappears on one’s eighteenth birthday. Honestly, it will not disappear if we allow its friends to come and shack up.

“It” is insecurity.

When I was twelve years old, I was convinced of the following:

I believed my nose was aquiline because my dad was German and had a hooked nose. I failed to realize that my mother’s genes were also in there, so my hook was not as pronounced. (I once referred to my nose as a “hooker” until my Aunt Minnie explained that the term was inappropriate.)

I also believed that my lips were very large and that I possibly was the love child of my mother with a black man. (There was no basis for this since there were no black people within thirty miles of our community. But I chose to believe my mother had made some sort of journey.)

I also thought my eyes were crooked, and began to tilt my head to the left to compensate for the poor horizon of my peepers.

Keeping up this craziness was the notion that my B were “pinned to my head,” which I assumed was the sign of some sort of mental retardation.

Moving along, I totally was possessed with the frustration that I had horribly chubby cheeks, so I tried to elongate my face by holding my mouth in the shape of a small “O” all the time.

This insecurity is present in all adolescents, and is only dangerous if it’s allowed to link up with intensity, culminating in a bit of insanity, which in adulthood can lead to plastic surgery, therapy sessions and late-night heart-wrenching honesty with your mate, drenched in tears.

I know we think the answer to this question is to convince people that “we are all beautiful just the way we are.”

But since none of us really believe that deep in our hearts, wouldn’t it be more logical for us to come to the conclusion that we’re all ugly in our own way?

 

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Apogee

dictionary with letter A

Apogee (n.) 1. The point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is furthest from the earth. 2. The highest point: (e.g.: his creative activity reached its apogee in 1910.)

We live our lives looking through binoculars, unaware that history will view us under a microscope.

We keep hoping that something will come along and stimulate our sensibilities and promote our ideas to greater influence and gain. The flaw of all humanity is the notion that we deserve a break, so we will sit here and wait for it.

Yet history will peer back on our deeds and reflect on where we messed up our GPS, missed a U-turn or put the brakes on.

So therefore, we can all become guilty of claiming our apogee long before we have actually achieved our highest point.

Life is a mysterious collision of confidence and insecurity.

Confidence says, “Given the opportunity, I can do this.” But it must be accompanied by a mistrust that such an advantage will come our way without us hustling for it.

When I study greatness, I find two components. People who achieve their goals do the following:

  1. Work on their gifts until they are prepared for the moment.
  2. Create the moment.

I am not a believer in destiny. I am certain that the acquisition of my dreams will be executed by the energy of my effort.

What will be my apogee? I am not there yet.

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Antithesis

dictionary with letter A

Antithesis: (n) something or someone who is the direct opposite of something or someone else. i.e. Selfishiness is the antithesis of love.

It’s all about the word “as.”

Even though I may be criticized for arguing with Webster’s Dictionary, since it is considered to be the ultimate authority on wording and meaning, I must tell you that calling selfishness the antithesis of love is a bit old-fashioned, uninspired and lacks practical application.

Sometimes we just say stuff because we think it sounds noble. Things like, “selfishness is the antithesis of love.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I suppose if people were diagramming that sentence or looking for focus words they would choose love, neighbor or yourself, but actually, the key word is “as.” For after all, we actually do love other people in complete proportion to how we view and embrace “us.”

  • If we are plagued by too much insecurity, we tend to be suspicious of others.
  • If we’re too boastful and self-indulgent, we make the dangerous assumption that other people are the same as us, so we end up suspicious.

What truly is the antithesis of love is fear–and the worst fear in the world is to be afraid to honestly accept who we are.

Until fear is addressed, love is a theory.

Until anxiety is ministered to, we will have a tendency to fret and fume, allowing opportunity to slip away.

So if you take the big three–faith, hope and love–and look for the antithesis to each, I believe you will end up with a trio of human “nasties” which plague us all.

For I would say the antithesis of faith is presumption–people who assume that everything will be taken care of because they are special.

And the antithesis of hope is lying. Yes, nothing is more frustrating to our hope than when we are lied to by those who feel they can manipulate us.

And as I have already said, I believe the antithesis of love is fear.

What would happen if we just took one week of our lives and addressed the presumption, lying and fear which haunt our efforts, and reveal them for the charlatans they truly are?

At the very least … we might just begin to believe in faith, hope and love again.

 

 

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Aggravate

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAggravate: (v) 1. to make a problem injury, offense or situation worse 2. to annoy or exasperate

It takes two sticks rubbed together to create a fire.

At least, that’s what I hear. Having never actually used that method to generate the friction, I’m not certain it’s true, but I have no reason to question it.

I do get aggravated. When I calm myself down and think about what caused my aggravation, I realize it’s always one stick that I brought and another stick brought by somebody else.

The main stick I bring to create aggravation is always insecurity. It would be difficult for me to notice when I was being mistreated unless there’s a part of me that’s looking for it.

The people who aggravate me are individuals who bring their own insecurity my direction, and I begin to rub my stick of inferiority against them, resulting in fiery disagreement.

Why am I insecure? Here are three reasons:

1. I need too much. I have plenty, but rather than reveling in my abundance, I look over the shoulder of my benefactor to see if there’s more coming. What an idiot.

2. Part of me is not happy unless others have less. It hurts me to even write these words down–but there is a childish little boy inside me, who sometimes hopes that I end up with one more than my friends.

3. I believe in a God I don’t always trust. My prayers of politeness are not stimulated from my soul of belief. I am not always convinced that my “Father which art in Heaven” is willing to get off His throne and come to my house.

You put these three together and you have a stick up your rear that’s ready to be rubbed against somebody else’s inconsistency to create aggravation. And aggravation is the siphon that sucks all the fuel and potential out of human talent.

How can I stop feeling insecure? There is an old hymn which affords us an answer:

Count your blessings                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Name them one by one…”

Every time I do this, I am nearly embarrassed by the bounty provided for me–by God, life, my friends and my own abilities. It chases away my insecurity.

At that point, it is very difficult for me to become aggravated because I have no stick to rub.

May I remind myself of this today … and begin the count.