Christmas Tree

Christmas tree: (n) a decorated tree at Yuletide

“If you want a tree, go get it yourself.”

That’s what my dad said when I was fourteen years old and asked him why we had not put up our tree as of yet, at Christmastime.

Normally the practice was to pick a tree and decorate it on my birthday–one week before Christmas. But for some reason, December 20th had rolled around and nobody had even mentioned getting one.

I was offended, disrupted, angry, bewildered, uncertain, out-of-spirits and generally and profoundly rebellious, in the most adolescent way possible.

So I complained. That’s what I knew how to do.

Since I had asked at least a half a dozen times about the tree, I felt it was time for me to object. he option provided for me by my dad was to go get a tree myself.

This was plausible because our family owned a little farm outside the town, where we grew some Christmas trees. So I had my brother drive me out to the location, grabbed a little hatchet and headed off through the snowy ground to bag myself an evergreen.

With my chubby legs and being severely out of shape, I was completely exhausted from the walk to the pines–ready to give up on my mission. After all, it wasn’t my fault. I was not in charge. If the damn family didn’t want a tree, then we should be treeless.

But the problem was, that included me–and I didn’t want to be treeless.

So braving the cold, little hatchet in hand, I found what I thought would be a good tree and began to whack at the trunk.

My hatchet had obviously been purchased by Davy Crockett when he went to the Alamo and not sharpened since. The first three strikes at the tree trunk didn’t even split the bark. So as not to bore you, I will shorten this story by telling you that an hour later, sweat pouring off my face, I finally got the tree to give up its roots and prepare to move to my home.

The trunk was an absolute mess. It was not a cut, but rather a massacre. But I drug it out, my brother and I put it on top of the car, and we drove it to the house. He kindly helped me saw the bottom off to make it even so we could put it into the Christmas tree stand. To add insult to my effort, it ended up being too tall. We had to cut off part of the top.

But eventually it sat in our living room, waiting to be adorned.

That evening when my father returned from working at his loan company, he stepped into the house, looked at the tree, and said to me, “Is that the best tree you could get?”

I didn’t respond to him directly, but in my mind I thought, “Yes. It’s the best tree I could get. Because this year it’s my tree.”

 

 

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Bayonet

Bayonet: (n) a swordlike stabbing blade that may be fixed to the muzzle of a rifleDictionary B

The healthiest gift to the human race is to constantly portray war in the most hellish terms possible.

When we forget that war is hell, we start looking for noble purposes for slaying our brothers and sisters. Sometimes it takes as much as twenty years of passing the peace for us to get thirsty once again for blood-soaked uniforms.

To me, this is the message of the bayonet.

When you talk about bombs, drone strikes or even bullets, you can literally distance yourself from the atrocity of tearing into the flesh of a human being like you’re a wild beast, dislodging entrails.

After all, that is the visual on a battlefield.

People don’t die easily–they must be killed. They must be torn from their vital organs. They are disemboweled.

When I imagine war and I see bombs dropping from airplanes, I have no awareness of such macabre dismemberment.

And when I see bullets flying from the air with bugles blaring the charge of the light infantry, I’m not imagining the decapitation and destruction of human flesh.

But a bayonet is a personal murdering weapon for the soldier who thinks he has found his fortune by being considered patriotic through massacre.

A bayonet must be inserted–twisted–until the blood flows freely, seeping life from the soul you have deemed your enemy.

So in a truly bizarre way, let me salute the bayonet.

It reminds us that war is killing.

It concludes that war is hell.

 

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Apartheid

dictionary with letter A

Apartheid: (n) in South Africa, a policy and system of segregation or discrimination based on the grounds of race.

If you’re an American citizen, you had little to no chance of having an understanding of Apartheid unless you allowed yourself the blessing of reading up on it and discovering all the subtleties.

In the 1980’s, when the issue was inflamed with turmoil, the communique in our country was to stay out of it or to side with the South African government by offering some sort of lame excuse for the existence of such prejudice.

Matter of fact, there were religious leaders in this country who insisted that Apartheid was necessary because without it, the natives (who just happened to be black) would tear one another apart because of their tribal conflicts. There were actually people who accepted this reasoning as being reasonable.

It is similar to those in the North and South during the Civil War, who feared that freeing the slaves would unleash an unholy terror of massacre and mayhem on the white population.

Matter of fact, throughout history we have decided to keep a bad system in place rather than risk bettering it. Of course, every time we’ve done this, the proponents of such foolishness have ended up looking like idiots–as those religious leaders of the 1980’s do today with regard to Apartheid.

I do not really care what tenets of philosophy and religion you adhere to, as long as you will agree with me that even though progress often takes time, the energy of the universe is always moving towards freedom.

There are countries in the world today which subjugate their population and terrorize their brothers and sisters with all sorts of rules and regulations, which will soon be as extinct as the dinosaurs and viewed by history as oppressive lunacy.

You can’t take freedom away from people without being viewed a tyrant.

So when I heard about Apartheid in the 1980’s and listened to both sides of the issue, I realized that it is a God-given right (of course, by God) for people to be as foolish or intelligent as they want to be, as long as they are free to do so.

We cannot control the actions of human beings. What we can do is provide the liberty, without question, for them to play out their philosophy quickly.

Anything written on paper that proclaims a truth will surely need to be amended … by the spirit of liberty.

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Andersonville

dictionary with letter A

Andersonville: (n) a village in southwestern Georgia that was the site of a large and infamous Confederate prison camp during the Civil War.

The Civil War was our holocaust.

Actually, little will be achieved in this country until we universally accept this statement as true.

The Civil War is when we took a race of people, segregated them, mistreated them and then ended up fighting a war which included in its pursuits the decision to continue that same practice indiscriminately.

We murdered, created new weapons to increase the casualties and took brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and placed them at odds with each other, continually making a “Sophie’s Choice” within the boundaries of households.

  • It was horrific.
  • It was unnecessary.
  • It was short-sighted.

And when you add in the treatment given to fellow-Americans as prisoners of war–on both sides–you have almost an identical parallel to many of the atrocities that were perpetuated in Nazi Germany.

It is our humiliation.

It is a war we should study because we need to make sure that in our present dealings, that none of the ignorance that brought about the massacre and slaughter can be welcomed again.

We need to put away all the trumpets, banners and paraphernalia from that conflict into a trunk and bury it in the ground with a ceremony of repentance.

There is nothing from that period of time that is worthy of our praise, let alone our consideration.

I admire the German people because they look on the horror of their own recent history and refuse to repeat it–by making sure the only reference to it is an apology.

To live in a country that still refers to “Yankees and “Rebs,” “North and South,” “Union and Confederate” with a sense of regional pride is an abomination to our belief in all men being created equal.

The Andersonville prison was a location where the anger, frustration and evil that had been perpetuated for three centuries was brought to bear and turned into a living hell.

But the Civil War was not noble.

It was not good.

It was not brave.

It is our holocaust–and because it is, we should reverence those who suffered and pledge to never repeat such foolish iniquity again.

 

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