Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone: (N) 1734–1820, an American pioneer, especially in Kentucky.

There’s a lot of things that can be said about Daniel Boone.

Like many historical figures, I don’t know if any of us would be comfortable sitting down and having a conversation with him, nor trying to adjust to his particular interpretation of hygiene.

It is a blessed realty that we are better off enjoying the deeds of our forefathers instead of actually having to put up with their attitudes.

But there are several things I like about Daniel Boone.

When he was floatin’ around, the frontier didn’t go any further than Kentucky. Beyond that was considered Indian country—and therefore, no need to cause trouble, since there was good land right under his feet.

I like that about him.

Something I could learn from Mr. Boone:

Stop complaining about where I am, thinking that a change of residence would do me better.

The second thing about old Daniel was that he shot, gathered and ate what was available to him.

I understand that a healthy diet is important, but sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the things we want to eat are not immediately accessible.

So if Daniel came across a bunch of rabbits, he was suddenly a great fan of bunny.

A whole bushel of wild blackberries could temporarily turn him into a vegetarian.

And he grew what the ground would allow.

The final thing about Daniel Boone that touches my heart is that he was encompassed by Native Americans—who were there long before he was. History tells us that Daniel chose to get along with them instead of trying to kill ’em all off. Matter of fact, he made friends with some of them. The natives became his buddies. They respected his frontier ability and were grateful that of the white people they had encountered, he seemed to be least offensive.

Many of the white men who joined him in Boonsboro married up with the Native Americans and didn’t feel they were slumming at all.

Now there’s three things I can learn:

  • Enjoy where you are and at least pretend it’s where you want to be.
  • Eat what’s available to you.
  • And get along with the people and creatures who are your neighbors.

I will guarantee you—if you do this, just like Old Daniel Boone, you can make the history books.

Custer’s Last Stand

Custer’s Last Stand: The defeat of Colonel George A. Custer and his cavalry detachment by a large force of Native Americans at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

It was Franklin Roosevelt who changed the game.

Since FDR, our Presidents have more or less taken on the appearance of being the CEO for a large corporation. Now granted, we’ve had some rotten pickles in the barrel.

But generally speaking, the job of President of the United States changed as of Franklin Roosevelt—because he found himself in a situation where for the second time, like the Civil War, our country was on the verge of collapse—this time by poverty.

Stability was needed.

A bit of tenderness.

And certainly a vision for all the people.

I share this with you because before President Roosevelt, the men who served in the executive office were a rag-tag mixture of renegades, scoundrels, bookworms and inefficient scholars.

Into such an atmosphere arrived a young gent named George Armstrong Custer.

He came in a season when being overbearing, irreverent and unable to take orders was helpful. We were in the middle of a war and the country was desperately in need of heroes to step out of the shadows and defeat the Confederacy.

Born in Monroe, Michigan, General Custer was a study in flamboyance and narcissism.

Known for his bravery—which by the end of his life had exposed itself as foolhardiness—he rose to the rank of General, where he believed that from his military might, he could easily run for President and win.

His disregard for the Native Americans was certainly bigoted, if not fringing on genocidal.

But because George Armstrong Custer was unable to listen to anyone else’s counsel or follow any advice but his own, he eventually ran up against a battle which was far beyond his control.

He was soundly defeated and killed when many tribes united at the Little Big Horn under the spiritual guidance of Sitting Bull and the field command of Crazy Horse.

There is only one thing you can learn from General Custer:

Believing you can do something may be considered a virtue, but it rarely, by itself, will take you to the finish line—unless by finish line, you mean you’re finished.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crux

Crux: (n) a vital or decisive element (often in the phrase “the crux of the matter”)

Tossed off as a comment by a pundit on any one of a hundred new shows:

“This needs to be taken care of. It is the crux of the matter.”

I don’t know whether the word “crux” is a current one or not. Sometimes I am sympathetic to the younger generation’s unwillingness to adopt language from the past. Other times I want to scream at them to buy a history book or a dictionary.

But I, for one, am very careful about using the word.

Crux is one of those odd terms that is lifted directly from the Latin and placed into our lingo.

In Latin, the word “crux” means cross. And cross is normally associated with one situation and a single individual. It was the form of execution used by the Romans at the behest of the Jewish Council, to kill off Jesus of Nazareth.

So even though the young Nazarene spent his life healing, loving, challenging, organizing and believing, he has become known for the “crux (cross) of his matter.”

A man of peace reflected upon as a criminal hanging on a tree.

So as I look at the climate of our society today—considering the crux of the matter—I wonder what our cross is. What will we be known for?

We certainly want to be recognized for our skill in changing the oil in our car or our delicious recipe for the potato salad we bring to the family reunion each year.

But do we get to choose?

Would Jesus of Nazareth actually have chosen a cross as a symbol of his life?

The crux of America is three-fold:

  1. We allowed slavery to exist for 350 years and bigotry for another century and a half.
  2. We stole our country from the Native Americans, who didn’t own it either, but certainly had squatter’s rights.

And finally:

  1. What will be the crux of our matter going forward? Will it be world domination or the inability to manage our own affairs with grace and aplomb, stumbling our way off the historical stage?

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Council of War

Council of war: (n) any conference for discussing or deciding upon a course of action.

I don’t think we’ve ever come up with an adequate term to identify the tribes that inhabited the North American continent before the arrival of the European immigrants (of whom many were rapists, and I’m sure some of them were good…)funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Because of this, we have a huge chunk of history which is really nothing more than mystery. I hope you will agree with me that when history remains mystery, we are destined to fall under the spell of its mastery.

Why?

Because we don’t know any more than when we started, even though we have lots of information that’s available, our interest level is stunted.

So we call these tribes “Native Americans,” “Indians,” and of course, in the early days, just savages. It was easier to kill them off in large numbers when you considered them to be rogue beasts.

But from my limited well of understanding, I will tell you that these human beings who were here long before us, would hold their council of war while smoking a peace pipe. Yes—they would pass around some sort of early bong filled with God-knows-what, puff on it and chat before they decided to grab their clubs, tomahawks, or even guns, and traipse off, murdering.

I don’t know how many wars they may have avoided by becoming a bit more rosy in their thinking during one of these interludes of puffing.

But I wonder whether their white—and even tan, yellow and black—brothers and sisters might be better off holding their councils of war in a haze of cigar smoke, or even the whiff of magical plants, before making such a drastic decision—to throw down in conflict with other people, and purposely deplete the population in order to prove that your domain of the Earth is mightier?


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Corsica

Corsica: (n) an island in the Mediterranean, Southeast of France.

I don’t know a lot about Corsica.

I am not going to insult you by looking up a few details and making it seem as if I’ve done an exhaustive study. After all, the purpose of these funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
essays is to give you my immediate, often ignorant, and sometimes humorous take on the words of the dictionary as they stumble out in order.

I know one thing about Corsica—it’s the birthplace of Napoleon.

I don’t know whether Corsica would advertise this. Napoleon is an enigma. If you study him as a general, a leader, or even as a French Emperor, he may be considered one of those overly zealous tyrants who come along every once in a while to shake things up and let us know that we need to be on the lookout for “rampagers.”

But in many ways, Napoleon Bonaparte was an Adolf Hitler without the compulsion to kill off Hebrews. He took advantage of the French Revolution, leaving the Francos trying to imitate the Americans, and ending up with a “spaghetti mess.”

He stepped in, established his authority, claimed himself to be the leader of the Holy Roman Empire incarnate and even took the crown from the hands of the priest who was trying to coronate him, and placed it upon his own head.

Thousands and thousands of people from Africa, to Asia and all across Europe were killed because of this man’s desire to conquer.

So intent was he on paying for his wars and ongoing struggle with the English, that he ended up selling the United States—from the Mississippi River all the way west to the Pacific Ocean, in a deal dubbed “the Louisiana Purchase.”

He sold it for pennies, even though it was not his land, and it belonged to countless tribes of Native Americans, who were not privy to the deal and received no remuneration.

But that was Napoleon.

I do believe, even though the average Corsican is probably willing to claim Napoleon as a son of their land, that the smart ones have discovered not to follow in his violent manner.


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Bison

Bison: (n) a humpbacked shaggy-haired wild ox

Dictionary BWhile driving through Wyoming, I saw a bison standing along the side of the freeway, not more than fifty yards away.

A buffalo.

It was such a strange sensation.

I had seen many pictures of the bison, but to suddenly be in such close proximity with its three-dimensional form translated me back to a time when America was young, settlers were traveling across the prairie in Conestoga wagons, and the Native Americans were struggling to maintain their integrity without becoming belligerent.

These bisons were everywhere. They were sustenance.

I had a sweeping awareness that came over my soul, realizing how hard it was to live when the bison roamed the Earth at will.

Nowadays, we have an interesting dilemma in America: we want to feed the horse, but no one wants to shovel the shit.

Matter of fact, sometimes we try to stop feeding the horse so there’s not as much shit. Or we let the shit fall where it may, insisting it’s just reality.

But on this Memorial Day, what really impresses me about those who have gone before us and have given their lives to a cause is that they completely comprehended that feeding the horse does produce shit that needs to be shoveled.

In other words, for every bison you kill, there’s one less bison.

And for every human being you hurt, there’s one new enemy.

Likewise, for every war you start, there’s a few less sons and daughters who will grow up and live full lives.

And finally, for every prejudice you express, there’s an anger that will come back your way from those who have been oppressed.

Sometimes it’s just good to drive along the freeway, see a bison and appreciate the beauty of life–because the truth of the matter is, all matter demands truth.

And truth comes with a balance of feeding the horse and shoveling the shit

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Apaches

dictionary with letter A

Apaches:(n) members of an American Indian people living primarily in New Mexico and Arizona. The Apaches put up fierce resistance to the European settlers and, under the leadership of Geronimo, were the last American Indian people to be conquered.

Sometimes I choose silence because speaking is such a minefield of “lip-slip-bombs.” It is difficult in this present age to know what to say or even what to call things without offending someone.

This is quite apparent with those original citizens who occupied the North American continent before the European settlers invaded.

(You see how carefully I worded that? Of course, I probably offended the Europeans, who would insist they “settled,” not “invaded.” Once again, you can’t win.)

But concerning these individuals, in my lifetime I have heard them called Indians, American Indians, tribal nations and Native Americans.

Even though I want to be as gentle as possible with the feelings of others, I think what we call them is not nearly as important as how we treated them, and how the treatment continues today with a sense of antipathy.

Yes, I think the American consciousness occasionally needs to be pricked by our approach to those who were here when we arrived and those we brought over from Africa to tend our fields.

We have two groups of people who have a vicious history with the white class, who continue to suffer under varying degrees of subjugation and prejudice to this day.

So I don’t know what you want to call them, and I don’t know whether it makes a difference if the Washington football team is called the Redskins or not. I think the true problem is does not lie in calling “Indians” and “Negroes,” or “African-Americans” and “Native Americans,” but rather, when you finish addressing them, the determining factor of your quality of life is in how you grant them equal quality.

  • What did the white man bring to the Apache nation? Disease, guns and whiskey.
  • What did the white man bring to the African? Slavery, punishment and the ghetto.

So I think it’s a bit pretentious to believe that simply because we choose the correct verbiage for greeting them that we’ve bridged the gap.

Actually, I would much rather call them Indians and Negroes, but love them as my brothers and sisters as opposed to referring to them by the popular lingo of the day … and sequester them in lack.

 

 

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Anthony, Susan B.

dictionary with letter A

Anthony, Susan B. : U.S. social reformer and leader of the woman suffragette movement.

It puts a chill down my spine.

Often I just think about who I would be, what I would do and where I would place myself in the thinking of a particular era, when some miscarriage of justice was all the rage.

Would I have had the courage to sign the Declaration of Independence, or would I be a loyal Tory to King George?

Would I have treated the Native Americans with respect, honoring their lands, or just rolled over the prairie in my Conestoga wagon, assuming that God was my co-pilot?

What would have been my stance on slavery?

And certainly, as I read the name Susan B. Anthony, I am curious if I would have seen the wisdom, practicality and right for women to be participating citizens with the vote, or if my fear of rocking the boat would have caused me to surrender to the social doldrums.

I think about it a lot, because other things come up every day which are the fresh, new subject lines for the story of history–whether it’s abortion, nation building, gay rights, legalized marijuana, immigration or any number of conflicts which “boil, boil, toil and trouble” in our society.

  • Where are the parallels?
  • Where are the similarities?
  • Where are the differences?

Because even though some causes appear to have a righteous basis, like Prohibition, when they’re placed within the context of a democratic society, they end up being miserable failures.

Would I have marched with Ms. Anthony to lobby for women to have their natural authority to cast a ballot?

I like to think about this.

I don’t ever want to become comfortable in my beliefs and convictions simply because they have paid rent inside of me for a long time. I am prepared to evict all tenets which fail to prove their solvency.

Would I fight for women? The only way to be sure of that is to place myself on the battlefield today, as my sisters continue to struggle to gain equal footing in a society which is much too dominated by macho ruffians. 

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