Chariot

Chariot: (n) a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient warfare and racing.

“Negro spiritual. “

It’s not exactly an oxymoron, but within the two words there seems to be a contradiction of purpose.

After all, if you were a Negro, you might find it difficult to be spiritual to those who decided to know you only by that term.

Yet a race of people who were beaten, subjugated, raped and sometimes nearly starved managed to get around a fire late at night when their persecutors had retired to the Big House, and come up with songs which we now display in our religious catalogues today.

  • “Let My People Go”
  • “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
  • And of course, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Even though the songs are melodic, harmonic and perhaps even rhythmic, they all carry a central theme: “Dear God, I hope they stop beating me and if they won’t, I hope you kill me soon.”

You can be sympathetic to their plight.

“Swing low, sweet chariot,

Comin’ for to carry me home…”

A pretty simple passage: “Since there’s no solution here on Earth, since the Massa has the whip and since my family can be sold at a moment’s notice, maybe it would be wise to begin Eternity really soon.”

Negro spiritual–a music that tells us where people find solace when other humans abandon and mistreat them.

It is soulful, it is seeking and it is sad.

I can’t listen to the song about the chariot without realizing that my ancestors made the singer want to die.

 

 

 

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By-stander

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By-stander:(n) a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part

Most people know what an oxymoron is. It’s a statement or collection of words that seem to contradict one another–case in point, jumbo shrimp.

That being said, I will tell you the little known oxymorons is the pairing of the two words “innocent by-stander.”

Although I admit meteorites do fall from the sky and hit people in the head, most of the time there’s a warning and an opportunity before a conclusion.

The warning can be subtle. Sometimes you need to tune your ears to Mother Nature in order to heed the precaution. Even though we consider people who focus on warnings to be paranoid, they rarely find themselves categorized as “innocent by-standers.”

After the warning, there’s usually some sort of opportunity:

  • A chance to say something.
  • A door to do something.
  • A way of escape–a few seconds where thinking can be clarified.

Shortly after that opportunity comes a conclusion. It is random and always certain. It doesn’t care about our status–it just follows through on the warning.

An example:

Driving in Seattle, Washington one summer, I was returning from a recording session when I looked ahead–almost a quarter of a mile–and saw a back-up of traffic. But worse, smoke was beginning to rise in small puffs, letting me know that collisions were going on between cars.

I had a very brief opportunity to avoid being part of a huge freeway pile-up. My brakes were not going to be useful–the person behind would just plow into me.

So as I saw the chain reaction developing in front of me, I moved onto the berm and traveled on it for about a mile, as cars continued to pummel one another in the calamity.

It was very close, but I was able to get in front of the origin of the collision. There was no traffic and I was on my way.

Do I think I’m a genius? No.

Have I always been so observant? No.

But when I haven’t, the problems have piled up on me. 

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Budge

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Budge: (v) to move slightly

I am an oxymoron.

For I will tell you of a certainty, I am a domesticated gypsy.

Or a gypsy, domesticated.

Half of my journey has been raising a family of fine sons, who now hDictionary Bave lives of their own.

But intermingled was a series of travels to share my art and heart with hundreds of thousands of people across the United States of America.

It was a precariously divine mission, one which I had to spark up in my soul daily, to guarantee enough pistons in the engine to propel me forward.

So I was often amused when I finished my show, which included music, humor and dialogue, and the sponsor nervously came to my side, twitching and relieved, and said, “It sure seems like everybody enjoyed it.”

I do think this individual usually believed if he or she had shared some problem or preference that the audience expressed, that I would leap at the opportunity to amend my approach or add a different angle to my presentation.

Here’s the truth–and you’ll just have to believe that it’s the truth since you’re not that familiar with my soul.

You can change your cologne but not your face.

What I mean by that is, if somebody wants you to smell different, it’s really no big deal.

But when somebody wants to change your look–or your outlook–they’ve landed on sacred ground.

I’m always willing to change things that don’t matter, but I won’t budge if I believe they have eternal consequences.

 

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Bloke

Bloke: (n) a man; a fellow.

Dictionary B

There is an unwritten rule of writing. (That sounds like an oxymoron.)

What I’m saying is that normally in the process of writing five hundred words, you try not to repeat any word more than once (which I just did).

So if for some reason, your story is talking about a fellow, or some guy, and you decide not to give this gentleman a name, then you are forced to come up with a series of words which represent a male.

It’s what I call “Roget Writing”–when you look up different ideas for the same thing in the thesaurus, in order to appear clever.

It is not only difficult and clumsy, but can become quite comical–because after you’ve used, “man, guy, fellow, chap, and dude,” you start considering inserting the word “bloke.”

Even though the person is not from “Down Under,” you take the risk anyway.

It’s one of those things that makes you look like an amateur, when the better solution is to give your character a name so you don’t have to keep describing him using as many macho representations as available.

 

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Battle

Battle: (n) a sustained fight between large, organized armed forces.Dictionary B

I think I have a new favorite stupid statement–even though I must admit that “favorite stupid statement” may be an oxymoron.

Nevertheless, I, for one, am tired of hearing people say, “I pick my battles.”

What an audaciously ridiculous notion. It’s really just an excuse for prefacing our cowardice.

In other words, “I have no intention of displaying a backbone in this situation. I have only a certain number of battles I can wage, and this is not going to be one of them.”

Let me make it clear that throughout my journey, I have never seen the time when I could pick my battles.

My battles are laid out in front of me, and I can either choose to fight them, or run away and pretend like I’m looking for “higher ground.”

“I pick my battles” is the phrase that kept stupidity alive in our country, prejudice in full force, bigotry operating successfully and talent relegated to the back row.

We don’t pick our battles.

The battles exist.

And we can choose to either participate, or be part of the people who pretended to march on the side of righteousness or who insist that if it ever happens again, they will be in the front lines.

 

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Award

Award: (n) a prize or other mark of recognition given in honor of an achievement.dictionary with letter A

I went through a phase in my life when I would describe myself as “delightfully obnoxious.”

I know that might seem like an oxymoron, but I think in our journey to find great confidence which is balanced with humility, we occasionally veer off the road toward one extreme or another.

I was living in Shreveport, Louisiana, and had teamed up with a couple dozen other folk. We deemed ourselves to be artisans. (Whether we actually were is probably hidden, along with beauty, in the eye of the beholder.)

We busied ourselves with the local cable TV station, making all sorts of videos, little movies and programs to be aired for public consumption on a first-come, first-served basis.

What frustrated the Public Access station was how prolific we were. Matter of fact, one of the managers characterized it as “annoyingly prolific.”

So when it came time for the local awards show, we ended up being nominated in all six categories available. Rather than this being viewed by the provincial committee as a positive, it was instead snubbed as distasteful and overwrought.

This caused us to turn up the level of volume and amplify the arrogance.

On the night of the awards show, every member of our team showed up, hooted and hollered each time our name was mentioned, turning it into a festival of joy instead of the rigorous necessity of compliance to formality that had been envisioned.

Of course, they got even. Of the six categories, we only won a single award. But we didn’t care.

It was a fabulous night of rejoicing, and having some sense of being awarded for the hard work we had put in on the projects.

By no means do I condone our actions or our over-zealous approach.

Yet I will tell you that it is often required for passion to be accelerated to such a level that it shocks apathy into actually feeling something.

 

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Anti-hero

dictionary with letter A

Anti-hero (n): a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.

Is it an oxymoron or just redundant?

For after all, there are no true heroes who fit the criteria we normally assess to such an honor.

  • All heroes come from nowhere just in the nick of time.
  • They cannot be manufactured–though we have hammered away.
  • They cannot be educated, though classes continue to be held.
  • They cannot be ordained, though religious institutions anoint at will.
  • And they are not born heroes.

One of the greatest misconceptions in our culture is the notion that people are born any particular way. We are all birthed with the need to be born again–emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically–or else to be cast in the role of being mere understudies of our parents’ stage work.

No one would expect a scrawny attorney from Illinois to be the central figure for the emancipation of the black race and the maintaining of the union of our country.

No one could ever have anticipated that a young man who struggled with math would later convince us that E does equal MC squared.

Could anyone have foreseen that a gentleman of great promise who was struck with polio and was confined to a wheelchair would be elected president four times, guiding us through a national depression and a world war?

Looking at a string of poets, musicians, authors, statesmen, inventors and liberators, there is not one of them who was naturally inclined to greatness.

It is those we preen to be heroes who disappoint us and those who we have cursed to obscurity who end up astounding us.

After all, could anyone have thought that a refugee to Egypt, who grew up in a village of less than five hundred people, the son of a carpenter, would be proclaimed the light of the world?

 

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