Chasm

Chasm: (n) a deep fissure in the earth, rock, or another surface

The three-step process is as follows:

  1. It’s a problem.
  2. It seems unfixable.
  3. Therefore it’s normal.

This is the present way our society handles difficulties. In doing this, we’ve opened the door of our home to many a stray racoon, thinking the creature is not that
different from our domesticated pets. When the racoon ends up being wild, untamed and unwilling to accept human domination of the household, we have to make a decision.

Do we shoo it out the door? Do we kill it? Or do we find a way to live in the home with a racoon, pretending we’re equals?

I know it sounds silly. Thus the point.

Nearly fifty years ago, our country was concerned about a generation gap–a chasm that existed between parents and teenagers, causing conflict and a lack of communication.

Move ahead fifty years and the same chasm still exists. We have just decided it’s normal. In deciding it’s normal, the racoon of rebellion wanders the hallways, throwing its attitude and therefore dominating the climate of our American Dream.

We defend the racoon by saying it has a right to free speech.

Or to own a gun.

Or to be anything it wants to be.

Or to interfere in the lives of others as long as it doesn’t totally destroy.

We’re afraid of chasms, but instead of admitting there’s a gap in understanding, we pretend it’s a cultural difference, an ethnic preference, a doctrinal dispute or a political stumping point.

Somewhere along the line we will have to agree on the three things that will allow the human race to survive:

  • Creativity
  • Tolerance
  • A challenge

We will have to stop being afraid of the chasm, and instead, be prepared to make some giant leaps for mankind.

 

 

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Charlatan

Charlatan: (n) a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.

Even though I don’t believe there’s any secret to life–otherwise God would be a nasty uncle playing a game of hide and seek so He can take a nap–I do believe there are markers along the way, telling us how to make this passage of Earth-Time much more plausible.

One of those gems is to make sure you never critique anyone unless you’ve already scoured yourself to uncover the same condition.

If you call somebody a fake, you’d better make sure you’re not faking something yourself.

If you refer to somebody as a liar, you might want to precede that with an honesty session and unburden yourself of all your half-truths.

And if you claim that someone is a charlatan, you should be fully aware that the false claims you place on your qualifications–the additional bullet points you may slip into a resume–might equally define you as being a charlatan also.

Here’s a powerful message: take aim at yourself first, and then see if you can help somebody else.

Dirty people with dirty hands who come across other dirty people and try to help them end up just transferring much of their dirt onto the person in need.

God forgive generations of ministers, politicians, businessmen, counselors, teachers and even parents who voraciously took on the job of correcting…except where it came to straightening their own path.

 

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Character

Character: (n) mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual

There are four stop-offs in life.

Each one is available; each one is real. The type of character we derive is determined by whether we allow ourselves to linger or progress.

First, we’re born.

It comes with a whole package of possibilities, and also genetic guidelines. There are those who go no further. They take what they receive
from their DNA, listen to all training provided, and go through a brief period of rebellion, only to end up greatly resembling those who procreated them.

There’s a second opportunity. It’s called being born again.

Although the term has been limited to a Christian religious experience, it is available to all souls who are weary of the confinement of their childhood.

Some people stop at being born again. They end up with their homespun philosophy and a few extra ideas they add onto their train of thought.

But character does not form from being born or born again. Character begins to take shape when we’re born through pain.

Pain is that status that surrounds us whenever pleasure decides to go away. It reminds us of our weaknesses, it taunts us with our failures, and it takes all of our chromosomal lacking and brings it to the forefront. It is here that we decide to be something instead of letting the circumstances determine what we’re going to be.

Noble souls reach this point and begin to forge a personal definition all their own. They become valuable to the human tribe because they are contributors instead of detractors.

But the final stage is to be born universal.

This is when all name tags, cultures, prejudices and limitations of gender are set aside in favor of the simplicity of enjoying the next person we meet.

This station in life is not only color-blind, but also turns a blind eye to any vision that insists on hurting others or painting a dark picture of the life we’ve been given.

Four stations.

Where will we stop off?

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Brother

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Brother: (n) a man or boy in relation to other sons and daughters of his parents.

I had four brothers who shared a common uterus with me. Not at the same time; we had different leasing arrangements.Dictionary B

I will tell you that those four individuals have importance in my life because we lived in a common household. But they are not closer to me than other folks who have stumbled across my path.

I believe we could have been great kinfolk–more intimate. But it is really the mother and father who decide how tight the bond will be among the children.

For instance, it is possible to accidentally pit your offspring against each other. Too much competition in a house creates enemies instead of fellow-laborers. And of course, favoritism makes one child work too hard and another one skate on thin ice.

Two of my brothers have already passed on. The oldest one never totally understood me and we never came to peace with each other. The second ghost and I had a violent relationship, which simmered into a warm broth, which we were able to enjoy.

And my other two brothers–well, we bounce between contact and alienation.

Now, it was my joy to be the father of three sons and three other young men that I “godfathered” to adulthood.

I must have done something right, because they don’t hate each other. Or maybe they just decided to ignore my attempts to generate boundaries and chasms, and worked on finding common ground.

I don’t know which one it is–but I will give you the definition for brother:

It is not someone of your own household who shares a mom with you.

It is not a male Christian counterpart who communes with you at an altar.

A brother is, and always will be, someone who refuses to believe the gossip he hears about you, but instead, comes to you directly…to get the real story.

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Bouquet

Bouquet: (n) an attractively arranged bunch of flowers

When you live in a small town, there is usually only one of everything:Dictionary B

  • One drugstore
  • One grocery outlet
  • And one florist

When I was a young boy beginning to dabble in the witchery of romance, I decided, on the arrival of my third date with a young lady, to purchase some flowers. My parents, in an attempt to be supportive, told me I could charge them down at the Bellgrade Floral Shop.

So I walked in, a complete novice, intimidated, and fell victim to a helpful clerk.

She pitied me. She thought it was cute that I was going to buy flowers for my girlfriend. She immediately began to make suggestions. Not wanting to discourage her or come across as a rube, I nodded and agreed to each one of her many considerations.

When she was done, adding in all the baby’s breath (which she explained to me) I had a huge bouquet of flowers. It was impressive.

She asked the question. “How would you like to pay for this?”

Obedient son that I was, I told her that it was to go on my parents’ account. I was thrilled, and my girlfriend was over the moon about her array of garden beauties.

Two weeks later I was called in to my mother and father’s presence because they had received the bill from the Bellgrade Floral Shop.

Fifty-three dollars.

And keep in mind, this was in an era when my dad made seventy-five dollars a week. So he was red with rage and my mother could barely breathe. They asked me, “Why did you spend so much money on those flowers?”

I had no real answer.

I did not know how to explain how the combination of the fragrant greenhouse, the happiness of my girlfriend and the salesmanship of the lady … had swept me away.

 

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Bottle

Bottle: (n) a container with a narrow neck, used for storing drinks or other liquids.

Kids like money.Dictionary B

I suppose you can try to change that.  Good luck.

Actually, the best you can do–so as not to become a personal ATM for your offspring–is to instruct them on various methods they can use to earn small sums of cash.

When my seven-year-old son came to me complaining that he didn’t have funds to buy a toy, I suggested that he go out and collect bottles. This was a time when such an adventure was plausible, and paid off with two cents per container.

He became extraordinarily industrious. In no time at all, he had collected 268 bottles. He was so proud.

So I drove him down to the local grocery store, which had promised to pay the deposit, and let him go in with a  cart, completely packed to the brim.

He was gone a long time. I almost decided to go in and check up on him, but felt he might consider that interfering.

He finally returned to the car with a little money in his hand and tears in his eyes. He didn’t say a word. So I finally asked him why he was so upset.

He shared that the store manager told him that today they would only give one penny for each bottle. He didn’t want to argue with a grown-up, so he accepted his half payment.

We just sat there for a moment in silence. Finally I asked him, “So what do you feel about that?”

The tears avalanched down his cheeks.

“I think it stinks,” he said.

I explained to him that since he felt that way, he should probably go in and make a stand. He nervously agreed.

Being a proud father, I couldn’t miss this. I made sure he didn’t see me sneak in behind him, but I was bound and determined to catch the discussion.

My little fellow was very respectful, but he challenged the manager and said that he had worked very hard to collect the bottles because he had been promised two cents.

Amazingly, the manager decided to stonewall. But as my boy made his case, a few customers came around, listening in on the exchange. One of them took my son’s side, and before you knew it, there were four or five people frowning at the store manager.

He realized he was going to lose more business than the $2.68 he was withholding. So he reached into the drawer, handed the money to my son and told him to be about his business.

I quickly scurried to the car to be there before he arrived. When he opened the door, he had a big, beaming smile.

He learned to stand up for himself–even though there was the risk that nothing would change. The truth of the matter is, if you’re being cheated by a penny on your bottles, you’d better pipe up.

Because bottling up your feelings can leave some nasty deposits.

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Berate

Berate (v): to scold or criticize someone angrily.

Dictionary B

My wife’s parents didn’t like me.

They had good reason.

I lied, cheated, misinformed and did a bunch of crap which forced them into the role of being critical defenders of their daughter.

Yet I had the excuse of being intoxicated by adolescence. They were supposed to be mature and understand my weakness, but instead, berated me, telling me I would never be anything of quality.

Being very young, I felt it was my duty to verbally attack them also, leaving a chasm of misunderstanding, which I believed would be taken care of over time. I thought that once their daughter and I were married and had children, matters would miraculously transpire to turn us into a family, laughingly remembering former days of conflict.

It never happened.

Matter of fact, I can recite several events in my life when I was berated–or was the berator of others myself–where those relationships have never healed, but have instead settled into an uncomfortable silence of unacceptability.

We are civil.

I suppose there are even moments of kindness.

But the grudge that is still carried leaves both parties breathless, if not hopeless.

So what I have learned with each passing birthday is that the less I confront those around me, the greater the possibility of maintaining the warmth of fellowship.

I suppose we should be a race that is forgiving, gentle and free of resentment.

We are not.

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