Death Penalty

Death penalty: (n) punishment by death for a crime

I am so happy that life is more like a motion picture than a brochure of photo shopped stills.

Honestly, if you had frozen my face, attitudes and beliefs at any one particular time in my life, I not only might have been contrary to you, but also at odds with my present incarnation.

There’s just too much to learn on this journey to ever be certain.

“Certain” is the profile taken by either fools or people who have enough money to pay for an alibi.

So I will freely tell you—there was a time when I was favorable, if not an advocate, for the death penalty.

My reasoning was not vengeance.

Rather, I cited the case of Charles Manson. I felt he was given a cruel and unusual punishment by having to live inside his own tormented brain the rest of his life. It seemed to me that capital punishment in a situation like that would actually be merciful.

Folks would “ooh and aah” over my insight–and I felt that I succeeded in killing off the bad guys and looking genteel at the same time.

Then one day, I opened the Good Book and read the story of Cain and Abel. According to this volume, Cain killed his brother, Abel, generating the first murder case.

When God caught up with Cain and spoke to him, He asked him why he was hiding and tried to get him to tell the truth. Though not totally successful, God, who had the power to take his life, instead exiles Cain. He goes, starts his own family and continues his breathing.

This gave me pause.

If God, who had a slam-dunk murder case against Cain, chose to give him the opportunity to live out a new possibility, who in the hell was I to lobby for the death of another soul?

I am not trying to insinuate that rehabilitation is successful.

I don’t think that someone who is massively cruel deserves to continue existing.

I just know that God chose not to execute the first murderer.

And He’s really the only judge,

For we all know there are many roads and detours before we arrive at our destination.



Deadhead: (n) a person using a free pass

Just to be candid with you, when my children were growing up, I often called them “deadheads.”

It was that glassy-eyed look, which they would sport when arriving for breakfast, believing that if nothing was happening outside, then nothing need happen inside their own heads.

I taunted them about this profile because it does not disappear simply because you cease to be an adolescent.

For if you believe you’re going to respond to what is happening, but stay disconnected until you have confirmed there is activity afoot, you will not only fail to be ready for the opportunity, but will find yourself resentful that you weren’t given more time to prepare.

The secret to life is no secret.

It’s completely obvious.

The whole temperature of Planet Earth is geared to three different emotions, and our job is to know when to use them:

  1. Care
  2. Aware
  3. Dare

Often we arrive and somebody is already hurt. There’s pain in the air and suffering has made its mark. Being able to dip into a heart filled with grace and provide care is ushering heaven to Earth.

Sometimes there’s a chance to do something truly significant, but it is buried under inconvenience or arrives on a day when we have already determined that “we’re too busy.” Yet, for those who are aware and have tuned their ears, eyes and passions to possibility, these little treasures can carry us into the future and place us in great positions.

And we must realize there are occasions when fear, anger or bigotry has shut down the world around us, and it is time to step out of the box of conformity and do something unexpected—and provide immediate benefit.

Can we dare to do it?

So to avoid being a deadhead, you must travel with care, aware and dare tucked into your saddlebags, so you are ready to set up camp and start the fire.



Byword: (n) expression summarizing characteristics

What do people think when they hear my name? That’s damn important.

Even though we try to play down the significance of public opinion, since none of us live an isolated existence, people’s idea of us are pretty important.

Am I so mixed up that those who know me find it difficult to pinpoint a continuing virtue or a clinging vice?

Am I constantly reinventing myself to such an extent that no one is sure what I treasure?

Even though we extol the value of choice, it is actually a blessing. Many times we get no choice. All we have is the overwhelming evidence of how we selected to be known, punctuated by countless irrefutable examples.

What is my byword?

  • Is it selfish?
  • Dull?
  • Is it aging?
  • Kind?
  • Indifferent?
  • Is it oblivious?
  • Gentle?

Each one of these words has attended a master class of achievement.

Frankly, no one assumes we’re oblivious–we have to prove it through our complete mental absence.

No one assumes we’re kind unless we have extended kindness.

No one insists we’re old unless we’re constantly complaining about our pains.

So here’s my advice: pick a profile and profile it daily.


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Blue-collar: (adj) relating to manual work or workersDictionary B 

Backed up traffic.

I mean for miles.

It was a hot day so I turned off the air conditioner in my car so as not to overheat the engine. This required me to roll down the windows. Sitting in my vehicle, I started to sweat.

Since I was moving very slowly and passing workers who were digging, scraping and rolling wheelbarrows of what they collected in and out of the site, I noted that I was perspiring sitting in a car, while they were subjected to the full brunt of sunshine, pursuing extremely strenuous activity without any visible sign of complaint or demanding five-minute breaks every ten minutes.

For some reason, we feel that these workers have diminished their possibilities by not getting enough education to sit in a car in the middle of traffic and watch the blue collars become saturated with perspiration.

I don’t know why we feel the necessity to place special significance on one effort over another.

I have a simple guideline: if I can’t do it, won’t do it or have even chosen to avoid it, when I do see those who accomplish it, I admire them.

In the process of this profile, I have developed a deep and abiding respect for those who are considered manual laborers–who are actually specialists at their craft, continually proving that in their particular arena, they are my superiors.


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by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abrogate: (v.) to do away with or repeal a law, right or formal agreement

He came into my room.

“He” was my fourteen-year-old son, who had just been confronted by me for breaking one of the family rules. This was not unusual. Being a teenager, he was more than willing to fulfill his quorum of weekly indiscretions, to face the equivalent provided punishments.

Yet this time was different.

Instead of coming into my room in tears or firing fiery darts of anger from his eyes, he had selected a profile of reasonableness. He gave me the respect I deserved as his father, but at the same time, came prepared with a case to make on his behalf–how the rule he had just broken lacked clarity and necessity.

He was calm. He was asking me in an uncharacteristically gentle way, to abrogate my decision by offering me pointed examples of why this particular precept held dear in the family was not necessarily applicable anymore.

For a fourteen-year-old, he was quite eloquent.

It made me realize that we live in a world where lots of folks think that the power of their principles are best expressed by screaming at the top of their lungs. They contend that their displeasure over some particular practice or law should be enough to change the situation on the spot. They take no consideration for the common good. They are not concerned with equity, and justice takes a back burner to convenience.

But here I was–listening to my fourteen-year-old son expound with both fervency and practicality, a case concerning his innocence–if this qualification for purity were lifted and abandoned.

He was asking me to trust him. He was asking me to believe in him. He was asking me to reconsider my position without trying to make me feel as if I were a dictator, a socialist and a murderer of all teenage rights.

At the end of his discourse, I asked him a couple of questions, and although his responses were not as astute as his original presentation, I still believed he had taken the time to consider his position instead of merely building up a head of steam.

I was impressed. I was so taken by his metamorphosis that I changed the rule. I abrogated it.

There are many things that may need to be abrogated in our society today–arbitrary findings and guidelines that require another “look-see.” But nothing will happen until people of common sense calm their attitudes and present a logical case instead of constantly hammering away with stubbornness and self-righteousness.

It can be done. Outdated concepts can be abrogated in favor of more mature and realistic options.  But yelling and cursing only create a soil for growing the weeds of stupidity.

We need intelligence. It’s the only way to abrogate ignorance.