Dachau

Dachau: (n) a city in SE Germany, near Munich, the site of Nazi concentration camp.

We forget how dangerous populists can be—because they always say such popular things.

It would be difficult to be critical of a man proclaiming the delicious virtues of chocolate until you realized he was advocating only the consumption of chocolate—to the exclusion of everything else—thus leaving his followers to many dangerous acquired conditions.

Adolph Hitler was a populist.

Long before he was a dictator—perhaps even before he became maniacal—he was a public speaker touting the exceptional nature of the German people.

He explained to them how they had been mistreated among the Europeans after World War I and that it was necessary, for the good of their heritage, to rise up and be counted.

That’s how he started.

It was difficult to disagree with him. Germany had been devastated by the First World War. There was a need for some sort of pep rally, to inspire a renovation.

But as I said, long before populists become dictators, they seem to be prophets of possibility and messengers for magnification.

When does it change?

When do populists–who seem harmless–need to be recognized for their vicious natures and set to the side or pushed out of our lives, so we don’t elevate them to positions of authority, where all of their overwrought ideas can be manifested?

That’s easy.

When the populist starts making a group—a nationality, a gender, a lifestyle or a race—the source of all difficulty and preaches that the situation could be greatly alleviated by targeting these offending individuals.

For Hitler, it was the Jews.

Candidly, he would never have gotten away with killing Jews if the German people didn’t secretly harbor a deep-rooted prejudice against them. Going back to the music of Wagner and the lesser works of Martin Luther, there was an abiding notion in the Germanic tribe that the Jews were responsible for most evil things.

For you see, no populist could have brought about such a dastardly genocide of an innocent people without feeding off the nervous apprehension of those who came to hear.

The end result is Dachau—a prison camp organized for one purpose: to find unique and efficient ways to torture and annihilate the Jewish race.

Perhaps we should do ourselves a favor in this election season.

We should acknowledge that there are populists who desire to rule our country. Their messages may seem innocuous at this point. Matter of fact, it may appear that they are merely extolling the value of American purity or standing up for the poor and disenfranchised.

But listen carefully.

Are they whispering words of disdain, or even hatred, in the direction of a particular group of people?

What is it they are saying about humans with brown skin?

What is it they’re intimating about citizens with a lot of money?

What is their stand on gender equality?

What do they think about those brothers and sisters around them who are different?

I never listen to a populist—no matter how humorous or inspiring the message might seem.

For a populist who honors fat people will eventually do so by portraying that skinny people are evil.

And a populist who regales the beauty of being thin and healthy will eventually encourage you to hate the obese.

We can prevent Dachau.

We can remove the fuel from the ovens that killed millions of souls.

Stop feeling the need to constantly be encouraged, or eventually you will steal someone else’s dignity to supplement your own.

 

Current

Current: (adj) new; present; most recent

I have never gone lockstep with the obvious.

I’m also quite reluctant to be in awe of the over-produced or exaggeratedly promoted.

I smile when people tell me that “the current position on something or other is as follows”—considering the fact that human beings change their minds more often than they change the batteries in their smoke detectors (by far).

Yet I know there are many individuals who are greatly impressed that something has been thrust forward for popular consumption, therefore making it the current fad.

Actually, one of the easier ways to make an immoral decision is to give heed and credence to what has the loudest promoter.

I’m not telling you that silence is golden, or obscurity invites purity.

I’m just saying that the easiest thing to do in life is advertise.

It doesn’t involve creativity, doesn’t require honesty and can change its emphasis in mid-campaign.

When I sit down and decide whether a practice is worthy of my support—one which has become current with the times—I ask myself three questions:

  1. Does it encourage people to accept one another and also challenge them to be better?
  2. Is it honest enough to admit there may be error?
  3. Is it open to revision—or closed off because those who are pushing it want to guarantee the reaction they desire?

If it passes those three questions, I’m prepared to accept any current movement, spirituality, kindness, politics, music or interaction.

If not, I quietly walk away, let everyone play with their toy for a while, and then warmly welcome them back, helping them overcome the instinct to be jaded.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cultural Diversity

Cultural Diversity: (n) the inclusion of diverse people in a group or organization

I was very surprised when I first discovered the varieties of chickens that are available. Matter of fact, it was during a slide show where a renowned farmer and breeder was explaining that “this group of birds over here was like this,” and “this group of birds over there had the following attributes…”

But as each slide passed in front of my eyes, all I could see were chickens.

I understand that’s because I am not an expert on the subject. Someone who studied it for years can look closely and find all sorts of indications that one conglomeration of chickens has a certain temperament, and another grouping is prone to a completely different behavior—not to mention that each one has unique desires for how they wish their parched corn to be seasoned.

I felt very stupid.

I was told that in some cases, an intermingling of these chickens will produce the most profitable and successful flocking.

But the professional also explained that focusing on one particular breed does allow for purity and predictability.

At the end of the lecture my head was spinning as I continued to peer at each slide in the show, forcing myself to notice miniscule differences.

The aberrations were quite important to this professional birdwatcher, but for the life of me, I could not distinguish one culture of “cluckers” from another. There were some unique colors and maybe a slight difference in beaks.

But it was all basically the same.

At the end of the evening, our guest speaker brought out cooked pieces of chicken from each one of the tribes of feathered friends. He explained the individuality we would experience while sampling each culture.

At the end of the demonstration I was very embarrassed.

When he asked me what I learned from the evening, I sheepishly looked at him and said, “It all tastes like chicken.”

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crucify

Crucify: (v) to nail the hands and feet to a cross

Origins.

The Greeks created gods.

They were empowered with practicality—for war, romance, wine and domination. Gods of convenience.

Buddhism has no god.

Instead, Buddha insisted that our weakness as humans is how human we are through flaunting our emotions.

Judaism is really a journey through a family of Bedouins led by a man named Abraham, who established their uniqueness by cutting off the tip of the foreskin of the penis.

The Muslim religion was formed to counteract the domination of the Jews and establish a people of purity, who spread their message throughout the world, using violence if necessary.

Christianity worships a man who was nailed at the hands and feet as a criminal who allegedly committed sedition against the Roman Empire.

The symbols are not terribly inspiring, are they?

The origins of faith don’t seem to be grounded in inspiration, brotherhood and equality.

The message of Christianity remains disheartening—the Prince of Peace visited the Earth, sharing a message of global unity. Our response was, “Fuck you—take some nails as you leave.”

I’m told that Jesus allowed himself to be crucified.

I’m not very fond of martyrs.

Is it possible that he was killed by the ignorance of all the other religions coming together to protect their financial security, and that God, in His infinite grace and mercy, decided to use the violent act as an opportunity to offer salvation to “whosoever will may come?”

Now, there’s a story I can walk with.

No, there’s a story that makes me run toward hope.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Cadence

 

j-r-practix-with-border-2
Cadence:
(n) the flow or rhythm of events

I remember the first time I heard the phrase. I was a young man sitting in a church with a white shirt collar that was too small for me, wearing a colorful tie which
had to be tucked into my pants because it was perniciously uneven.

The phrase was “decency and order.”

The minister was pretty sure he knew understood. He preached a sermon offering a cadence of commitment to form and reason. He contended that Godly ways had to be morally correct and follow a sequence which left no doubt of the purity of the intention.

For instance: sin–but not too much, to where it leaves a lasting mark. Come to your senses, find God, repent, get a job, marry, have children and donate adequate sums to your local congregation.

I hated it.

It’s not that I favored immorality nor was an anarchist. Even though I had an immature young mind, I understood that this was not the true cadence of life. Life arrives in chaos and requires triage.

What do I take care of first? How can I keep this together? What can I seek out to keep from freaking out?

It just seemed to me that sometimes there isn’t enough time and space available to consider the ultimate morality or the best way to stack up possibilities.

I don’t know what the original author of these words was trying to convey, but human beings are rarely “decent” and never “in order.”

If God Almighty is waiting for us to transform into a dutiful and meticulous creation, He certainly failed to provide the raw material. We are erratic. We are uncertain. And our greatest mission in life is to make sure we’re not afraid of who we are.

Sometimes the best we can do is slow things down and use what we’ve got. I suppose that doesn’t sound quite as officious as “decency and order,” but it is more accurate.

Over the years I have tried to become more adept at organization and goodness–but when I fail, I have chosen to laugh at the frailty instead of weeping over my insufficiency.

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Blur

Blur: (v) to make or become unclear or less distinct.

Dictionary B

“Blurring the lines.”

It is a phrase used to characterize the alleged growing ambiguity between right and wrong.

It is a way for those who believe they’ve cornered the market on purity to lament the intrusion of foreign ideas.

Are we really blurring the lines, or are we just admitting that there are no lines?

After all, is life really a bounty of boundaries, which when crossed, transform us into different creatures? Or are there wide-open spaces and boxes?

And what is the purpose of wide open spaces?

Why do we insist that being free-thinking is better, while simultaneously decrying those visionary concepts which are contrary to the status quo?

After all, most of the things that exist in the panorama of our daily viewing would have been impossible to achieve if someone had not objected to the prevailing offering.

Which came first? Glue, paper clip or staple? It’s a rather easy answer, isn’t it? You can see the progression. First we tried glue, which didn’t stick; then we attached a paper clip, which slipped–and we finally arrived at the staple, which literally fastened a solution.

If we’re going to believe in lines, we will have to stay within them. To do so, we must make sure that we are completely comfortable and joyous within the limits of our enclosure.

And we also had better confirm that we’re not claustrophobic when our compartment starts filling up with conformists.

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Beatnik

Beatnik: (n) a young person in the 1950s and early 1960s belonging to a subculture associated with the beat generation.Dictionary B

Trends and fads have one thing in common: they have a commencement with no graduation, also having a beginning minus destination. For that reason, it’s difficult to assess their genesis, or comprehend their exodus.

But if you take a moment and think about it, every movement goes through three stages:

  1. Purity
  2. Parity
  3. Paltry

Our new ideas often begin with purity.

Like beatniks.

I believe the purpose of such a social awakening was to become more introspective and discover our inner selves and how we relate to the world around us.

Quite noble.

But for an idea to become popular, you have to be able to market it without promoting its more cerebral aspects. So eventually the beatnik generation sought parity by wearing black berets and turtlenecks. It was an easy way to identify a fellow beatnik.

Yes, often our greatest movements are shrunken to a simple fashion statement.

Then, once they became tired of wearing their costumes, they decided to just maintain the angst. Thus, the 1960s and 1970s.

We ended up with a paltry representation of self-realization–actually merely an adolescent temper tantrum to anything our parents did.

After all, there would have been no objection to the war in Vietnam if there weren’t a draft blowing young men into military service.

So how is it possible to keep the purity without insisting on parity and ending up with paltry?

I don’t know.

But I think it is the job of writers, who detour their material through the brain, to insist on considering such idealism.

 

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Adolescence

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAdolescence: (adj) period of time of a young person in the process of developing from a child into an adult

I think we have to make up our minds.

We have to decide if we worship youth, teenage years and schoolhouse memories, or whether we freely admit those years were the terror of our lives, a dangerous time when we were constantly threatening ourselves with mayhem, murder and decaptitation.

Here’s the truth, (I feel I can speak this because I raised six teenage sons.)

There is nothing redeemable about human beings between the ages of twelve and twenty-five.

Now, it’s not that we hate them–and of course,  the human race can’t progress without going through this bizarre transformation. We just can’t project a maturity on them which does not exist, while simultaneously expressing disapproval when they fail to measure up.

Adolescence is a form of insanity.

Although it’s not clinically diagnosed, it is universally accepted by those who have experience in this arena as a struggle to the death to survive the amphitheater of hormones and bad decisions, to escape the gladiatorial battle and become a real citizen.

You may think I’m overstating it, but actually, there’s a much greater danger in understating how the decisions made by young humans, with their limited experience, social consciousness and spiritual insight, are frightening and make me want to crawl under the covers.

For instance, God, for some reason, thought it was funny to give sexual desire to thirteen-year-olds. Even though I am sure there is some humor mingled in to that mix, it also is further complicated by the fact that girls of that age are extraordinarily fertile and able to procreate at an amazing rate which would make rabbits blush.

We also expect them to decide what to do with the rest of their lives, at this season when picking out what they’re going to wear to school seems to stupefy them.

So what is the best thing to do with an adolescent?

1. Treat them as mental patients, without ever letting them know that you’ve privately had them committed.

2. Try to get them to reason out their decisions even though the process may seem a bit befuddling to you.

3. Never assume they’re going to do the right thing and always know the wrong thing will be available–and the amount of pressure they get will determine their level of purity.

4. Never be afraid to converse or confront until you’re satisfied with some sort of mutual conclusion.

Of course, due to space and time, I will not even address how adolescence continues to plague us into our fifties and sixties … if we don’t address the real blemishes in our lives.

Activism

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Activism: (n) the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

 Quite bluntly, I do not believe in political or social change if there’s no spiritual resurrection in the human heart. I think politics stimulates debate–and discussions of social issues make people defensive or guilty. 

Until there is an awakening inside us that tells us that the same thing that happens to us also happens to others, and the only way to evaluate whether these conclusions are good or bad is by assessing how we would feel if we were the victim, there is no change. 

I just think it’s impossible to do that without an awareness of God and a healthy amount of respect for the power of the universe.

For instance, I don’t think the young humans in the 1960’s, who rebelled against the Vietnam War, did so because they were enlightened or enraged beyond other young folks of their ilk. I think they were intimidated by the spirituality of realizing that a war which had a draft meant that THEY might possibly have to go also—and it brought the reality home much quicker. After all, why would this present generation protest a war being fought by mercenaries and a volunteer army?

Unless truth can land in our hearts and generate a chill down our spines,  which makes it real in our own experience, we will have no empathy for others, and therefore not pursue activism to change our world.

So how do we reach a point where we really give a damn instead of walking around fussy, damning everything we’ve been given?

  1. If this was me, how would it feel?
  2. Could I survive it, or would I need to change it?
  3. If it does need to be changed, how could I start that revision in my everyday dealings?
  4. How can I use what I know how to do to gently inform others that there is a need for rejuvenation?

 All of my life I have traveled this country attempting to use my talents and voice in a simple way—to warn others of the nastiness that I have concluded I would not want to be done to myself.

It is so easy for white people to sit and shake their heads, wondering why black people in the inner cities kill each other. Even the less prejudiced ones conclude it must be some sort of racial inclination. Yet if you take two white boys and give them lives of poverty and deprivation, they’ll start shooting each other, too.

Activism is when I become connected with my own feelings and take an inventory of my likes and dislikes, while allowing other people the same courtesy.

It requires purity of heart.

And, as I intimated at the onset, it will be spirit-led because a pure heart always sees God.