Coexist

Coexist: (v) to exist at the same time or in the same place

It’s stuck right there in the middle. I’m talking about the word “coexist.”

In the chain of understanding that links us together as human beings, coexist perches on the fifty-yard line.

When we don’t respect one another, we look at other humans as “occupying space.” They are occupiers. Therefore they can be bumped, shoved and pushed around to get out of our more important way.

On the other side of coexist is “include.” This is when we realize that our space on Earth is our space on Earth, and is linked equally to every other compartment.

But somewhere along the line, in order to move away from occupying, where we disdain the value of other souls–toward including, where we not only respect but also grant dignity to the lives of others–is this neutrality of coexist.

In other words: “You have every right to be here, just like me, whether I feel that way today or not.”

That’s coexist.

  • Coexist gets rid of racism.
  • Coexist removes hyper-culturalism.
  • Coexist also demands that we cease waving our flag, ignoring the patriotism of others.
  • Coexist is a journey we take, where we lose our ignorance on our way to kindness.

Let’s learn to coexist.

Maybe we won’t get any further than that–but it’s enough to keep us from killing each other each and every day.

 

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Chiller

Chiller: (n) short for spine-chiller.

My parents tried.

As I get older, I vaguely understand that my mother and father attempted to comprehend what was in the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy.

They didn’t do well–that’s why I used the word “tried.” Maybe I should have added “and failed.”

But once a month they would let me have some friends over to spend the night on Friday evening, and after my parents went to bed, we would gather in front of the only television in the house, which happened to be in the living room, and watch “Chiller Theater.”

The movies weren’t really scary–they were 1930′ or 1940’s ilk, chocked-full of silly props and plagued with over-acting.

But with seven or eight young boys in a dark house, poking each other and wrestling, the experience soon turned into a scream fest.

My father would appear from the bedroom, which was adjacent to the living room in our tiny bungalow, and mutter something to the effect of, “You boys need to keep it down.” But my recollection of how it sounded in my ears was: “Youwse keep the clown.”

So since the order was vague, we would quiet ourselves for a small period of time, and soon be right back to the decibels necessary to make us feel like we were really partying.

I think my parents hated “Chiller Theater” night. This was proven by the fact that they always insisted, when the fourth Friday came around, that I had added incorrectly, and it wouldn’t be until next week. Unfortunately for them, I carried a calendar with me and pointed out their mistake.

So when I hear the word “chiller,” I think of six or seven pubescent and pre-pubescent boys gathered in a tiny living room, wrestling, trying desperately not to knock over furniture, while screaming just enough to prove that we were the true “Monsters of Might” instead of those displayed on the screen before us.

 

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Children

Children: (n) plural form of child.

Four sons were brought into this world by my sexual cooperation. In other words, I’m their dad.

Three other young gentlemen arrived on my doorstep because they were no longer safe and sound in their home environment.

As I look back on it, I must be truthful–because I’m a writer, a vagabond, a searcher and a proclaimer, I may not have been the best choice of a man to have
children. Fortunately for me, my offspring generally disagree.

My approach with children was really simple: I have a life. It is my time to have a life. You are welcome to come along if you don’t complain too much.

They quickly became convinced that their dad was cool, because he wasn’t like other dads. Of course, when they came into their teen years, they became critical of me not being like other dads. The charm of my uniqueness had worn off.

Children exist for two reasons:

  1. To remind us how bratty human beings really are.
  2. To give us a chance through instruction, love and tenderness to make a better generation.

I cuddled with my children but I never coddled them.

I loved them but I avoided getting lovey-dovey.

I gave to them, but never gave into their demands.

I respected them as long as they respected themselves.

I laughed with them as long as they realized there was a season to weep.

And when it was time for them to move on, I granted them the autonomy to be themselves without feeling loaded down with ancient family history.

The Good Book says we are the children of God. It’s very true–because after all, we are a bratty group which needs discipline, but still possesses the potential of bringing new hope for a new generation.

 

 

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Chanukkah

Chanukkah: (n) a lesser Jewish festival, lasting eight days

America is apparently doped up, and the drug of choice is freedom. Yes, it is possible to have so much freedom that there is no restraint.

We need to learn the difference between giving respect and giving attention.

For instance, anyone who is struggling with gender identification should be given the respect and space to make that journey. But when such
a group of people is less than one percent of our country, giving them too much attention is flat-out ridiculous.

The same thing is true with Christmas and Chanukkah. At last count, there were eight million Jews in the world. God bless them. (Or Jehovah bless them, depending on which one is more appropriate.) They have a celebration which falls near Christmas. It should be given respect.

But it cannot be given equal attention to Christmas.

It is absolutely ludicrous. You do not make things fair by making everything equally as important. Chanukkah is a holiday for fewer than eight million people. Christmas, on the other hand, is celebrated by three-and-a-half billion.

Numbers do make a difference. Otherwise, we don’t have Democracy. The more votes a candidate gets, the better chance they have of being elected.

So in my opinion, it’s “Merry Christmas to one and all,” and to our Jewish friends, “Happy Chanukkah.” It is NOT “Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukkah.”

They are not equivalent and it is an irrational idea to presume that both should be given equal attention.

I’m glad I live in a country that gives respect to all participants, but I do not want to live in a comical environment, where we attempt to achieve equal attention.

 

 

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Chain Reaction

Chain reaction: (n) a series of events, each caused by the previous one.

I have never found a pear on an apple tree. This seems like a trivial statement. But you see, there are many things in nature which we accept
as true, but never apply them to our personal lives.

For example:

I’ve never received respect by being mean. Fear, perhaps–but never respect.

I’ve never been productive by being timid.

I’ve never achieved good romance by being selfish.

I’ve never acquired money by sitting on my treasure chest, guarding it from thieves.

Life is filled with chain reactions. It is not limited to the elements becoming compounds. It includes the ability to look inside yourself and see the fodder that fosters failure and call out the standards that salute success.

Life is a chain reaction.

I have boarded a bus in the middle of downtown America–a vehicle full of sullen, preoccupied people–greeted the bus driver with a smile, kindly addressed one or two people nearby, and in no time at all, a chain reaction went through the bus, and conversation ensued.

I am powerful.

You are powerful.

I can view my life as a catalyst for creativity, or I can become a whiny, cautionary voice of worry and concern. The choice is mine. But either way, there will be a chain reaction.

It’s not so much that if a bear farts in the woods of Minnesota, rain falls in Brazil–but rather, if a bear farts in the woods of Minnesota, is he conscientious enough to excuse himself so the squirrels don’t get cranky and have a bad day?

 

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Bumpkin

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Bumpkin: (n) a socially awkward person from the countryside

The premise seems to be that if you can convince yourself that other people are ignorant, then you don’t have to deal with them, love them, respect them or even give them space.

After all, since we’ve decided to suck on the juice from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, we have become a prideful race, who contend “the more you know, the smarter you get.”

But a lot of people have accumulated data without ever becoming smart. I believe there are four ways to be smart, which cause you to escape the world of “bumpkin:”

  1. Emotionally smart.

Basically, that’s admitting, “I can’t help anyone else if I’m a freaked-out mess.”

  1. Spiritually smart.

“I was never created to be an angel, so I need enough God in my life to love my neighbor as myself.”

  1. Mentally smart.

I need to take in just enough new information that I can try it out for myself, and therefore confirm–within me–that there’s truth to it.

  1. Body smart.

“I don’t eat too much of anything, exercise enough that I feel refreshed, and sleep every chance I can.”

My finding is that the people who follow these simple “smart values” end up being very universal and valuable to the world around them.

A bumpkin is not a person from a particular location.

A bumpkin is someone who has not yet located how to be a person.

 

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Blue-collar

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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