Conform

Conform: (v) to comply

In case you occasionally slip up and start thinking there is some sanity in the actions of our social order, let me remind you of the greatest piece of hypocrisy ever hatched in the henhouse of clucking. Here it is:

“Be yourself but follow the rules.”

It is the message of America.

Both of us–you and me–are encouraged to be creative individuals, and then are informed that the advice given is faulty.

There’s an ancient piece of philosophy which challenges us: “Be not conformed but be transformed.”

In 1962, if you were living anywhere in America, the general consensus would have been that segregation of the races was not only the norm of the day, but funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
actually proper.

In 1966, you would have been struck down as anti-American if you suggested the war in Vietnam was anything other than a bold act of patriotism.

In 1971, you would have been laughed out of the room if you had proposed that black athletes should be able to play college sports in the Southeast Conference.

In 1981, the thought of homosexuality being part of the mainstream would have brought you criticism and cost you many friends.

In 1998, you would have been totally out of step to insist that oral sex was actually sex.

In 2003, suggesting that the war in Iraq was a foolish ploy would have brought the house down on top of your head.

And as I have recently found, in this day and age suggesting that the archaic American voting system is an insult to the notion of democracy, makes me an enemy of God, America and most ingredients in the apple pie.

You can conform–as long as you’re willing to be considered foolish within twenty years.

 

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Auburn

Auburn: (adj) (chiefly of a person’s hair) of a reddish-brown color.dictionary with letter A

My granddaughter thinks I’m over-sensitive.

Whenever she giggles about being isolated and having jokes told about her red hair, being referred to as a “ginger,” she thinks it’s cool.

I don’t.

When I read today’s word, auburn, I thought about the fact that people who have that unique coloration in their hair, would now be lumped in with those considered red-heads, and therefore dubbed “gingers.”

Prejudice is sneaky.

In the “olden days,” when black people picked cotton, no respectable white person would walk up to people with brown skin and call them “dumb niggers.”

They probably just joked about their “nappy hair.” All good-natured, you know–which opened the door to mentioning that their “black friend” also had large nostrils.

All the observations were accompanied with chuckles and maybe even a slap on the back.

The individual with black skin was disarmed by the jocular nature of the interaction. And so, what started off as seemingly harmless bantering moved into segregation and eventually with one person being the slave of another.

I’m sure Adolph Hitler did not walk into his first meeting with the Gestapo and say, “We need to kill the Jews.”

He probably joked around and said, “Don’t they have funny hair, and a hooked nose?”

For I am of a mindset that once we begin to focus on one another’s physical differences, in no time at all we are expressing our superiority.

I don’t like the “ginger” movement.

It’s where all the bigots against blacks, Mexicans and Asians have run to hide–since those forms of prejudice are now unacceptable.

Why can’t we say she just has beautiful auburn hair instead of finding a derogatory way of expressing it … insisting it’s all in fun?

 

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Annunciate

dictionary with letter A

Annuciate: (v) to announce something.

“Hear ye, hear ye!” the town crier squalled at the top of his lungs.

To annunciate.

Yet I believe the definition has evolved over the years, has it not? It is no longer about making an announcement, but rather, the idea that to annunciate is to speak clearly.

Maybe this change was necessary because over the years misunderstanding has tainted the original proclamation.

We must realize that clarity is just as important as purity. There are many people who feel they can annunciate great truth from holy books, but because they do it with a hypocritical accent or a vicious tone, the words never quite land on the human heart with comprehension.

I’ve heard individuals suggest that somebody speaks “with a nasal tone.” Actually the nose is a great reverberator, and when used, generates clearness of speech rather than inhibiting it.

Sometimes people fail to annunciate because they don’t want their meaning to be grasped. Ambiguity is a great advantage to those who have decided to be chicken-shit.

Case in point: politics always looks for sentences that can have double or even triple interpretations so as to protect the politician from defining a position.

Yet sooner or later, those who announce with purpose and represent their cause precisely are the ones who advance the human race in the direction of unity.

For after all, once you proclaim “liberty and justice for all” it is difficult to tolerate segregation and inequity.

And when you’ve stood in a pulpit and spoken “God is love” and the words ring out like a bell in the heart of mankind, it is nearly impossible to transform that thought into a vengeful and hateful Being who wishes to destroy portions of His creation because of their status.

To annunciate: to announce, unafraid to articulate … knowing that the truth that makes us free must be spoken faithfully.

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Alternative

dictionary with letter A

Alternative: (adj.) available as another possibility: e.g. the various alternative methods for resolving disputes

Webster’s dictionary definition is very generous.

In a world where the status quo is extolled as not only being common, but nearly godly in its significance, a concept like “alternative” is almost always associated with being out of the flow.

  • Alternative rock: another name for “your rock band has no chance of being played on Top 40 Radio.”
  • Alternative lifestyle: a warning shouted by Middle America to discourage you from moving into their neighborhood.
  • Alternative political party: a guarantee that you will only receive votes from family members.
  • Alternative worship experience: the real one is happening at eleven o’clock, but we’re going to let the kids play around at nine.

Here’s what I know about alternative: if I’m in a room discussing an issue with friends, family, acquaintances and by-standers, and somebody offers an idea that may be contrary to the norm but addresses a need that no one has yet considered, it is no longer an alternative view, but rather, a necessary inclusion.

Bluntly, just because people don’t agree with me does not mean they don’t possess smart ideas that are required to form the solution.

It doesn’t matter what issue we are trying to finagle–from gun control to abortion to immigration to war to homosexuality–well, the list goes on and on. What is required to make the requirement is to listen to others tell you what they require.

What we are calling alternative opinions are often pieces of the puzzle which must be kept in readiness, so when we get to the end and find out we’re incomplete, they can be placed in their needful position to form the picture.

It reminds me of the story of the feeding of the five thousand from the Good Book. After the initial miracle of providing grub for a large crowd with limited funds for the menu, Jesus tells the disciples to “gather up the leftovers, that nothing be lost.” I am sure they thought it was stupid. Everybody was stuffed; they had gorged themselves on food. What was the purpose of carrying around twelve baskets of extras?

Simple. He was telling these fellows that somewhere along the line they were going to need them.

If we throw away every idea that is not part of our own philosophy, when our reasoning breaks down, we will not have the available knowledge to know how to address the issue.

In 1961 in Birmingham, Alabama, there were many white persons who were fully aware that segregation was not only filled with error, but useless. Yet because alternative views were not allowed on the subject matter, we were forced to produce a bloody conclusion instead of an intelligent one.

I know what I think. But I also know I need to think.

In order for that to work, I must realize that the alternative values of today may very well become the mainstream thinking of tomorrow.


AARP, AAU, AAUP, AAVE

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

1. AARP: (abbr.) American Association of Retired Persons

2. AAU: (abbr.) Amateur Athletic Union

3. AAUP: (abbr) 1. American Association of University Presses 2. American Association of University Professors

4. AAVE (abbr.) African-American Vernacular English

If you don’t mind, I will take this series of initials to “initialize” my article for the day.

Seeing these four organizations lined up in the dictionary together really tickled my funny bone, because other than the dictionary throwing them together in alphabetical order, these four groups would not only be unaware of each other, but might be tempted to avoid contact.

It got me laughing. Wouldn’t you love to attend a party where a bunch of old people, aspiring athletes, college professors, reporters and hip-hop African-American rap stars got together to share the same pot of dip?

What a hoot!

I don’t think anybody would venture into that possibility, even for a mad-cap comedy. Too far out. But it IS the reason why fear and prejudice survive.

For instance, I was deathly afraid of a roller coaster until I sat in one. The theory and definition of a roller coaster bleached me white in apprehension. Likewise, being raised in a small town but far from rural America, I was absolutely petrified at the notion of being around barnyard animals. Pigs, cows, goats and sheep seemed like alien creatures out to suck my soul. And then, one day a friend of mine invited me out to the stables. Once I got used to the odor and learned how to carefully walk, I found the creatures to be quite domesticated, as long as you followed a few simple rules and honored their territory.

Bigotry is not the by-product of experience but rather, the lack of it.

Just think if the AARP, AAU, AAUP and AAVE got together somewhere OTHER than the dictionary. After the awkwardness wore off and the menu was reviewed for acceptability, conversation would naturally lend itself towards common goals and similar journey jaunts. It would end up being inspiring.

Segregation is not natural. Birds of a feather don’t really flock together, but actually tend to gather in promising trees near meadows filled with food sources.

It would just be so neat to see Grandma talking to some urban black man about her experience with blues music. Both of them would have to explore their resources and expand their boundaries. Meanwhile, the professor could amble up and explain the origins of both getting old AND the American ghetto. One of the athletes could be an anomaly … by being white.

Such a palette for colorful discourse.

So even though they only appear together in the dictionary, you would have to agree, our world would be better if these four actually did plan a meet, eat and eat. Yes, the world needs MEG’s–Meet, Eat and Greet.

It is only then that we will begin to birth a nation that has old, amateur athletes who are former professors that are completely well-acquainted with African-American vernacular.