Cloak-and-Dagger

Cloak-and-dagger: (adj) characteristic of mystery

I suppose if I saw someone walking toward me wearing a cloak, I might be curious enough about their fashion choice to wonder what they were hiding beneath the bulky garment. I’m not so sure I would assume it was a dagger–more likely twenty unwanted pounds.

But maybe it’s the same thing. Since we don’t live in a time when people are stabbing one another with stilettos over grievances, a redefining of “cloak-and-dagger” for our period might be in order.

I contend that the cloak-and-dagger of our generation is the hiding the real truth of our abilities behind self-promotion. And the dagger which follows is an inadequate performance, leaving our fellow-travelers unimpressed.

Then too often violence ensues.

Because we should never have claimed to be more than who we are, we are inevitably going to fail, which will make us defensive and therefore volatile.

What would happen if we stopped lying about our abilities?

What if we decided not to chase big dreams?

What if we judged our talent on the response to our performance rather than what we think the response should be “if people weren’t stupid?”

Our society is still menaced with the “cloak-and-dagger,” because unless we praise the misguided claims of those around us, they just might turn on us and stab us with whatever is available.

So let me be the first one to take my cloak off and cast aside my dagger. I will do my best to tell you of the gifts I have, mingled with my weaknesses. If you find additional flaws, I thank you for saving me from the embarrassment of humiliating over-assessment.

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Cede

Cede: (v) to give up power or territory

The fear of insignificance generates the arrogance of self-destruction.

Somewhere inside each of us is a terror that if we cede our ego or talents over to a common pot or competition, we will dissipate like a ghost
in the mist.

It’s the mixed message given by our educational system, which simultaneously insists that “hard work will produce a payday” but “self-promotion is better.”

It’s so easy to get confused. It’s very possible to lose sight of one’s soul in pursuit of gaining the whole world.

What can I afford to give up without feeling like I’m vanquished?

  1. I don’t have to be well-known if I’m known for doing well.
  2. It is much more important for me to be happy for what I do instead of being lauded for it.
  3. I am convinced that my meter of measuring my progress is much more sensitive than that of society–so as long as I am clicking my own goals, I do not need to be applauded by the masses.
  4. And finally, I can’t give up something I don’t really have. The delusion that we possess certain amounts of respect, power or position causes us to battle against forces that are not really fighting against us.

A great man once said that “he that would gain his life must lose it.” Even though initially this seems counter-intuitive, a second looks tells us that chasing a dream which is never meant to be is the certain way to destroy the beauty of heart’s desire.

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Barker

Barker: (n) a person who stands in front of a theater or sideshow and calls out to passersby to attract customers.Dictionary B

The two problems with self-promotion are that they contain a pair of dangerous concepts:

First, self. And second, promoting.

Combined, they create the nervous energy we all feel when people are thrusting themselves into the role of “barker,” to make us aware of what they consider to be a needful idea or product.

Basically, in our age most of the forms of communication are all about “barkers.”

Politics is full of barkers. Supposedly, the more you push, advertise, criticize and self-aggrandize, the better your chance to get a vote. No one stops to ask if this is actually true. It is a foregone conclusion by the pundits that if someone punches you, you should punch back, or if you remain silent too long or simply state your beliefs, you will be overthrown by the mass hysteria of those who generate a mob.

I was always a little uncomfortable with the idea of the evangelizing associated with Christianity. Because even though salvation is promised in the religious community, we first find ourselves barking at people, telling them how evil and destitute they are before we grant them the package of eternal life.

Of course, social media is nothing more than a bunch of technological barkers.

  • “Look at my beautiful this…”
  • “Check out my kid picking his nose, but in his case it’s cute…”
  • “I just got promoted and bought a new car, so don’t you see how much better my life is than your mediocre one?”

Is it possible to quietly succeed?

Is there a path that takes us to heaven without a marching band?

And is there a way to enrich the lives of your brothers and sisters in the world without startling them with your approach?

If there is, I will seek to find it.

And if it is not possible, I will still refrain from being a barker … and quietly walk away into gentle and blissful obscurity. 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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