Chariot

Chariot: (n) a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient warfare and racing.

“Negro spiritual. “

It’s not exactly an oxymoron, but within the two words there seems to be a contradiction of purpose.

After all, if you were a Negro, you might find it difficult to be spiritual to those who decided to know you only by that term.

Yet a race of people who were beaten, subjugated, raped and sometimes nearly starved managed to get around a fire late at night when their persecutors had retired to the Big House, and come up with songs which we now display in our religious catalogues today.

  • “Let My People Go”
  • “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
  • And of course, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Even though the songs are melodic, harmonic and perhaps even rhythmic, they all carry a central theme: “Dear God, I hope they stop beating me and if they won’t, I hope you kill me soon.”

You can be sympathetic to their plight.

“Swing low, sweet chariot,

Comin’ for to carry me home…”

A pretty simple passage: “Since there’s no solution here on Earth, since the Massa has the whip and since my family can be sold at a moment’s notice, maybe it would be wise to begin Eternity really soon.”

Negro spiritual–a music that tells us where people find solace when other humans abandon and mistreat them.

It is soulful, it is seeking and it is sad.

I can’t listen to the song about the chariot without realizing that my ancestors made the singer want to die.

 

 

 

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Certifiable

Certifiable: (adj) able or needing to be certified.

“You certainly are a good dad. I can tell by your sons.”

Or maybe they just decided to become nice people to spite me. Perhaps they saw what an ass I was and chose a different path.

We are guilty of taking credit for what is not our effort–and if it is our effort, we know deep in our hearts that we truly never pulled it off.

Another lady asked me if I was a good writer. You see, she wants me to be certifiable. She wants some reputable organization, publisher or book club to ratify my claim to authorship.

It seems you can do almost anything in this country as long as you can get two other people to vouch for you.

Yet I seem to recall a childhood memory of a statement: “The proof is in the pudding.”

I don’t know what pudding has to do with it, but the true proof of whether something is worthy of honor is not in the number of certificates or awards it receives.

Because of that, none of us will ever hear the best singer, read the best writer or have the privilege of being governed by the best President.

The process of becoming certifiable is just too insane.

 

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Bum

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Bum: (n) a vagrant.

Yesterday, I once again heard the word.

It sent a chill down my spine.

I was situated next to a lady on the curb, and a gentleman walked by who obviously was not on his best streak of luck. As he disappeared in the distance, she turned to me and said, in her meanest, most nefarious tone, “Bum.”

I paused.

Actually, I found myself in the middle of a flash-back–because in the early years of my life, when I aspired to be a writer, musician, singer, or something of that sort, I ferociously ran away from the workaday world, having a great fear in my soul that once I got my first paycheck, I would never be able to wiggle myself out of the commitment.

In the process of trying to be something that nobody else thought I had the right to be, I got called “bum” a lot–even by family members. It never ceased to sting.

I pretended it didn’t bother me–but there was something really coarse and evil about having other human beings judge me solely on whether I was solvent by their standards.

So even though I should have responded more quickly to the lady, at length I said, “You never know. Maybe someday that young man you just called a bum will write fourteen books, have three daily blogs, thirteen screenplays and travel all across the United States, trying to bring common sense and love to the world.”

She stared at me with a quizzical look and then replied, “Ain’t no way.”

I just smiled.

Way.

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Arbitrary

dictionary with letter A

Arbitrary: (adj) based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

When everything is considered important, nothing truly has value.

Half the time I don’t know whether to burst out laughing or cry as I watch the entanglement of emotions in our society, giving place to things, feelings and problems that really just don’t matter.

I am going to give you a list of those things which I find to be arbitrary, and therefore annoying and useless, generating a traffic jams in our human flow:

1. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat. Pass a damn law.

2. I do not care that Kim Kardashian has a large butt. Perhaps some of it should be transferred to her cranium.

3. I do not care, on The Voice, if you have a family, children, a mother with cancer or are going through a financial hard time. I thought you wanted to be a singer, not a hard case. Shut up and sing.

4. I do not care about church doctrine. I want you to tell me better ways to “love my neighbor as myself.”

5. I certainly am appalled at the views some folks have of women, using religion to punish them, which creates a self-defeating environment where you soon will have nobody to romance.

6. I do not care to hear about every time a celebrity is in a bad mood. After all, since they have financial security, they should probably pursue a traditional form of gratitude to rectify their surly nature.

7. I don’t care if you’re black, white, red, yellow, brown, tan, rose, pink or any particular hue. I would just like you to be nicer.

8. I would like people who are caught in hypocrisy to admit that they were hit by a dumb stick instead of hitting me with a stick and acting like I am dumb for challenging them.

9. I would like to live in a world where truth is still honored and lying is considered to be a negative thing instead of a “natural” thing.

10. I would like the 24-hour news cycle to at least take a daily nap so they don’t have to embellish every little stupid thing that comes along.

And even though I am supposed to end at #10, I will do an 11th, which is:

11. I am tired of the spiritual, political and social correctness which promises the right of free speech, but only as long as you agree with the majority.

If we remain determined to make everything a story … there will soon be no true stories to tell.

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Ably

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Ably: adv. skillfully, competently.

So I was sitting over breakfast talking with my dear friend about accomplishment. Suddenly a thought popped out of my mouth and rang with such clarity and truth that I was convinced I had been temporarily possessed by an angelic intelligence. Since that doesn’t happen very often, I thought I would mark the occasion by sharing it with you:

You can never learn how capable you are until you confess all of your incapabilities.

I guess the first step to that is removing the fear of being inadequate in some maneuver. If you don’t do that, or you will never have the gumption to uncover your incapabilities so that your capabilities have a chance to breathe and dance around.

I realized that all human beings live in a fleshly house and spend all of their time hoarding. We want to be the BEST at EVERYTHING–so we collect every accolade that might confirm our proclamation of superiority, and we stack them in the closet, until we are so surrounded by false praise that we really can’t move around and do anything.

  • Do you really need to be the BEST lover to enjoy the process?
  • Do you have to be the BEST writer to be read and appreciated?
  • Do you have to have the BEST time at the NFL Combine to believe that you’re a good enough athlete to play on Sundays?
  • Do you have to be the BEST singer to raise your voice in song?

Capability is never freed up to express itself until it is unencumbered by unacknowledged incapability.

Ably–what a great word. I don’t have to do everything ably. That’s why I have brothers and sisters.

But when I am blessed man and discover something that I CAN do ably, let me thrust it to the forefront and see if I can’t make this earth more habitable.