Common Ground

Common ground: (n) a basis of mutual interest or agreement.

I do believe the quote is attributed to Sting, lead singer of “The Police.”

When explaining his tour into the Soviet Union, in one of his lyrics he offered the conclusion that “Russians love their children, too.”

It is so easy to sit on the precipice of destruction and discuss, like naughty brats, how much more our destructive weapons could kill your people than yours could destroy ours.

But in the long run, or in the short time it takes for a bomb to explode, people are dead–and most all of them look somewhat like us.

Anything that comes along to encourage the destruction of the planet, the deception of racism, the alienation of the genders or the false pride of a culture is the feeding frenzy for us pursuing the insanity of gobbling one another up in our social cannibalism.

Every single day, in every single way, in every single building where decisions are made about human life, three things have to be honored:

  1. Flesh may have color, but it is all basically the same.
  2. If people were created, they have one Father.
  3. We have not perfected a way to snatch life from death.

Slow down.

This is called common ground.

Everything else is just a silly argument among children about who can jump the highest, and who owns the shiniest bike.

 

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Commie

Commie:(n) a communist

Growing up, there were three great insults we used repeatedly to decimate the character of those around us, while greatly inflating our own sense of self-importance: retard, gay and Commie

Although they were often used interchangeably for all seasons and all reasons, there were specific times when “retard” was applied. Whenever anyone did anything that inconvenienced us he or she was a retard.

When anyone did anything the least bit unusual, and we were afraid they would ask us to do it, too, they were gay.

And when our parents told us that certain children had mothers and fathers who were questionable in their politics–well, those kids were Commies.

You could probably survive being a retard, as long as you didn’t get too upset.

You could flee from being gay.

But once you were identified as a Commie–an enemy of the state–a Ruskie–a member of the Soviet Union–a sympathizer with killers–well, it was just a little hard to shake that off.

I remember once when two friends and I refused to listen to a girl who came to school wearing jeans and a t-shirt (which was unheard of at the time) and spouted opinions on such things as ecology, civil rights, and even, God forbid, anti-war. She was especially upset with the war in Viet Nam.

In our freshman year, we had one view of this girl–but by the time we were seniors, the national opinion on civil rights had changed, ecology had been honored by the creation of Earth Day, and because of the Pentagon Papers, the Viet Nam War had been exposed as an unnecessary exercise in futility.

We were uncomfortable about it. The Commie had been proven correct.

So to compensate, we just started calling her gay.

 

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Arsenal

Arsenal: (n) a collection of weapons and military equipment stored by a country, person, or group.dictionary with letter A

Growing up in an America which was so frightened of the Soviet Union that we produced enough atomic arsenal to destroy the world many times over, I was confused as to whether to wave my flag in glory over our prowess, or bow my head in prayer that we would never use it.

I guess I’m a little bewildered by the idea of an arsenal.

When people explain that they like to own a gun for protection or because they enjoy hunting, I nod my head because that seems logical–if not to me, then to them. But when people start storing up weapons and building up a cache of killing instruments, I wonder exactly what they believe their everyday lives should be.

An arsenal of anything is an admission that “I need to have more than enough” to scare or intimidate the world around me.

I don’t know if I can love people if I’m trying to be scary or if I find them to be threatening. And if I don’t love people, am I just looking for an opportunity to crack open my arsenal and let the bullets fly?

It is confusing, isn’t it?

I’m not trying to tell you I have an answer on the question. I can only select a pattern of behavior that suits my soul.

I don’t keep an arsenal of anything…simply because I believe a certain amount of faith is necessary to be pleasing.

 

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Armaments

dictionary with letter A

Armament: (n) Military weapons and equipment. 

Do you realize that there are people in the world who get up every morning and go to work to try to come up with new ideas for weapons that are bigger and meaner than the ones we’ve already manufactured?

I don’t want to be self-righteous, but it’s certainly not a job I would want to pursue.

After all, once you’ve discovered an implement that’s capable of killing someone, doing it more effectively or with double power seems to be…well, over-kill.

There was a point in the 1960’s when both the U.S. and the Soviet Union touted that each was able to destroy the world ten times over through nuclear weapons.

Did they really intend on procuring nine other planets?

Or was this just little boys on the playground boasting on how far they could spit?

As long as we have a military budget which is built on discovering more creative ways to be destructive rather than maintaining an existing prowess that encourages peace, I think we may be guilty of some misappropriation of funds.

Armaments scare me. It’s not because I’m afraid to die.

It’s just because I don’t like to discuss modes of death… before I get there.

 

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Annex

dictionary with letter A

Annex: (v) to add to one’s own, especially as relating to property or land: Ex. Moldova was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.

You have to watch words. They’re tricky, especially when uttered from the tongues of deceivers.

Often in an effort to disguise greed, selfishness or oblivion, we use language that is vicious at its heart, but drenched in a bit of honey. Or maybe it’s not vicious at all–just misleading.

  • Can I borrow a Kleenex?
  • I don’t mean to be critical, but…
  • You know me–I like to get along…
  • Does anybody else think that Bob is …?
  • It’s just the way we do things over here…
  • It may be old-fashioned but I still think…
  • I believe women want to stay at home…
  • I’ve always found men to be stupid. How about you?
  • I think the races don’t want to mix. Birds of a feather, you know…

These and many other statements are spoken daily by people trying to hide their real intentions, while annexing huge portions of human dignity, feelings and righteous freedom.

Hitler annexed part of Austria. He called it an annexation instead of an invasion. If somebody had questioned his use of the word, who knows? We might have avoided a world war.

So even though I occasionally make people angry by insisting they use the proper term for their actions instead of “annexing” different terminology to clean up their actual motivations, I believe I will continue to do so, and perhaps by pursuing such a noble adventure … stop a war or two myself.

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Afghanistan

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Afghanistan: a mountainous, landlocked republic in central Asia, pop. 16,600,000. Capital, Kabul; official languages, Pashto and Dari

We were enraged. (Well, at least involved in an aggressive pout.)

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980, the US took a stand against such aggression, and even boycotted the Olympics in Moscow to express our displeasure.

Equally displeased with the invasion were the Afghans.

But what the Soviet Union did not understand, with all of its blustering bombing and Bolshevism, is that the people of Afghanistan are very adept at being invaded and repelling all would-be conquorers with both resolve and their terrain–which is extremely unfriendly to foreigners.

So candidly, when the United States came up with the notion of invading Afghanistan following the 9/11 tragedy, I was a bit startled and nervous about the conclusions. Of courrse, there was a certain amount of necessary chest-thumping which follows the atrocity of murdering three thousand American citizens on our own soil.

But history does not particularly care whether our cause is noble. It demands respect and observance.

So even though we thought we were more skilled at military causes than the lumbering Soviet Union, we found that our mission into Afghanistan was equally as frustrating, intimidating and foreboding. There are some things that shouldn’t be done because they can’t be done.

It is difficult to understand this particular axiom when we are engorged with patriotism and fueled by rage. It would have been much better to send in twenty specially trained platoons to locate Osama bin Laden and then extract them as quickly as possible when the mission either succeeded or failed.

Foot soldiers on the ground demand a footing, which Afghanistan does not adequately provide.

  • Did we learn?
  • Will we understand that justice and retribution are rarely the same thing?
  • Will we comprehend that people who are constantly invaded become more suited to repelling invaders?

I don’t know–but it is difficult to believe that Afghanistan is any better off today than it was when the American flag was first unfurled on its borders.

(And remember, it is not unpatriotic to question the actions of your nation. It is actually our patriotic duty to find better and more enlightened paths.)

 

 

Affront

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Afghanistan: a mountainous, landlocked republic in central Asia, pop. 16,600,000. Capital, Kabul; official languages, Pashto and Dari

We were enraged. (Well, at least involved in an aggressive pout.)

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980, the US took a stand against such aggression, and even boycotted the Olympics in Moscow to express our displeasure.

Equally displeased with the invasion were the Afghans.

But what the Soviet Union did not understand, with all of its blustering bombing and Bolshevism, is that the people of Afghanistan are very adept at being invaded and repelling all would-be conquorers with both resolve and their terrain–which is extremely unfriendly to foreigners.

So candidly, when the United States came up with the notion of invading Afghanistan following the 9/11 tragedy, I was a bit startled and nervous about the conclusions. Of courrse, there was a certain amount of necessary chest-thumping which follows the atrocity of murdering three thousand American citizens on our own soil.

But history does not particularly care whether our cause is noble. It demands respect and observance.

So even though we thought we were more skilled at military causes than the lumbering Soviet Union, we found that our mission into Afghanistan was equally as frustrating, intimidating and foreboding. There are some things that shouldn’t be done because they can’t be done.

It is difficult to understand this particular axiom when we are engorged with patriotism and fueled by rage. It would have been much better to send in twenty specially trained platoons to locate Osama bin Laden and then extract them as quickly as possible when the mission either succeeded or failed.

Foot soldiers on the ground demand a footing, which Afghanistan does not adequately provide.

  • Did we learn?
  • Will we understand that justice and retribution are rarely the same thing?
  • Will we comprehend that people who are constantly invaded become more suited to repelling invaders?

I don’t know–but it is difficult to believe that Afghanistan is any better off today than it was when the American flag was first unfurled on its borders.

(And remember, it is not unpatriotic to question the actions of your nation. It is actually our patriotic duty to find better and more enlightened paths.)

 

A-bomb

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

A-bomb: n. short for Atom Bomb.

I was able to duck but not cover.

When they tried to teach our second-grade class what to do in case of an atomic bomb landing somewhere near our school yard, the huskiness of my being permitted me to duck, as required, but I was unable to get UNDER my desk, to cover. My little second-grade desk was unwilling to provide shelter for my large self.

It was rather embarrassing. Matter of fact, my friends, who loved me, were nearly moved to tears, realizing that they would have to continue their school life after the bomb cleared away, with me destroyed by being uncovered. They were SO overwrought that I started to cry, because I did not want to have an atomic bomb eating away at my body, butt first.

It was very real to my eight-year-old mind. Of course, no one explained to us that an atomic bomb had little respect for a small wooden desks, and would not honor them as adequate defense.

But since none of us really knew what an A-bomb was, we were only concerned about our part and responsibility of ducking and covering, which I was only prepared to fulfill half-heartedly.

It was a strange time. And it was a bizarre notion–to think that at any moment the world as you knew it could disintegrate and burn up like onion skin paper in a hot fire, simply because some nation was crazy enough to believe they could conquer someone by disintegrating their environment.

I was so distraught after finding out that I was unable to cover beneath my little desk that my teacher went out into the storage building and found a larger desk for me, which would accommodate the full extent of my duck, as I covered.

I was moved.

The entire class was relieved, and somewhere deep in my heart, I believed that the Soviet Union found out that we had once again foiled their plans by discovering a way to protect ALL of our citizenry–by acquiring larger furniture.

This is my experience with the A-bomb.

Fortunately, I have never had to implement this particular safety procedure, although occasionally, just for old times sake and fun, I will duck.

Abakan

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAbakan: an industrial city in south central Russia, capital of the republic of Kaskaskia, population 154,000.

For me, it was my grandfather’s root cellar. Now, if you don’t know what a root cellar is, it is an unfinished basement in an old farmhouse where they used to keep potatoes and various produce to make it last longer before rotting.

It was a scary place. It had stone steps that wound around a corner into the darkness, and as a child I was frightened to death to even open the door and look within. Matter of fact, my Grandpa died and the house was sold before I ever worked up the courage to know what was around the bend in the darkness.

Likewise, being raised in America during the time of the Cold War, I have much the same feeling about Russia. It is my geopolitical root cellar.  When you mention ANYTHING in Russia–like Abakan–I immediately get visions of the Soviet Union with wild-eyed, crazed Cossacks, hunching over big, red buttons, trying to decide whether today is the day that they will murder the imperialist Americans.

Now, I now know this isn’t true. I am a fairly sophisticated, intelligent person who has read a newspaper or two, and has even occasionally perused a news magazine. I understand that Russia is not out to get James Bond, nor is it trying to murder young children–or for that matter, brainwash us through socialist media to become communists ourselves.

But still, there is a chill that goes down my spine when I hear the word “Russia.”

I feel ashamed. I think it’s time for me to give my own version of “To Russia, With Love.” But I am reluctant. I still fear that around the corner there is a dark place lurking to swallow young boys who shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Aren’t we all silly? But after all, silliness is often just belief that has not yet been exposed.