Census

Census: (n) an official count or survey of a population

Every census is shortly thereafter followed by a tax. This began with Caesar Augustus in the Christmas story and continues today.

We want to find out how many people there are so we have some idea on how we should divide up the horrific amount of expense that’s involved in the process of us being people.

It’s a fussy way of reminding small towns that they’re shrinking and becoming less important.

The government can also determine where to send its money, and where the census tells them there aren’t as many voters, so no need to be nice.

It begins at an early age, when you plan a party at your house. The following Monday morning, after the party, the normal question is, how many people showed up?

Did you do a head count? Was the party successful because people had nothing else to do so they came to it?

No one asks if the chip dip turned out tasty. What flavors of pizza did you select? Was the discussion lively?

No. It all has to do with numbers.

We are a society obsessed with proving the value of our concept by collecting statistics on how many people are aware that we had a concept in the first place. We fear obscurity.

Yet no one enters the tomb with a companion–no census in the grave.

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Bluster

Bluster: (n) loud, aggressive, or indignant talk with little effect.

Dictionary B

I believe the goal is to acquire interest.

Whether you’re trying to sell a new car, preach the gospel, gain the attention of the opposite sex or get someone’s vote, the possibility is impaired if you cannot acquire interest.

How do you get people interested?

Amazingly, after everything is boiled down, you’re left with the remainder of the expressions in human life. You end up with fear and love.

They do not get along with each other. Love chases away fear, and fear, likewise, scares the hell out of love.

Therefore, since we are insecure about the notion of creating devotion through emotion, we often resort to the tactic of frightening those around us into submitting to our will.

We bluster.

We find obscure statistics, isolated incidents and horrific anomalies, and advertise them as if they are the norm.

In the process, the car dealer has to convince you that your vehicle is ready to explode. The preacher talks about the heat and humidity in hell, the dating service on the Internet tries to present you as a loser if you’re spending a Saturday night alone, and of course, every candidate wants to discuss “a planet ablaze,” which he or she alone can save.

Although bluster has become acceptable, it is damnable because it pushes fear to the forefront, terrifying our love.

 

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Billion

Billion:(n) one-thousand million.

Dictionary B

I certainly feel that one of the signs of aging is beginning to pine for former times, “when things were better.”

Matter of fact, if one could avoid that nostalgia, he or she could always appear to be contemporary, therefore potentially more youthful.

But somewhere along the line, a little grump appears in the stump speech.

  • You start recalling when candy bars had more nuts in them.
  • Or Coca-Cola cost a mere fraction of what it does now.

I heard one old fellow heave a huge sigh and explain that loaves of bread used to have twenty-three slices, and now a mere nineteen. (Who has time to count bread??)

I avoid this kind of activity like the true plague it is. It is certainly the moss growing on a crumbling tombstone.

Yet…I do have to admit that I am curious about when a million dollars stopped being a lot of money.

Matter of fact, the show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” might just evoke the response from the common man, “It’s a good place to start…”

I believe this was all caused by the introduction of the word “billion.”

I remember as a kid, “billion” was something you said when referring to an idea existing somewhere beyond the stars. Matter of fact, when you said it, you’d giggle.

“Maybe we could get a billion of ’em! Ha-ha-ha.”

Now we spend a billion dollars on toothpicks in the mess hall on army bases. (Don’t hold me to that stat. I’m just attempting irony.)

We even have people who are billionaires.

This isn’t right.

I don’t mind people having money; I just don’t know if you need a billion of it.

Somewhere along the line, to cease the insane greed for more and more material goods, we have to calm down the language of covetousness.

We need to teach our children the simplicity of enjoying five dollars because they fully understand … the complexity of earning it.

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Bellyache

Bellyache: (v) to complain noisily or persistently.

Dictionary B

When does comparing become complaining?

When does musing over better ideas turn into lamentation over our lack?

When do we find ourselves bellyaching concerning the tenuous nature of the human race instead of uplifting our species to find the Kingdom of God within us?

I think it all depends on whether we lose our sense of humor.

The minute we feel it is our mission to discuss humanity and the failing conditions of our race in serious terms or with statistics and facts, we are in danger of turning into the kind of intellectual snobs which we normally disdain.

  • With every suggestion must come a hope.
  • Every criticism requires a door of escape.
  • And when we address the creation of Eden–man and woman–we need to afford them the respect given by their Creator, who looked down on them in their total nakedness … and thought it was all good.

 

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Bauble

Bauble: (n) a small, showy trinket or decoration.Dictionary B

Conflicting opinions not only create conflict, they often permanently stall progress in favor of those conflicted getting along.

Because of this, we are never quite sure whether we have arrived at any sense of reason or compromise which has thrust the human race forward.

This is why we’re so enamored with baubles.

They are the little confirmations, given significance, which make us feel we are doing well.

  • After all, what would a contest be without certificates of participation?
  • Can we have a competition without a trophy?
  • And I do believe that most athletes would quit if statistics about their accomplishments were not being jotted down in a book somewhere.

Why do we need a bauble to dangle from our tree of life to confirm that we are well decorated?

It would be much more intelligent for the human race to pursue things that are fruitful instead of merely awarded.

I, for one, would love to see the entertainment industry allow their movies to be judged by the common man and woman instead of being lauded with praise by the elite before they’re even released to theaters.

Would we end up with different choices? God forbid, would the masses deem a Disney flick about penguins more popular than an avant garde project about a female dancer who secretly believes she’s a penguin?

Baubles are often the trinkets that convince us of truths that are not necessarily in evidence. Yet we will always pursue them … because we are captivated by things that sparkle.

 

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Agoraphobia

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgoraphobia: (n) extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places.

I think I have claustrophobia.

I didn’t used to–even though the brief time that I played football, I didn’t particularly care for pileups, where people would be on top of me.

But agoraphobia‘s different. Within the spectrum of being frightened of experiencing a lack of room and oxygen is also a fear of people. Matter of fact, we start it pretty young, don’t we?

  • We tell our children not to talk to strangers.
  • Within the first few years of their lives, we cloister them in an atmosphere with no more than five to seven people, making a trip to the grocery store seem like a perilous journey through the jungle.
  • We coddle our offspring and project our apprehension into them upon entering school–so much so that many of them do not recover from their agonizing trepidation of interacting with people their own age. They can become misfits.

I guess what concerns me is that a little bit of agoraphobia is inhabiting everybody in this country. Statistics tell me that about 34% of the people who walk down the street holding a phone are pretending they have a phone call, so as to not have to interact with others.

Not only is it annoying to text when other people are around, but it may leave you totally debilitated and vacant of the desire to be close.

I admit, it can be frightening to make eye contact with other humans, but the absence of that gesture of openness neither alleviates danger nor promotes congeniality.

There are probably people who suffer from this condition, but I do think we are changing the definition of the word “fellowship” in our society. It is now a keystroke on Facebook, with twenty-four characters expressing how handsome we think some child is or how pretty a new little dress may be. In fact, my oldest son told me that Facebook is the new church of America. He said it with certainty and a bit of resignation.

If it’s a church, I’m curious about where God is, where love is, where hope is and where faith can grow. Because to merely admire someone’s new bowling ball is not to strike up a new friendship.

I know I’ve veered off the subject a bit, and perhaps the condition of “agoraphobia” is a worthy topic for a writer and thinker much brighter than myself.

But I do believe we can avoid becoming frightened of each other by choice. To do so, we will have to come away from our computer screens, our smart phones and actually look into each other’s eyes again … and risk what we see.

Accuracy

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dictionary with letter A

Accuracy: (n.) the quality or state of being correct or precise.

There they go again! The dictionary makes the assumption that “correct” and “precise” are the same. They aren’t. Because in defending the accuracy of my statements, I can often prove that something is correct and yet completely avoid precision. In other words, once I cross the fifty percent point on correct, I can prove it’s true, even though 49% of what I represent is not true–and therefore not exactly honest.

This happens so much that we have a series of phrases for it:

  • little white lies
  • promo talk
  • political speech
  • disinformation
  • embellishment
  • padding your resume

It has become so much a part of our society that the word “accuracy” tends to bring a smile of cynicism to the universal lips of every American hearer. After all, nowadays everyone brings their own statistics to prove their point, to convince you of their accuracy, when the other side of the coin flips over with contradictory numbers, which are supposed to be equally valid.

It has given me pause.

There are many things in my life which I’ve lied about, which at the time of speaking, I would have insisted were accurate, but not precise. In other words, there was a story behind each and every proclamation to give credence to the idea–if you understood my reasoning in the first place.

We hate accuracy because deep in our hearts, we are all ashamed of where we are. When we were younger, we had great aspirations and set out on a journey to achieve them, only to run out of funds in Buffalo on our way to New York City. So we sit in Buffalo and try to pretend that we’re still heading for New York  City–or that we’ve already been there–or that Buffalo has become our New York City.

You know what the problem with such inaccuracy is? A deceiver is the most deceived person in the room. Why? Because he or she knows the real truth. The rest of the people present are only guessing.

Yes, the worst victim of lying is the liar. He or she knows that the truth was available when the audience listening is stuck with the story presented.

I don’t know if I’m completely cured of promo talk, embellishment, disinformation and the like. I’m sure in a pinch I will squirm and come up with some sort of representation of my truth which is more pleasing to the ears of those who surround me. But as I’ve tried to become a more accurate person–precise on the details–I have discovered that most folks don’t really care one way or another, but they would certainly like to trust my portion of the truth for which I am responsible.

Remember–the boy who cried wolf ended up getting eaten by his previous lies. Why? Because nobody came. If you lie enough, people expect you to lie, so even when you come up with something important, which comes from a place of quality, no one is listening.

So here’s to accuracy, which is the pursuit of “precise” minus the ambiguity of “correct”–because being politically correct is only good if you’re looking for votes. If you’re looking for friends or the favor of God, you have to go one step further.