Cult

Cult: (n) a group or sect bound together by one leader and/or ideals

Because I am not a person to hide my feelings and have been known to speak out against “Mom and apple pie,” some souls have become so angry at me that they insisted I was trying to start a cult.

It is perhaps the greatest insult we can give to another person:

“You are so focused, so welcoming to other people, and they like you so much that you must be a cult leader.”

I’ve never taken offense to this—mainly because I know I’m not.

How do I know?

  1. I’ve never gotten rich off anyone.
  2. Nobody has ever had to work to supply me with grits and gravy.
  3. I’ve never tried to limit the efforts and quality of others to make myself look superior.
  4. I closed my dungeon of torture decades ago.
  5. I’m not certain enough about what I believe to demand that other toe the line to it.
  6. If I had a cult, where are all the adoring women?
  7. In my life, people come and go. I’ve never held anybody at gunpoint to stay with me.

We should be careful what we say.

Because there are cults out there, and some of them are well-respected political parties and religious denominations.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cul-de-sac

Cul-de-sac: a street or lane closed at one end.

Because the traffic does not flow through, all the neighbors at the end of a cul-de-sac end up being fully aware of the life and times of the people around them, simply because they know—or certainly believe—that there’s little beyond them.

It seems to me to be a very dangerous thing—to try to turn our country into a cul-de-sac.

Is America a cul-de-sac, where we know our neighbors, we know their cars, we know their pets—so anyone who happens to turn down in our direction is either lost or an intruder?

How selfish can you be with the idea of freedom?

Every group of people—every nation or tribe that has contended they had superiority over the other inhabitants of Earth usually ended up vicious, arrogant and destroyed.

Do we really want to exist in a time when nostalgia rules our thoughts?

Where fear of the enemy makes more of them in our minds than there actually are?

Do we want to sit at the end of our American cul-de-sac, conversing on our porches, glaring at the travelers who happen to have turned down the road into our space, looking for freedom?

There’s something really bizarre about a cul-de-sac.

I’ve only lived on one, and I didn’t stay long enough to be part of the “chosen four”—those houses near the end that cluster and become intolerant about accepting any other.

Because if you believe you have a special thing that sets you apart, other groups may want to come and steal it from you and will become very angry when they realize that you never had anything worth killing for.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crumb

Crumb: (n) a small particle of bread, cake, etc., that has broken off.

Mrs. Venetti was old.

This is the nicest thing I can say about her.

She was sure of herself.

Having become so assured of her own perfection, she launched out, attempting to perfect the world around her.

I knew her because, for some reason or another, my parents insisted I call her “Aunt,” even though we were not related. (I later discovered that she had money and my parents were intrigued by it.)

So this woman, who had the answer for every problem and an extra problem or two available if you were lacking, quickly made the decision that she did not like me.

She had an organ in her home that I enjoyed playing–until she heard my rocking and rolling. She explained that the German technician who maintained it told her that my fingers were too fat and heavy and might damage it.

Organ-less.

Her house was perfect.

(What other kind of house would a perfect woman have?)

Only one time when I visited her (at the behest of my parents) did she offer me something to eat. It was a single cheese slice, wrapped in cellophane. Unfortunately, I peered at it too long before dismantling and eating it and she accused me of being ungrateful.

Cheese-less.

But she had a favorite word for me.

She loved to call me “crumb.”

She even had derivations.

Sometimes it was crumb.

Other times crummy.

When she was particularly perturbed, I was referred to as crumbum.

Along with the insult came a snarling at the lips, a look of superiority mingled with loveless pity. She always asked me to walk slowly through her house so as not to knock over knick-knacks with my heavy steps.

She was an unpleasant woman who had to be viewed as tolerable because she had money.

Although it’s been proclaimed that money can’t buy everything, the few things it doesn’t purchase don’t appear to be very popular.

She never liked me—and when I was young, it ate at the left corner of my soul, threatening to create a hole from which all my hope was prepared to drain.

Then one day, God—in his infinite wisdom and grace—gave this fat boy with chubby fingers and heavy feet a gift. Sitting in her living room, entertaining some friends, barely tolerating my presence, Mrs. Venetti suddenly farted.

And not only farted—she pooped her pants.

Everybody quickly rose to assist her, which increased her embarrassment, causing her to become livid, threatening everyone in sight.

I sat very still.

I knew I was going to need to laugh about this—but now was not the time. Yet I did not want to lose the reservoir of humor building up inside me.

So I remained motionless.

After everyone carefully lifted “Auntie” from her chair, which she had sullied, and taken her into the bathroom, I ran out the front door, down the street, around the corner…and laughed.

I did not do it very long because after a few moments, it seemed cruel.

But the first fifteen or sixteen cackles healed that left corner of my soul.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Constructive

Constructive: (adj) serving a useful purpose; tending to build up

Unfortunately, the word “criticism” seems to have been welded onto “constructive.”

Matter of fact, people frequently talk to me about constructive criticism–how powerful it was for them in honing up their project or beefing up their efforts.

I am not convinced.

So let me be the first one to say that these two words need to be disconnected from each other once and for all.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

There are things that are constructive and there are things that are critical. There is no such thing as constructive criticism.

If you’re trying to be constructive, there is no need to be critical.

And if the intention is to establish your value to another person by criticizing, be prepared: it is unlikely that this will have a constructive result.

You can feel free to have constructive remarks, constructive questions, constructive concerns–but once you enter the cave of criticism, you’ve already darkened yourself as an authority to whom others need to bow.

If you really want to be constructive, here are the three questions you should ask someone if you think what he or she is pursuing needs another point of view:

  1. What is it you are trying to achieve?
  2. This is what I got off of it. Is that all right?
  3. Is this what you were looking for?

You can ask these three questions any time, and unless someone is dealing with severe anger management issues, they will be responsive and listen.

But if you change this to “constructive criticism,” which, by the way, is merely altering the questions into statements–(for instance, “I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve,” “I didn’t get it” and “I don’t think other people will comprehend your message either”)–these statements are bruising.

You do not need to agree with me on this, but I contend that merely switching the statements to questions does not take away your power of input.

It merely removes your position of superiority.

 

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Con Man

Con man: (n) a man who cheats or tricks others by persuading them to believe something that is not true

Every once in a while I take a stroll through the Ten Commandments to take an inventory on how many I’ve broken.

That is one of the more ridiculous aspects of that top ten list–it does not serve as a guide to our lives, but rather, a reminder of how futile ourfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
attempts often are when we pursue self-righteousness or any form of superiority that makes us feel that we’re near to the heart of God.

For instance, I’ve been a con man.

I didn’t do it for a living. That’s probably good. Otherwise, I might be writing you from Folsom Prison, with the blues, or from Sing-Sing without a song.

But I have presented claims as facts, trying to impress people around me, when in actuality the legitimate information was far less than my boast.

Here’s the only difference between me and the standard con man: I actually believed my own bullshit.

I did.

I had thoroughly saturated myself in fictitious notions that twisted my brain to such an extent that they squeezed out common sense and replaced them with Thanksgiving stuffing.

So not only was I a con man to those around me, but I did a remarkable job promoting it to myself.

This is why self-awareness is probably one of the greatest virtues that a human being can pursue–it makes you stop off every once in a while and read the Ten Commandments and realize how far you have fallen short–as you chuckle over your own inadequacy.

 

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Compassion

Compassion: (n) sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

There has to be some suffering brought on by misfortune before concern is expressed–otherwise, there’s a danger of casting your pearls before pigs.

What we often refer to as compassion is really pity. And pity is an emotion that does no good for either side.

Those who are pitied are weakened, and those who pity feel too much superiority for it to be of much personal good.

It reminds me of a snowy day when I saw a little boy trying to climb a hill with a bag full of groceries. He looked to be about eleven years old, and try as he might,funny wisdom on words that begin with a C every time he climbed the hill, he slipped, and slid back down, spilling the groceries. He patiently put the items back into the bag and tried to ascend again.

This happened four–no, five times.

It was on the fourth time that I noted his determination, even though there were the beginning signs of exasperation, as he punched his fist into the snow upon rising.

I did not intervene at first. I waited to see if he would persevere. I paused to give him a chance to succeed.

I let him struggle.

Then I went out and assisted him, and we made it up the hill together, slipping and sliding.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life by thinking I was being compassionate to people who just did not feel it was necessary for them to put forth effort. I was always left holding the bag, feeling great disappointment.

Compassion occurs when you realize people have tried almost everything they could think of to solve their problem, are still pursuing it and could sure use encouragement and a helping hand.

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Compare

Compare: (v) to estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity between.

During a very brief stint of working in the motelier industry, I ran across a gentleman who owned an establishment, and took me on a journey of his array of available rooms.

Every time he entered one of the bathrooms, he took a deep, long, sniffing breath. I decided to ask him what he was trying to smell.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

He turned to me sternly, peering into my eyes, and said, “The beginnings of mold.”

Yes, this fellow was completely convinced that long before the mold showed up in the bathroom tile, it could be sniffed out, tracked down and destroyed.

I had no reason to argue with the man–even if he was wrong, a good dousing of the tiles in bleach every once in a while is a capital idea.

But I must be honest with you–even though I can’t tell mold from gold, I do have a nose for the beginnings of bigotry.

And long before it becomes prejudice which has lost control, it pops its little head up with the word “compare.”

As human beings, once we allow ourselves to compare what we do to what other people do, it is safe to say that we will rarely consider their approach to be better than ours.

So in attempting to establish our refinement–or should the word be “superiority?”–we somehow or another have to sully or taint other renditions.

As people sit on panels and compare one race to another, one country to another, one gender to another or one religion to another, they feel so goddamn intelligent–never realizing they often have the sniff of social mold.

 

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