Confederacy

Confederacy: (n) the Confederate states

As I sit quietly, my mind sometimes conjures the memory of something really dumb I have done. I am most comfortable when that piece of idiocy is well in my past.

But it is important, when that nasty memory comes to the forefront, that I own it, regret it and establish how ridiculous it was and how it mustfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
never be done again.

It’s part of being human.

Rationalizing all of our activities and granting them license immediately turns us into assholes.

Assholes, in this instance, are people who think they do not have elements in their past that need to be remembered with shame.

There was a time in this great nation when we denied our creed of the equality of all mankind and decided it was all right to own people as long as their skin was black. So intensely were we deceived that we were willing to go to the battlefield, bleed and die as feuding brothers.

A Confederacy challenged our Union.

It was shameful–a frightening part of our past.Yet it is a chapter of the book we call America.

We have two responsibilities:

  1. Don’t deny it happened
  2. Offer the necessary regret and shame required to eradicate it from happening again by eliminating all the prejudice that brought about such foolishness.

 

 

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Centrist

Centrist: (n) a person who holds moderate political views.

I see your point.

I see his point.

I see her point.

Ain’t I neat?

Not necessarily. A certain amount of diplomacy is demanded to make for good politics. But often, life requires a definitive choice. Otherwise, heinous results will
be endured.

Henry Clay is the most famous centrist of all time. Matter of fact, he was given the name, “The Great Compromiser.”

All during his time of being the senator from Kentucky, he fought to keep the Union together by being a centrist on the issue of slavery. He proudly took the Quakers and abolitionists on one side, and the plantation and slave owners from Dixie on the other side, and sat them down to come up with a way to continue slavery while also guaranteeing that certain states in the Union would be slave free.

In doing so, he ended up stealing the freedom of more black men, women and children than any other person in the United States.

A Civil War that should have been fought twenty years earlier was further enraged by years and years of unrelenting and unfulfilling compromise.

Sometimes there is no centrist position.

There is no arena for the propagation of the idea that “all men are kind of created equal.”

There’s no room for “freedom of most speech.”

And there is no possibility that rights are only given to those who presently have enough lawyers to wrangle them.

Henry Clay was a centrist. Because he kept us from dealing with a national tragedy, he will always be known as the person who managed to delay the inevitable Civil War that killed hundreds of thousands.

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British

j-r-practix-with-border-2

British: (adj) of or relating to Great Britain or the United Kingdom

A sense of doom hangs in the air whenever people discuss the Israelis and the Palestinians.Dictionary B

Because they have fought for so long–argued, battled and killed each other–we’re totally and completely convinced that any attempts at arbitration are futile.

I guess I would have a tendency to go along with this perspective, until I consider the relationship between the British and the United States.

Let’s look at it as a panorama:

The British were in charge of the Colonies, and the Colonies, in turn, were so loyal to the King that they fought for him in the French and Indian War.

But it was less than two decades later that the British and the Colonists were at each other’s throats over issues of freedom, taxation without representation and independence.

For seven-and-a-half long years, they struggled with each other, hatefully. And even when the Revolutionary War was over, the British Navy continued to conscript American sailors, claiming that they were really English citizens.

This led to another war.

This time the British burned down Washington, D.C., destroying the White House. So great was the hatred between the two nations that they actually fought the last battle of the War of 1812 in New Orleans after the peace treaty had already been signed. (No instant messaging.)

On top of that, the British government considered entering our Civil War–siding with the Confederacy against the Union. They didn’t do it, but it was touch and go.

So how did we go from this ferocious animosity to being allies in World War II, overthrowing Hitler?

Here’s the truth: we found a common enemy that was more necessary to defeat than maintaining our feud.

Is it possible that the Palestinians and the Israelis could find a common enemy to unite them, and in the process give them the chance to fight side-by-side instead of face-to-face?

I don’t know.

But we human beings are much more likely to unite for a fight than to see and agree.

 

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Asunder

Asunder: (adv) apart, divideddictionary with letter A

In 1861, South Carolina seceded from the Union.

They quit on the idea of being part of the great American dream. The threat had been in the air for many decades.

You can feel free to speculate on what caused this breach. Some people insist it was states’ rights being violated by the federal government. Others will tell you the country was torn asunder by the issue of slavery.

I find the debate to be irrelevant–because even though a war was fought, which cost the lives of more than a million American citizens, what brought this democracy to the brink of destruction is still lurking.

Even though we insist that we are “the United States of America,” our lack of definition and unity on freedom, equality and justice continues to tear us asunder.

We ridiculously talk about “red states” and “blue states” like it’s some sort of game, when actually, a more intelligent glance at the divisions of those states gives you virtually the same map that was present during the Civil War.

When you count the states that were sympathetic to the Southern cause, the red states pretty well reflect the once-organized Confederacy. Likewise, the blue states comprise the Union.

Even though we believe in the power of debate and controversy in this country, we must understand that open wounds continue to seep viral puss, and also are susceptible to further infection.

There are certain things we need to agree upon to keep from destroying our royal decree.

We must define three words, and we must come to agreement on them, or we will continue to debate what should never be questioned:

  • Freedom
  • Justice
  • Liberty

And may this humble essayist offer a possible starting ground for the clearing house of understanding.

Freedom: I possess no freedom if you do not possess the same freedom.

Justice: Every person is given an equal interpretation under the law, without prejudice regarding any of his or her choices.

Liberty: We are granted the license to pursue our dreams as long as they do not injure or interfere in the dreams of others.

The reason these definitions are rarely accepted is because they do not always submit to religious propriety, moral uprightness or social calm.

That’s the price you pay for being in a democracy. One person’s freedom is your annoyance. And your forbearance is permission for that person to be free.

We are torn asunder. We have not escaped the decision by South Carolina to leave the Union. And we will not be powerful and productive again until each and every one of us swallows a bit of our pride and self-righteousness and arrives at a solution that will “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

 

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Antietam

dictionary with letter AAntietam: historic site in northwestern Maryland, known as Antietam Creek, the scene of a major Civil War battle in September of 1862.

It was a lost cause.

Unless you’re a careful student of history, you may fail to realize that Abraham Lincoln was probably the most hated man in America.

Not only had he been elected President, causing the South to secede from the Union, but he had also made a decision to surround himself, in his cabinet, with competitors and critics.

When the war began, it was a fiasco. At the First Battle of Bull Run, the South nearly ended the entire conflict with one day’s murder and mayhem. But Lincoln continued, searching for a means to keep the country together, and possibly in the process, heal some old wounds and atone for the sins of slavery.

The problem was, the North couldn’t win a battle. Not even close.

So rather than being considered a great leader or a man of vision, he was viewed by his contemporaries as a clumsy goofball, ill-prepared for the challenge of repairing the breach.

He kept replacing generals in charge of the Army of the Potomac, hoping that someone might grow a backbone or at least field an army.

Lincoln had two goals:

Primary was to keep the Union together, for a reason which he almost singularly held within his breast. Everyone else had varying degrees of indifference on the issue.

But secondly, he realized that emancipating the slaves was not only an important step of contrition, but also would keep England and France out of the war,siding with the Confederacy. But it was certainly difficult to issue any kind of Proclamation in the midst of defeat.

The Battle of Antietam was a standoff, with more soldiers killed on the field than in any war in history, and Lincoln seized on that result, deeming it a moral victory, and set in motion to free the slaves.

Even though the Union became more proficient at war and eventually wore down their Southern brothers, it was the Battle of Antietam that gave Lincoln the doorway to make the Civil War about something other than states’ rights. In doing so, he robbed the countrymen clad in gray of the possibility of gaining international acceptance, therefore stifling their resources to those found within their own borders.

It was enough.

It’s why we still honor Abraham Lincoln today instead of shaking our heads in sadness over another failed Presidency.

Antietam was a bloodbath which ended with no conclusion–except permission for a President to change the rules and certainly, change the world. 

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Andersonville

dictionary with letter A

Andersonville: (n) a village in southwestern Georgia that was the site of a large and infamous Confederate prison camp during the Civil War.

The Civil War was our holocaust.

Actually, little will be achieved in this country until we universally accept this statement as true.

The Civil War is when we took a race of people, segregated them, mistreated them and then ended up fighting a war which included in its pursuits the decision to continue that same practice indiscriminately.

We murdered, created new weapons to increase the casualties and took brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and placed them at odds with each other, continually making a “Sophie’s Choice” within the boundaries of households.

  • It was horrific.
  • It was unnecessary.
  • It was short-sighted.

And when you add in the treatment given to fellow-Americans as prisoners of war–on both sides–you have almost an identical parallel to many of the atrocities that were perpetuated in Nazi Germany.

It is our humiliation.

It is a war we should study because we need to make sure that in our present dealings, that none of the ignorance that brought about the massacre and slaughter can be welcomed again.

We need to put away all the trumpets, banners and paraphernalia from that conflict into a trunk and bury it in the ground with a ceremony of repentance.

There is nothing from that period of time that is worthy of our praise, let alone our consideration.

I admire the German people because they look on the horror of their own recent history and refuse to repeat it–by making sure the only reference to it is an apology.

To live in a country that still refers to “Yankees and “Rebs,” “North and South,” “Union and Confederate” with a sense of regional pride is an abomination to our belief in all men being created equal.

The Andersonville prison was a location where the anger, frustration and evil that had been perpetuated for three centuries was brought to bear and turned into a living hell.

But the Civil War was not noble.

It was not good.

It was not brave.

It is our holocaust–and because it is, we should reverence those who suffered and pledge to never repeat such foolish iniquity again.

 

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Alto

dictionary with letter A

Alto: (n.) a voice, instrument or musical part below the soprano and above the tenor

It’s called a triad.

I’m not trying to give you a music lesson. It’s a simple blending of two notes that creates a cohesive and usually very pleasant harmony.

It was the staple of music for generations, but in the past thirty years it has been forsaken in favor of harmonies which stress the fourth and fifth instead of thirds.

Now, understanding that this is much too technical for anyone who does not pursue bass and treble clefs, let me personify it better by saying that if you’ve ever heard a women’s trio sing in a church or civic organization, one of the ladies always carries a harmony which clings to the melody so faithfully that it is almost like a twin.

It is beautiful. It is gorgeous. But for a generation of musicians and composers who favor a bit darker sound to their tunes, it is probably quite annoying.

Matter of fact, the most common way to end a song in today’s market is on the major seventh or with a dangling fifth.

Once again, I’m getting too technical. But understand this: sometimes it’s just lovely to hear a melody accompanied by a triad tripping faithfully along behind. It is a union that reminds us that the universe is not meant to be strident, but is intended to have a soprano … accompanied by a well-tuned alto.