NUANCE

Posted in Bird of Time, Culture, Humor, Opinion, Philosophy, Politics, The Arts, wordpress, words with tags , , , , on May 18, 2014 by bird of time

Words can be like little gifts that arrive unexpectedly, and if we are lucky, hang around for a while for us to enjoy.

Lilacs. That one could keep me smiling for hours. It brings in its train, home, May, blue skies and a scent even lovelier than roses..

I’m a dyed- in-the-wool romantic who believed in fairy tales and happily ever after, as a kid. While happily-ever-after days seem to be gone for a while, hope is the one thing that never fled Pandora’s box.

But this is all a bit of a tangent (one of those words that keeps on giving, you can fly off on a tangent and land anywhere).

The other day I was kind enough or cruel enough, to suggest to a friendly poet that a certain word, therefore phrase, was weak. Cry, for instance. Not that there is anything wrong with crying – we couldn’t be sane without it, but this particular image came across as whimpering, crying  like a baby. I suggested he try the thesaurus for a better word, like weep which shows the situation is serious, sad and worth crying over.

There are some who make it a point of pride not to use the thesaurus. Well, McGee, you’re a better man than I am! (You must remember Fibber McGee and Molly, the old radio program? The one with the closet where everything fell on your head, once you opened it? If you don’t, Google it and give it a try). Now that is a lovely tangent, isn’t it?

But all those words in a thesaurus! What a treasure of emotions, of life. The poet was writing about a coming storm. The picture it brings to mind is of thunder and pelting rain But that kind of storm usually passes quickly and normally a grown man doesn’t cry because of it. He said he wanted to say it was not only a physical but an emotional storm.

Ah! Then, take that word “coming”. Not very exciting, is it? So we go to the thesaurus to see if there is a word, just one, that expresses our fears, our terror, dread, perhaps only annoyance, or a meaning close to coming. a nuance like stalking, pursuing, that gives us a more emotional picture.

It puts a whole new spin on things, doesn’t it?

There is another, beckoning tangent if I ever saw one.

Our whole world is being led to disaster by nuances. The word has a new definition : a  White House spin, a place where  we are led down a garden path. A laundry enhancer which bleaches the spots to make the truth less ugly.

We don’t have to think about a war on terror. All we have is a man-caused disaster! When you think about that, there is a delicious irony in the phrase. Man certainly is making disaster. He is a disaster. And calling the Ft. Hood massacre, “workplace violence” is trying to make it sound as though someone threw a book or swore. Or perhaps one of the soldiers slept through his duty time and didn’t cut the grass around the big flag pole.

When global cooling turned into global warming, which included an ice-cold winter of discontent, the blushing faces of those in the white-house came up with climate disruption, as though climate were a mild, controllable wench who suddenly lost her cool. She forgot to take her tranquilizer!

A nuance is a fanciful partner in our life of words. You know, those things that allow us to communicate with, to charm or, sadly, to harm our neighbors? A nuance can spread the wealth (make every one rich?)  or take from the rich and give to the poor so we can all be equally poor. It can turn a coming storm into a spot of trouble or a cataclysm.

Or it can be a gigantic lie.

Perhaps, instead of nuances, I should opt for the bald truth!

.

 

 

WORDS

Posted in Bird of Time, Free Speech, morality, Opinion, Philosophy, shame and morality with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2014 by bird of time

Once upon a time –

Sorry, I can’t resist. Every time I start anything with those four words, I get groans and a lecture on how a writer should never start anything with that phrase. But I love doing it. Mischief? I don’t know – I love corny jokes and puns, so maybe that’s it. Or maybe that as a child I loved fairy tales.

I’m one of those odd writers who have no idea what they are going to say when they sit down at the computer. Oh, I have something I want to talk about but haven’t a clue even how to start. Everything I say depends upon that first sentence. Once that is down, I never get a writer’s block. It’s quite possible that before I’m done, my reader may wish I did. The words flow.

There is one word that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Shame.

Once upon a time shame was a major player on the stage of life. When I think of the word, the first thing that comes to mind is Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” and I cringe, thinking of all the heartbreak the combination has caused.

I’m not quite that old, but old enough to remember when “shame on you” was a normal thing to say to a misbehaving child. Again I cringe at the thought. Shame can be a good teaching tool but it can also be a destroyer. It takes real wisdom and love to know the risk.

The other day a friend and I had a “discussion” (a polite argument, rather) about saying someone was a liar. He said it was a hate word. I said it is a fact. If a person lies consistently, he is a liar according to the definition. Even more so if it is done with malice as certain of our politicians do openly today. Some people do have a habit of elaborating tales consistently, but we mostly look upon him (a generic him) with humor or tolerance.

And again, I’ll go back to once upon a time and recall that to be named a liar was truly a shameful thing. In the movies men got shot for that.

The problem is, today we have so few moral standards that shame is almost non-existent. You can’t have shame if noting you do is shameful. The total reluctance to admit that anything is bad encourages bad behavior.

A big part of that is being politically correct. It too encourages bad behavior. To not say “terrorist”  but “workplace violence” not only mitigates the horror, but the guilt of the murderer.

I don’t like to think of people deliberately being cruel to each other – verbally, since that is what we are talking about. But the bigger cruelty is to encourage.our politicians to deliberately lie with a straight face, allow children to tear up a school hall.and urinate all over and call it mischief, to be so politically correct that you cannot speak of an evil act without being fined or jailed for “hate” speech. A difference of opinion is not hate.  Truth is not hate. It is a fact.

We need to get our act together. Words have meanings. Truth is truth. Shame can be useful. We need to be honest enough to know what is shameful and what is not.

Words used to distort are as big a lie as a direct statement of untruth. Distortion is an untruth.

Let’s buy every politician a dictionary and let us start being honest with each other. Let children know that actions have consequences and good character means what it says.

Let’s cut out this politically correct nonsense. No matter what you say, someone, somewhere in the world will  be offended.  There are always at least two sides  to a question, therefore, half the people will be offended all the time.

Grow up, people. If everyone is so thin-skinned, everyone needs a good dose of reality.

 

 

Capitalism, Communism and God

Posted in conservative, Constitution, Culture, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2014 by bird of time

To begin with I am not a fundamentalist and am in many ways an almost Catholic. I say almost because it is too male centered to be honest. I trust in the goodness of God. I believe He seeks to touch each life to bring each person to him according to who the person is, the processes that make him an individual. I believe a holy Buddhist is a better man than a bad Christian.

The first problem I see is the literal view of the Old Testament. I believe it to be chiefly the history of the Jewish people and their relationship with God I don’t doubt that it was inspired, but I believe the inspiration a practical one, not a verbatim thought by God.

I think that God took into account the person writing the material. Like it or not, the person does have an influence on what is said, how it is said and the conclusions drawn. Take for instance, St. Paul and his epistles. He has a definite idea of women’s place in the world, but it is his world, his understanding of what is right and proper in that world. His idea of what God expects of people in that world. He had no inkling of any other world. I really cannot believe that God whispered in St. Paul’s ear every word to write. He gave Paul love and the wisdom to discern things in the world he knew.

God had formed Paul, seen to his conversion, his moral understanding. God just does not follow people around and put words in their mouth at every moment of their lives. He makes them understand and says “Go at it, Pal.” That understanding is filtered through what the person knows. God also understands that man is not a perfect machine, that he is the product of a fallen soul. Paul himself admits he is a fallen man.

Would God then, demand that women be silent and wear veils over their heads in this day and age? Women were the property of men then, if not literally, at least morally. Women were believed to be less than man. Is that really what God meant for today? Paul’s view of the role was conditioned by what he knew.

St. Augustine is generally accepted as a man inspired by god. Yet from Augustine comes the idea that God has predestined some men to be saved, most to go to hell. Perhaps God allows it rather than predestines it because He knows some men will choose evil. If He gave man a free will, He could not predestine him. Jesus consistently talked about good and bad choices. If you have choice, you do not, cannot have predestination.

As for God and the Jews, God and the cruelty of the Old Testament, we have again man’s understanding to deal with. God even told Job that man could not understand God. God could touch a man and make him holy, yes. But since He gave mankind free will, that is, the ability to make a choice whether to serve and love God or not, He could hardly make every man a saint. Man has to choose. Sometimes man’s intentions are better than his understanding. And, his understanding is always influenced by who and what he is.

The Jews, like Paul were a product of their time. God, then dealt with them on that basis. He knows who each of us is. I believe He deals with us on that basis.

Jesus saves. Yes, By His death He opened the door of heaven for mankind. He never said Baptists or Catholics or any special sect. He died for mankind. He did not die for a few Europeans, For many years, those were chiefly the believers. It took a long time for the word to spread to Asians and Africans. Do you think He had a great time creating all those people to cast into hell?

There is an old Catholic doctrine that claims the baptism of desire. That is, if a person truly desires God and lives accordingly, he is baptized by his desire for God.

Which brings me to the problem of homosexuality. I am not God so I can’t solve this problem. At the time of the Jews I do think that God taught them it was wrong. But He also said through Paul, “When I was a child, I thought as a child.” I personally do not have an answer on that morality. The only thing I can do is let God deal with the individual and Himself.

On the problem of marriage, I see no good reason to disturb tradition by changing the definition of a word, which is what it amounts to. I am old enough to honor tradition. It is history that can unite and enlighten a nation.

A word has meaning. I fail to see why that particular word has to apply to a ceremony that denies its meaning. What is wrong with vows, for instance? They could take a vow for a loving alliance.

I think the homosexual attitude on the word “marriage” is wrong, just as I believe their actions in their parades in San Francisco are wrong. Decency, thoughtfulness, courtesy demand something from all of us. To ask it does not make a hater. To ask the Muslims not to build their Mosque at the site of September 11, is not hate. It is courtesy and compassion.

Each of us is responsible to God. While it may be a concern in my Charity that you act in concert with God’s love – in the end you are your own responsibility.

I believe the Garden of Eden story not quite literally but emotionally and spiritually. I see no reason that when He made man, He couldn’t start with an amoeba, a fish, a monkey or whatever. At some point, God touched man and gave him a soul. That is, He created the Adam and Eve. when man was fit to receive the soul. The time between mud and man is immaterial. God, if you believe in Him, can do anything He wants, when He wants, can He not? Frankly, I think this “to do” about Creationism in schools is just that. I doubt if knowing about it hurts anyone. So, it is a theory. A lot of science is a theory. Earth warming is a theory. That is stuffed down everyone’s throat. I don’t especially recommend the teaching of Creationism but I won’t have a fit over it either. Unlike many things that are taught, it won’t kill anyone.

From the savage then, man had to grow both intellectually and spiritually. Spirituality and the Jews, and now, modern man. Man was not meant to stay at a primitive level.

The process of growth has been long and painful. Monarchy, tyranny, the Greeks the Romans, Kings, Queens, Empires, and yes the Muslims and Eastern religions and philosophies along with Christianity, these have all shaped mankind.

Aside from the politics and religion, we also have the individual character of each man, his weaknesses, his strengths, his stupidity, his intelligence. If men were perfect we might have a natural socialism, but as it is man is the victim of being a man.

Our family once entertained a man from Red China in our home. We did not discuss politics because he was a guest and we did not want to cause any discomfort. He did say that as a teacher, his big problem was the lack of incentive. There was no reason to excel in a world where everyone was by force, equal.

A man is happiest when he can dream and strive. Success is nice, but the trying is the excitement. That is the purpose of the line in the constitution that says “the pursuit of happiness”. It was intended that man be free to reach out for the stars without the interference of government.

Budding socialists or progressives want to say that capitalism is evil. No. Capitalism is only a format within which man is most free to reach the stars. If man is greedy, that is not the fault of capitalism but the fault of man. He is no less greedy under monarchies, socialism or communism. Hitler, Stalin and others of that ilk are the natural result of a system of state run power, which is what those systems are. There is little chance in those systems for man to escape it, to be himself because if he is a good man, (without revolution) he cannot fight well enough to be free. If he is a greedy, power-hungry man, he can join the system and succeed as a parasite.

Many young people claim that Jesus was a communist. Jesus was not born to change the political system of the world. He told man to give, said it was harder for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel through the eye of a needle. But, as with the Samaritan, he never suggested taking money from the rich to give to the poor. He did not go around spreading money. He fed the crowd from love and necessity, not a political example. He did not criticize the governments. He criticized the men to save their souls. If he said “share” it was for the welfare of the neighbor but not for political motives. It was for love and salvation. A communistic Jesus is too easy. It excuses the real hardship of charity.

In a capitalistic system, you have greed, yes. Brought to its final conclusion, it can end up in monarchy, socialism or communism or any other sort of dictatorship. That is what the constitution is meant to guard us from. If we are not careful and if we buy the current progressive philosophy, we are in danger of ending in tyranny.

Cole said that communism does not force. It shares. In an ideal world, perhaps. But to call sharing communism is a bit over the top.

The one fact and hope remains. Capitalism is the system which gives a man his best chance to be free and good. Take a look at technology. Because it is intensely competitive, it grows exponentially. How many in our country have become successful (and hopefully happy) because of this competition? You kids with your phones and gadgets certainly enjoy the fruits of capitalism. (The Communists, that is China, steal the technology, not invent it.)

Communism and tyrannies cannot afford competition. China is beginning to become more competitive internally, but as with Tianamin Square, that government cannot afford to let go of its control. Once the government lets go, then you have capitalism.

In our country we have no Tienamin Square. We have the left which makes fun of the tea party and the Republicans because that is the way they plan to keep them from progress in breaking free of an all too intrusive government Call a man a fool often enough and no one will pay attention to him. And the Left excels at propaganda while the right stands around with their fingers up their nose and says, “Duh.”

The left, let us say “Progressives” are numerically superior and much more dangerous. They believe themselves to be the “elite”. They have a long established plan to make the country socialist (since Teddy Roosevelt) and they have very nearly succeeded because they control the teaching content of the universities.

But, they overplayed their hand with Obama..

Why, in his first European speech, did Obama not know what language Austrians spoke ? How can you know ANY European history without knowing about the Austrian Empire?

One of his first acts was to send back to England the bust of Churchill. That was a deliberate sign, deny it though he will. He is not interested in the European society. He wants to replace it with a world where the third countries can take from the West.

The problem is that the young are so idealistic. It is good, but not practical. Their education is purposely slanted by the universities to believe that America is a villain. Check to see how many liberals vs. the right are in the universities. The numbers are available.

Experience will show that because a thing is good it is not always the right action. People who oppose it are not evil. They usually want the same goal but choose a different path.

If you want to save the world, be a congressman without ulterior motives and help the people to have the freedom to determine their own destiny by protecting the constitution.

Words Spell Where the Heart is

Posted in Bird of Time, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , on May 4, 2014 by bird of time

I haven’t posted in a long time. My overdrive ran out, I guess.

I didn’t run out of words, I ran out of heart.  All of this political dirt, all the  worldly dirt gets to one sometimes.

But about two weeks ago now, we found that my daughter-in-law who is really like a daughter to me, had cancer and that it was at an advanced stage, that she was in a lot of pain.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have much hope for her, but sometimes God insists we hope and who are we to argue?

God won’t be argued with much anyway. He isn’t like Obama who says go sit down and shut up when we protest. At least with me he doesn’t. It’s more like Francis Thompson in Hound of Heaven. He pays no attention to my stupidity at all.

I fled him, down the nights and down the days

I fled him, down the arches of the years

I fled him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears–
—–
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after

But with unhurrying chase

And unperturbed pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

They beat–and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet–

“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

Whom will thou find to love ignoble thee;

Save Me, save only Me

All of which I took from thee I did take,

Not for thy harms,

But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.

All of which thy child’s mistake

Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:

Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”

 

We look so hard for what we believe is happiness, but it isn’t really, is it? It is more of the same. Another piece of furniture to use or not use, a car so that we can run faster.  We want to love yet fear the loss of  love or even set out to lose it because we don’t understand it. Or we don’t like the cost of it:

 

“For, though I knew His love Who followed,

Yet was I sore a dread

Lest, having Him I must have naught besides.”

 

It probably sounds a bit blasphemous to think God will be unvaryingly patient. Perhaps it sounds like taking him for granted. But sometimes it is just desperation and hope. We keep running as though we were going somewhere. In the end, there is really no place else to go. We have to stop and let the footsteps catch us.

 

***An after note. it is now late 2012 and my “daughter” died shortly after this article was written.  After the funeral we all went outside and released balloons. Every one of the balloons went straight up into the sun.

God’s footsteps caught up with her.