Dictionary Challenge Week 15/16: What Happened to Humanity?

I never thought reading the dictionary would make me sad. After all, we’ve been told since we were kids that words can’t hurt you. But we all know that isn’t true, don’t we? Words hurt when they’re flung out from ignorant minds, spat venomously from mouths lined with hate.

But that not the dictionary’s fault. It’s us.

We’re the ones who have created these words, who have continued to use them, have chosen to let hate be our guide. Some can sound pretty fun, like chucklehead. Or sometimes it’s not even the word at all, but how we say it. Like chit. But then there’s chicken shit or chump or cockteaser and things get a little gray.

And then you hear Coon or Chink.

And you have to wonder how we’ve let ourselves be able to treat any other person as less than our self. We are all humans and that’s what we should cling to. Not words of oppression or hate. Or their actions…

Where I have been most saddened is by the words that speak of the horrible things that we have created or done. There are too many. There are just too many.

You seDeath stabs a mane, Homo sapiens are the rulers or the animal kingdom. Not because we’re built with any particularly ferocious or defensive physical capabilities, but because of what’s in our brain pans. Our ability to think. And create. I suppose opposable thumbs certainly helps, but it is that we believe we are limitless in what we can do. Sure, the optimist says we’ll create all of these wonderful things like jet packs and have personal robots to do everything for us. But all that good we’re capable of, like saving the planet from unnecessary pollution, gets caught in the onslaught of everything that’s wrong with us. After all, we’re also the ones who have created cluster bombs and coffin nails and clip joints.

I mean, really. How can a person justify a bomb that sprays out more bombs? You can say we need to defend ourselves, but damn it – wouldn’t it be nice not to have to? I don’t like sounding like a hopeless left winger who still somehow believes that at their base every person is good. Because that’s not the way the world works. I get that. But you have to admit – wouldn’t it be nice if there were no war? No hate? No crime?

Ah, what a pipe dream.

Assassins, bear-baiting, benzene, bomblets, brick bats, cannon fodder, comfort women, the Children’s Crusade… I’m sitting here flipping these pages of the words that make up my language and its an onslaught of how brutal humanity can be. Page after page I’m regaled with things that people have done or created and I realize that we’re not as great as we think we are.

Because we’re destroying ourselves. Aren’t we?

Chucklehead (informal) a stupid person; a blockhead

Chit – (derogatory or jocular) a young and inexperience girl or woman

Chicken shit – (course slang) a coward

Chump – (informal) a gullible or foolish person

Cockteaser – (course slang) a woman regarded as provocatively refusing sexual intercourse

Coon – (slang offensive) a black person

Chink – (slang offensive) a Chinese person

Cluster bomb –an antipersonnel bomb spraying smaller bombs or shrapnel when detonated

Coffin nail – a cigarette

Clip joint – a nightclub etc charging exorbitant prices

Assassin – a killer, esp. of a political or religious leader

Bear-baiting – an entertainment involving setting dogs to attack a captive bear

Benzene – a colourless carcinogenic volatile liquid found in coal tar, petroleum, etc., and used as a solvent and in the manufacture or plastics etc.

Bomblet – a very small bomb

Brick bat – a piece of brick, esp. when used to throw at someone

Cannon fodder –  people, esp. soldiers, regarded merely as material to be expended in war

Comfort woman  – (in the second World War) a woman forcibly recruited by the Japanese army to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers

Children’s Crusade – a movement in 1212 in which tens of thousands of children (mostly from France and Germany) were organized for a crusade to the Holy Land. Most of the children never reached their destination, many being sold into slavery before embarking from French and Italian ports.


Week 15 & 16 Stats

Starting Word: Chindwin River          Ending Word: Cow-pie

Total Pages 350/1815                          Ahead/Behind: – 215

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge Post Show

Bowl of MushroomsI gave myself 25 days. In that 25 days I ate umpteen pounds of mushrooms. Brown ones, white ones, small ones, big ones, round ones, saucer-shaped ones, alien-looking ones, medusa-like ones, whole, sliced, diced, processed – I covered the spectrum pretty darn well.

I learned that…

  1. Mushroom soup isn’t the worse. Mushroom skulls are.
  2. I have been a massive baby about mushrooms my whole life.
  3. While knowing #2 to be true, I still have a mushroom aversion.
  4. Some mushrooms are better than others. There actually is a difference.
  5. Whole mushrooms are the hardest to eat.
  6. Fresh mushrooms are the easiest to eat.
  7. Mushrooms aren’t that bad (says my mind).
  8. Mushrooms are horrible (says my heart).

But perhaps, the biggest lesson I learned is that

  1. A changed mind takes constant work. You can endure many things and if you endure long enough you just might be able to tip the scales.

I changed during this challenge. Every challenge does that – it’s part of the reason why it’s important to push yourself, to try new things, to attempt to become better in some form. In this challenge I tried to overcome my aversion (hatred and disgust) of mushrooms. While ultimately I failed, I can’t admit that this was a complete failure – far from it, in fact.

I began with a rampant refusal to ever eat a mushroom. I ended with having eaten an astonishing amount and variety of mushrooms. I don’t like mushrooms – that still remains – but I no longer have an excuse (not that I ever really did) for leaving mushrooms on the side of my plate or refusing food because there is a mush chunk in it. I can eat mushrooms. I can do it. My dislike for mushrooms isn’t nearly as strong as it once was.

Your mind can be a prison guard if you let it. It’ll close those doors and throw away the key and you won’t even realize it. But if you can open it up enough to face your problems, to try and change, to let the understanding that what you have always held as truth may not be true, then you have more power and strength than you know. People (myself included) like to bury themselves in ignorance. This challenge may have been about mushrooms, but it could have been about anything. The hardest part is admitting that what you knew to be true, might be wrong.

Most times, when people are faced with this, they entrench themselves even more so in their beliefs rather than trying to see another perspective. It’s scary. Opening that door just a crack could change everything. So most of us resolutely slam it shut and turn a blind eye. It’s bigger than mushrooms, but if you can look your fear or problem or issue in the metaphorical eye than you stand a chance at overcoming your own ignorance and seeing real truth, not just your version of it, not just the version you want to believe.

Today, the real truth is that mushrooms aren’t the worst. The final thing I would like to leave you with is a request. When you find yourself in a you vs. something else situation, try and see that other perspective. Really try. Life is truly lived in the gray.

Outcome: Failure

(But with great strides of progress)