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What Is What? Definitions by Joseph Mileck

By Joseph Mileck
Wednesday December 30, 2009 - 09:09:00 AM


• What is reasoning but logical thinking nuanced by emotions. 

• What is greed but life’s survival urge become malignant. 

• What is stubbornness but a self-assertive tenacious refusal to oblige, rightly or wrongly. 

• What is pride but dignity run amok.  

• What is dignity but that self-respect and poise once expected of society’s spiritual and intellectual leaders. 

• What is courage but unwavering self-commitment in full awareness of danger and dire possibilities. 



• What is a nihilist but a skeptic who has found his faith. 

• What is a skeptic but a disillusioned seeker of truth become a relativist. 

• What is an absolutist but a troubled soul who has found an idiosyncratic religion. 

• What is an idealist but a dreamer whose lofty visions have remained unsullied by actuality. 

• What is an agnostic but an informed realistic seeker of truth who has acknowledged that the reach of our human mind exceeds its grasp. 

• What is a religious believer but one who is persuaded in spite of contradictions and notwithstanding contrary argument. 

• What are patriotism and flag but the all too readily abused conceits of nationalism. 

• What is faith but conviction that needs no proof. 

• What are atheists but non-believing theists. 

• What is an agnostic but one who proudly knows that he does not know. 



• What is capitalism but, in theory, an economic system characterized by freedom of the market, and private and corporate ownership and, in its American metamorphosis, an economic jungle of private enterprise, powerful corporations and hard-nosed entrepreneurs with questionable scruples and a passion for money and power, where the rich keep getting richer and the poor, poorer. 

• What is American democracy but, in theory, a government by and for the people and, in practice, a plutocracy in which the faceless many are governed by the financially prominent few. 

• What are wars but adult tantrums. 

• What is an oath of allegiance but a solicited or demanded giving up of self thought-action for group thought-action, dangerous self-diminishing commitment. 


Human relations 

• What is individualism but self-acknowledgment and self-assertion, egoism at its best and egotism at its worst. 

• What is compromise but a necessary meeting of minds, both loss and gain, both troubling and assuring. 

• What is an apology but an effort to undo what cannot be undone. 

• What is remorse but the pain of regret exacted by a conscience pained by a breaching of morality. 

• What is a hero but one who with little self-concern exposes himself to life-threatening danger for another or for the common weal.