President, Poudre Education Association

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What do the following words or phrases mean to you: war on terror; democrat; republican; God bless America; God; and freedom?

I asked this question (including some other words and phrases) of about 40 people of various ages and religious backgrounds and had some of the most interesting discussions. I have made the conversations into a book that I call "Definitions."

I asked people, as I am asking you, to think about what these words and phrases meant to them. I believe that, though we hear phrases and words like these often, we do not think about what they mean. I hold that one of the most dangerous thing that could happen to our country would be for people to blindly, and without thinking, follow our leaders who use words and phrases like these to influence people.

The purpose of writing my book and asking this on Ted.com, is to start conversation. Let's start, or continue, thinking about what our leaders are saying and share these thoughts with those around us. And know that the words in my question are incomplete.

Think on!!!

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    Oct 5 2011: War on terror: An excuse to justify the passing of a series of unethical laws, one of which was the Patriot Act.
    Democrat: The only respectable party left in a two party system.
    Republican: A party that has surrendered to religious conservatives. Its candidates reflect the sorry state of American politics with uncultured people like Michelle Bachmann.
    God bless America: The eternal confirmation that secular America isn't really secular. God has perniciously re-invited itself at the top during the Cold War Era.
    God: Non-existing entity.
    Freedom: A word that is mindlessly thrown around in America to reassure the people that America tops everything (it doesn't obviously).
    • Oct 6 2011: That is poifect!!!
      Except for the democrats being the only respectable party left, in a two party system.
      I ain't smart, but the way I see it, respectable has left the building.
      With Respect to ya!!!
      Oh, my fav on the meaning of freedom is Janis Joplin. Freedom is another word, for nothing to loose. (yea!!)
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    Oct 5 2011: Nice idea to rephrase common phrases.

    "war on terror" =delusion.
    "democrat" =freedom
    "republican" =conservative
    "God bless America' = superiority
    "God" =authority
    "freedom" =democrat
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    Oct 10 2011: The War on Terror sounds a lot like The War on Violence.

    Democrats and Republicans are both people that follow political parties. They have a lot in common. So do the people who fund political parties.

    God bless America makes me think of a stay at home mom cleaning dishes in a black and white kitchen as she waits for her husband to get home from work. It speaks of a somewhat classic American vision. It was never made available in Technicolor.

    God makes me think of the unthinkable, literally. "That which cannot be thought, but by which the mind is able to think, know that alone to be the Brahman." ;) Sometimes I think of the God in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    Freedom is a funny word. I have no debts, no excessive belongings or obligations, no job and I'm free to travel as I please (and I do!). But do I have the money to buy a car? No.
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    Oct 18 2011: War on Terror: Delusional, Oxymoronic. Terror is an innate emotional response. As well declare war on Happiness, Sadness, Boredom, Joy, etc. Also, the use of Terror to fight Terror seems a tad deranged.

    Democrat: A seemingly more socially inclusive political party based on allegedly humanist principles.

    Republican: A seemingly socially exclusionary party based on allegedly Christian principles.

    God Bless America: An entertaining conceit. Assumes that God has any interest whatsoever in national politics. Allows them to feel justified in their excesses.

    God: The cumulative awareness of all that is.

    Freedom: Being able to ask and answer such questions without fear of reprisal. The ability to go where I want, with whomever I want, and do what I want when I get there assuming to harm to others along the way.
  • Oct 17 2011: War on Terror: We are victorious, yet the war will never be declared to be won/over (there is too much money involved to end it). I am more afraid of a religious leader with absolute power, than of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. The War on Terror should never be turned into a Holy War. The best way to end the war in Afghanistan is to stop killing the people and just utterly destroy their crops of drugs.

    Freedom: We are losing our freedoms to the corporations. Corporations have been given unlimited rights to freedom of political speech. Human beings have lost their rights to privacy and to peacefully assemble. We have lost the right of Habeas Corpus.

    God: We look at Him, but can not see Him. We give Him a name, but the name doesn't capture it's essence.
  • Oct 17 2011: Democrats: hope
    Republicans: narrow minded
    God Bless America: selfish --God Bless this and all the countries in this planet!
    God: the power within us
    Freedom: Misused word, hope, wish
  • Oct 9 2011: war on terror = contradiction. War, most of the time, must use some form of fear to compel submission.
    democrat = the blue one hurting the country
    republican = the red one hurting the country
    God bless America = what politicians are required to say, but nobody really knows what it means
    God = dog spelled backwards
    freedom = unspecified and scary
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    Oct 5 2011: War on Terror: I loved what Allan Macdougal wrote
    Democrat: Expiring, as people nearly don't go to vote and who wins the elections do everything possible to win next ones
    Republican: Expired, enough said
    God Bless America: World rulers...
    God: The Eternal; Ever Lasting; The Maker....
    Freedom: Utopia

    hey, I am not USA citizen. Although I'd love to visit USA ^^
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    Oct 5 2011: The meanings of all the words and phrases you have listed seem to have become distortions of their original meaning, probably to justify motives that are, or have become, ulterior.

    War on Terror: A political phrase used in conjunction with the media to placate and 'justify' the invasion of oil-rich countries (for "humanitarian reasons", we are told) and to keep us, the west, in a manner to which we have become very accustomed. It will be interesting to analyse who the terrorists actually are...?

    If God exists, why would he only bless America? Or maybe he blesses wealthy nations as a means of salving political conscience? Isn't God supposed to be apolitical?

    I have a strong feeling that the UK has also been "blessed" by this very strange God...

    Freedom on its own is a rather nebulous concept, being culturally relative and therefore subjective. Freedom for someone living in Libya is vastly different from someone living in UK or USA.

    For me, freedom is the opportunity to own my own destiny, within the limits of innate reason and morality.