Vocablet of the Day: Humility

Pope Francis was elected in March of 2013, and it didn’t take long for people to realize that there was something different about him.

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Pope Francis has gone a different way from previous popes, choosing to live more simply and with the quality or state of being humble.

Pope Francis' chair, on the right, shows his humility even in his new station.

In the past, popes have lived a life of luxury that comes with the highest position in the Catholic Church.  Pope Francis, demonstrating his humility, has chosen instead to keep his clothes simple and to live in the Vatican guesthouse rather than the large papal apartment.

Do you think Pope Francis’ humility makes a statement?  What kind?

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Vocablet of the Day: Deferential

To show respect toward a man, you can call him “sir.”  But to show the same respect to a woman, which word should you use?

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Sometimes it can be tricky to be respectful, especially when cultural norms cause mixed messages.

In the southern United States, calling a woman of any age “ma’am” is considered the polite thing to do.  In other parts of the country, however, “ma’am” is reserved for older women, and “miss” is used to be deferential towards younger women.  So when you’re trying to be polite to a woman of indeterminate age (outside of the American South), it’s probably a good idea to stick to “miss.”

What words do you use to be deferential to women where you live?

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Vocablet of the Day: Inevitable

How far would you go to face your fears?  Would you climb into a coffin?

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Even though death is incapable of being avoided or prevented, most of us would prefer not to think about it.  Some, however, take the opposite approach.

In psychological terms, it’s called immersion therapy: throw yourself into whatever scares you.  If you’re afraid of spiders, let three of them crawl over your hands.  If you’re afraid of flying, book a ticket across the Atlantic.  And if you fear the inevitable approach of death, climb into a coffin.

Does the idea of getting into a coffin freak you out?  Or do you think it might make you feel more comfortable with the fact that your own death is inevitable?

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Vocablet of the Day: Fleeting

When you see a tree in bloom, what do you think about?  Springtime?  Warm weather?  Or the brief and ephemeral nature of life?

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Youth, beauty, springtime, even life itself — all of them lasting for a very short time in the grand scheme of the world.

Cherry blossoms are celebrated around the world for their incredible beauty during the brief period in spring when they bloom into gorgeous pink flowers.  In Japan, the fact that the blossoms appear for such a fleeting amount of time adds to their beauty and meaning, reminding us that nothing in life is permanent.

Have you ever seen a group of cherry trees in bloom?  What does the fleeting nature of beauty mean to you?

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Vocablet of the Day: Quantitative

How would you describe the health of the oceans?  Poor?  Worsening?  Not that bad?  73%?  If that last one is confusing, read on….

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How clean is your coastline?  Rather than rely on vague descriptions, the Ocean Health Index uses a clear-cut system based on a measurement relating to the amount or number of something rather than its quality.

Qualitative descriptions — that is, descriptions that rely on non-numerical characteristics, like color, degree, good vs bad, more vs less — are useful for some things, but they aren’t always enough.  Because numbers are concrete and easily measured, quantitative measures are often better for making direct comparisons.  The Ocean Health Index allows countries to compare their quantitative scores to those of other countries, making it easy to see which countries need improvement in how they treat their coastlines.

Can you think of another example of a quantitative measure?  When would a qualitative measure be better than a quantitative one?

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Vocablet of the Day: Departure

Charles de Gaulle Airport has hundreds of departures and arrivals every day — but one man’s departure took an exceptionally long time.

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Mehran Karimi Nasseri took his time with his act of leaving from Charles de Gaulle Airport — almost twenty years!

Sleeping in airports is usually not very comfortable.

Sometimes, with delayed flights, long waits, and even longer lines, it can feel like you live in the departure lounge of your local airport.  Mehran Karimi Nasseri, however, actually knows what it’s like, having made an airport his home from 1988 to 2006.  His final departure from that place must have been a huge relief!

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve waited in an airport’s departure terminal?

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Vocablet of the Day: No-frills

The behavior of the newly elected pope, Pope Francis, has caused some people to raise their eyebrows — from his recent act of including women in a ritual of foot-washing to his no-frills lifestyle.

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The newly elected pope, Pope Francis, does things a little differently than past popes.  His manner is less formal, and his lifestyle has been described as offering or providing only what is necessary.

Leaving behind the elaborately decorated clothing that other popes have worn, Pope Francis chooses a more no-frills style.  He has even decided to live in Vatican guesthouse instead of the papal apartments, preferring their simplicity.

I think Pope Francis’ no-frills lifestyle makes sense, reminding believers that faith and compassion are what’s important, not displays of wealth.  What do you think?  Is your own style more no-frills, or do you like a bit of flash and glamor?

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Vocablet of the Day: Relieve

Dogs have been called “man’s best friend.”  Their loyalty, playfulness, and love can help us to relax after a busy day.  But what if your furry best friend was illegal?

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The crazy modern world we live in puts a lot of pressure on people.  But in China, changing laws mean a new way to end or lessen something unpleasant such as pain or tension: pet dogs.

Doggie jail? Not anymore!

Having a dog as a pet was illegal for a long time in China, but not anymore.  Now, more and more people are learning that the faithful companionship of a dog can be a great way to relieve the stress and anxiety of daily life.

Do you have a pet that helps to relieve you of bad feelings?  What other methods are good for relieving stress?

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Vocablet of the Day: Aversion

There are a lot of strange and delicious foods out there, and one food truck is encouraging people to take their appetites to a place they’ve never been.

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Yum!

Would you eat a bug?  If you’re from a Western culture, you probably have a feeling of intense dislike even thinking about it.

But one food truck is challenging this deep-seated aversion with delicious snacks made out of, yes, bugs.  Maybe this will make people question why they have an aversion to eating bugs when they can be a tasty and healthy food.

Do you think you’d eat a buggy snack?  What other foods do you have an aversion toward?

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Vocablet of the Day: Monetize

Are you a chocolate lover?  What would you do if it suddenly became difficult to find?

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These cocoa beans are actually seeds, found in large yellow cocoa pods.

Farmers need to be able to make money from their crops in order to keep their business growing, so it makes sense that they would choose to grow foods that are easy to convert into the form of money.

Even though chocolate is very popular, the farms that grow cocoa beans (the raw material for chocolate) don’t make much money.  What happens if a particular crop becomes difficult to monetize?  Farmers stop growing it!

Why do you think cocoa beans (or any kind of food) would be difficult to monetize?

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