Latest entries

Understanding Trump phenomenon requires empathy for his supporters

by David McElroy

Trump supporters

Donald Trump scares me. As long as he’s a private citizen, he’s just a narcissistic buffoon with money, but he could be uniquely deadly to the world if you hand him the power of the U.S. presidency. So how did we get to the point that this dysfunctional clown leads current presidential polls?

As this is written, 28 percent of likely Republican primary voters say they support Trump. For those of us who listen to the man and immediately realize that he’s at least borderline insane, this seems preposterous. When people first mentioned him as a candidate four years ago, I said it was an indication we had reached “Idiocracy.” As it became clear that he was being taken more and more seriously this year, I compared the situation to Germany’s 1932 election.

For many of us, it’s easy to see why he’s dangerous. It’s easy to see that he’s crazy. What’s not so easy to explain is why so many Americans passionately support this man.

Trump’s supporters are angry and they’re part of an ugly movement. Pretty much every ugly movement in history is an overreaction to something bad that’s happened in the lives of the people involved. Such groups tend to feel angry and marginalized. If you don’t understand their underlying grievance — whether they’re right or wrong — you won’t understand what’s going on — and you’ll have no hope of solving the problem without massive bloodshed.

The fact that Germans in the 1920s and early ’30s were angry, desperate and humiliated led them to turn to Adolph Hitler, a minor demagogue who promised he could fix their problems. How much grief could the world have been spared if the needs and fears of desperate Germans had been taken seriously by the world after the “war to end all wars”?

You don’t have to agree with people to understand their motivations. You don’t have to take their side. You just have to understand what the world looks like from their point of view.

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‘Pretense of knowledge’ is leading the world down a dangerous path

by David McElroy

Paris attacks-woman views bodies

I don’t know how to make angry jihadis suddenly quit hating westerners and wanting to kill us. I don’t know how to stop everyone from doing evil things. I don’t know the perfect response to the attacks in Paris Friday.

But I have a pretty good idea that “bomb them back to the Stone Age” isn’t going to work.

After a bloody attack such as the one in Paris, the first instinct is retaliation. That seems to be human nature. The French have already sent tons and tons of bombs to blow up rocks and sand in the desert city which is considered to be the capital of the Islamic State. (Some western politicians say we should call the group Daesh instead, but I’m not going to get into that naming controversy.)

Dropping bombs on remote desert cities is popular with scared and angry voters — whether they’re French or American — but even if you kill the right people, you’re playing whack-a-mole. As you kill certain leaders and fighters, new ones emerge to take their place. (It’s a lot like the War on Drugs in that respect.)

When terrorists attacked this country on Sept. 11, 2001, there was a cry for blood, too. Soon afterward, George W. Bush sent U.S. troops to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the government there, because it had given sanctuary to the training camps used by terrorist groups. Shortly after that, he also invaded Iraq, even though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks on the United States.

How has all that worked for us?

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Honest art builds bridges for aliens who crave connection with humans

by David McElroy

Connection-art at Burning Man

The Artist vs. Lizard Brain-2If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, “Playing it safe isn’t good enough; I have to try things that might fail,” you might want to read that first.

I don’t belong on this earth.

All my life, I’ve felt as though I was dropped off on the wrong planet, because I feel like an alien here. I feel as though I don’t belong. In fact, I feel most alone when I’m in groups of people, because it reminds me how different I feel.

In the most basic of ways, I lack connection with the vast majority of people. That leaves me feeling isolated, alone and frustrated.

As I go through life, I sometimes feel like questioning my sanity, because I see things in the world and in people and in relationships that other people seem not to notice — almost as though there’s an unspoken agreement to ignore certain things.

I feel like the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” I feel as though almost everybody is pretending not to notice things which seem painfully obvious to me. But then I start wondering whether I really see what I think I see. Am I the one who’s imagining things?

When I try to tell others what I see, there’s mostly a shrug of indifference or else they look away as though I’ve mentioned something that’s impolite to mention. And that lack of interest from almost everyone else makes me certain that I’m an alien.

There’s something about this place — and these people — that I don’t understand.

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As nightmares plague my friends, I’m grateful mine have subsided

by David McElroy


Nightmares always end, but when you’re in the middle of one, it seems as though it might last forever.

Last year was terrible for me. For several years, I’d been letting myself slide into a very deep hole. I was depressed. I was broke. I was alone. I was confused.

It was a nightmare that felt as though it would never end. In fact, I didn’t just slide into that deep hole. I fell into the hole and kept digging it deeper and deeper. It seemed as though nothing I could do was right. For the first time in my life, everything felt bleak and hopeless.

But I’ve finally dug my way out of the hole, even though I’ve not really recovered entirely. I’m not where I want to be in life. I don’t have the love or family I need. I haven’t achieved the things I want to achieve. I haven’t become the person I feel driven to become.

I sometimes complain about the things in my life that I’m still unhappy about, but then I see things in the lives of people I care about — and my troubles don’t seem as big as they had seemed before.

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Trying to force others to be like us is arrogant and destroys relationships

by David McElroy

Romantic cards

It was about eight years ago. I was dating a woman who lived in North Carolina at the time. One day, I got a sweet and loving card from her in my mailbox, which I appreciated.

The next day, I got another one. For many days, the post office delivered another card from her. I don’t remember how many there were, but it was something like eight or nine. Great, right? It was a sweet and loving gesture from a thoughtful woman.

But I didn’t see it that way. I was a fool, because I chose to interpret something through the lens of my own thoughts and practices. I was an idiot.

Let me explain.

At some point early in the procession of daily cards, I noticed that each envelope had a tiny number written in a corner of the back. They were in order, so I quickly surmised that she had bought all the cards at once and written them all at once. She had done the whole project and numbered each envelope so she would know which to send when.

Great, right?

Now this is where I have to ask you not to judge me too harshly, because I’m embarrassed — humiliated, actually — to admit the way I reacted.

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Friday nights still take me back to sidelines of high school football

by David McElroy

Walker football

I didn’t grow up playing sports. When I was younger, we moved around way too much for me to be anywhere long enough to learn a sport.

Besides, I gravitated toward the kids who weren’t so likely to be athletes. As I became more of the stereotypical nerdy brainiac by junior high school, it was easy to simply say that I disliked sports, because I could lump the jocks into a group and paint them with a very broad (and unfair) brush as idiots. I didn’t know much about sports and I was pretty disdainful of those who played.

My first real interest in high school sports came when I was editor of my high school newspaper and my own school’s team had a storybook year. The Walker Vikings lost the first game of the year, but they didn’t lose again until the Alabama state championship final in the largest size classification at the time. Even then, though, I was seeing it from the perspective of a student inside his own school. I didn’t see the bigger picture.

It wasn’t until I started working at a newspaper during college that I developed a love for football and basketball. High school sports mattered in the communities we served, so I wrote hundreds of stories about football and basketball — and shot pictures in many dimly lit gyms and many tiny stadiums. Many of those games were in tiny communities where those schools — and pride in their teams — was a big part of holding the community together.

On Friday nights, I might drive to a couple of games, staying long enough at each to get pictures and a feel for the game. Afterward, I’d talk to coaches on the phone, getting quotes from men who were excited about wins and from others who were heartbroken and frustrated about losses. Although I might attend a game or two in person, I would also write another few game stories for games I’d never seen, just based on quotes and stats from coaches.

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Playing it safe isn’t good enough;
I have to try things that might fail

by David McElroy

Bessie-this might work

The Artist vs. Lizard Brain-1I was working at my desk on a recent Saturday afternoon when I noticed two cat ears poke above the surface of the desk. Then there were two intense little green eyes staring at me.

Bessie and her sister, Molly, are feral girls who I took in about seven years ago. They’re both tiny, weighing slightly less than five pounds. Bessie has only three legs and she’s never gotten over the fears she brought with her from that early life on the streets.

She runs if I get too close. It’s an ordeal if I have to touch her for medication or flea treatment. If I’m able to catch her to pick her up, I can feel her tiny heart beating very fast with fear.

Every now and then, it seems as though Bessie might get over some of her fears and trust me, at least a little. This was one of those times. She was sticking her tiny head over the edge of my desk and she seemed to be thinking of coming up onto the desk to see me.

She just stood there, though, and watched me.

Although I was able to snap a quick picture, she decided the risk was too great to trust me. She jumped back down and left the scary human alone. That wasn’t going to be the day when she got over her fears and took the chance of trusting me.

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Banning or limiting access to guns won’t prevent evil in human hearts

by David McElroy

Virginia shooter POV with gun

I don’t really like guns. I’ve fired a gun a few times, but I’d prefer not to be around them. I find them dangerous and unnecessary for my purposes in life today. If I see a gun on someone, I’m wary. Whether it’s a cop, a hunter or a thug, I see a gun as a danger.

But as much as I dislike guns, I’m absolutely opposed to efforts that would ban them or limit access to them. Why?

The murders of two Virginia journalists this week on live television has once again stoked the fires of those who want to ban guns or place strong restrictions on who can have them. Those people say we have a gun problem, but I strongly disagree. We have a “human problem.” We have a problem with human beings who have evil in their hearts and minds — and who are determined to hurt people they dislike.

Banning guns wouldn’t solve that problem — and banning guns would create a long-term problem far worse than the one it would allegedly solve.

Progressives who want to ban or limit guns are just as irrational and emotional as the many conservatives who want to ban or limit recreational drugs. In both cases, the position is taken for strongly emotional reasons and the person holding the belief has to ignore the evidence that his “solution” is worse than the problem it attempts to solve.

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Little girl’s face and colorful sky
have power to pierce my heart

by David McElroy

Sunset-Aug. 8, 2015-small

A woman I know sent me a few pictures of her young daughter Friday. I hadn’t seen pictures of this little girl for about six or eight months — and I wasn’t prepared for how seeing her would affect me.

This little lady is beautiful. Her mother is beautiful, too, so that’s no surprise, but she’s already getting to the point that she looks more like a beautiful little girl than just a drooling baby. She has some teeth and you can see depth of personality in her toothy little grin. You can see some kind of beauty that transcends physical appearance in an inexplicable way.

Looking at those pictures almost made me cry, because I was overwhelmed with a beauty that pierced my heart and pointed me once again toward the joy of living in this amazing Creation.

Saturday evening at sunset, I was walking in a local park when I realized the sky had suddenly started turning pink and orange and red and gold. I stopped walking and just stood there trying to drink it all in. For about 15 minutes, I felt as though I was watching a Master Painter put on another showing of the world’s longest-running art show. The western sky glowed and changed colors constantly for a few minutes, but even the sky overhead and on other sides was a delicate pink and orange.

A little girl came walking by with her parents and she looked at me as she pointed to the sky.

“It’s pink!” she told me with excitement in her voice.

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Perfect time for reaching a goal can come right after you’ve given up

by David McElroy

Sunset-Aug. 6, 2015-small

I used to take a lot of sunset pictures, but I haven’t felt much like it this year. I wanted to test something about my camera, though, so I went to a hill near where I live Thursday evening to wait for sunset.

My iPhone’s weather app told me that sunset would be at 7:41 p.m. I was in place three minutes early, with my iPhone and my Canon T3i. There were clouds, but the light didn’t look promising. Except for a few spotty pink streaks, the sky was gray.

I know from experience that the color can suddenly appear up to about 10 minutes after sunset, so I waited. But nothing happened. The sky continued to look gray with a few very minor streaks of color from time to time. When the clock got to 7:55 and there was still nothing worth photographing, I was disappointed.

I decided to quit waiting. I got into the car and started driving down the hill where I’d been waiting.

When I had driven almost completely down the hill, I suddenly looked up and saw an amazing pastel image of flaming shades of orange and pink mixed with gray and black. It was perfect, but I was now out of position.

I quickly turned the car around and got to a decent vantage point. It wasn’t quite as good a spot as where I’d been to start with, but it would still work. I jumped out of the car and had time to shoot about four frames — right before the vibrant rays of colorful light faded away just as quickly as they had appeared.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I don’t always have the time to respond. Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”
I’m currently taking a break from Facebook, but I periodically use Twitter, although I have very little to say that takes 140 characters of fewer.
On Twitter, it's @David_McElroy.
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