Archive for November, 2015

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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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 rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) 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.”

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