Archive for August, 2017

As humans live in slums, why do I complain about my privileged life?

by David McElroy

I’ve had a terrible day. It’s Friday evening after work. I’ve just eaten dinner. I’m sitting in a restaurant feeling frustrated and anger — partly at myself, partly at others.

I’m unhappy about multiple things. I’m lonely. I want to quit my job. I miss someone. I feel alienated from the people around me. I find myself thinking that life hasn’t been fair to me. (I could tell you why. I have plenty of reasons.)

And then I randomly saw this photograph.

Gautam Basu took this photo of an Indian mother and two of her children. The mother is dressing a daughter while a smaller child clings to her. The pipe in which they’re standing is their home.

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Why does the current concept of ‘human rights’ leave me queasy?

by David McElroy

Nobody could possibly be opposed to “human rights.” The idea sounds so pure and noble. So why does the phrase make me cringe?

When I speak of rights, I tend to speak of individual rights. That’s what the classical liberal thinkers had in mind a couple of hundred of years ago when they started recognizing rights. They realized that individuals had certain rights — to be left alone to live, speak, worship and trade as they wished. Politicians attempting to implement some of those ideas — such as the founders of this country after the split from Great Britain — did imperfect jobs of implementing the ideas, even though they were really good at quoting the rhetoric of individual rights. (If they had really understood their rhetoric, slavery wouldn’t have been made part of the Constitution, for instance.)

But since the beginning of the Progressive Era, people have talked about something entirely different. Influenced by Marxist ideas of rigid class structure, they slowly evolved the idea that groups have rights. To them, rights weren’t natural things which apply equally to every human. Instead, “workers” had certain “rights” just because they were part of a social or economic group. The idea was extended to other identifiable groups — women and racial minorities to start — and then kept expanding.

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If you made an error yesterday, it’s ‘foolish consistency’ to stick with it

by David McElroy

Most people are afraid to turn around when they’ve made a choice they’ve determined to be wrong. If they turn the wrong way down a road — confidently declaring it to be the way to go — they persist with the error long after it’s obvious.

We humans hate admitting we’re wrong.

We trap ourselves with our desire to be consistent, even if we don’t consciously know what we’re doing. Most of us are terrified of being seen as contradictory, so we’re afraid to reverse course and say, “I know I said X, but I was wrong and I’ve realized Y is the truth.”

Most people keep themselves locked into X long after they’ve realized Y is true, because they’re too weak to admit to having been wrong and forthrightly turn around. This is what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant in a widely misunderstood passage in his 1841 essay on “Self-Reliance.”

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Reaction to Googler’s memo says, ‘Diversity is good if you conform’

by David McElroy

I have no idea whether Google engineer James Damore is a bigot or not, but I am convinced that most of the people attacking him have proven themselves to be bigots by their responses.

Last week, Damore shared a 10-page memo on Google’s internal communication system. His thoughts have pushed buttons of millions of progressives, sending many into hyperventilating attack mode — because Damore outlined his views about why Google is approaching the issue of diversity very poorly. He claims that the company’s drive to promote women and minorities has resulted in a lack of ideological diversity instead.

Damore has been called all sorts of names, most of which use language I wouldn’t even repeat. If I ignore the attacks containing profanity, most of the least offensive among the rest claim he’s sexist and bigoted. Many people have called for him to be fired. Why?

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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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We're the Government — and You're Not
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