Archive for August, 2017

Children’s simple joy and innocence pierce my heart and bring me hope

by David McElroy

It always starts with children’s laughter and joyous shouts.

Their laughter can turn pain to joy. Their excitement can bring new hope. Their infectious smiles can make me feel that I can once again join them in their innocent love of life.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m at a Chick-fil-A and there are lots children here for a Thursday night. I’m watching families. Parents and young kids. There are a couple of small groups that seems to be just mothers and children. There’s a father who’s come to eat alone and visit with his son who works here at the same time.

I’m at a table near the back and it seems as though every child has to come by here with a mom or dad on the way to a restroom, either skipping along on foot or riding in a parent’s arms. It’s loud and it’s busy. But something about it all makes my heart happy.

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Emptiness can bring sudden panic that feels like being stalked by fear

by David McElroy

It happens when I’m driving. Or when I’m taking a break from work. Or in the split second when I’m waking up.

It happens a dozen times a day. Maybe more.

It’s a sudden realization that something is wrong — but I can’t remember what it is. That jolt makes me feel panic, as though there’s some terrible unspoken thing that threatens me — something I just can’t put my finger on. Something I can’t quite pull from my foggy memory.

The panic is physical. It does something in the center of my chest.

My heart starts to pound. In a brief instant, I become something like a caged animal ready to strike out at danger. But what is the danger? What is the threat? Why can’t I see it? What can’t I remember?

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What do you do when it feels as though your entire world is over?

by David McElroy

A human life comes to an end only once, but the spirit can die multiple times. In every life, there are a few painful deaths — deaths of dreams, of relationships, of hopes — that make it feel as though the world has come to an end.

I had to face one of those devastating and painful deaths tonight.

I loved her. I probably always will. Each love of your life feels special, but this one was different. How many hurts will I take to my grave as unresolved pain? Not many. Most losses don’t matter that much in the long run. But this is one that I will think about — and bitterly regret — on the day that I die.

I’ve known her for years. From the first time we ran into each other online about 13 years ago, I knew she was special. I wanted to pursue her at the time, but we went our separate ways instead. We remained the most casual of friends, almost never making contact until a bit more than three years ago.

And then she turned my world upside down.

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What if I hadn’t been afraid to follow Paul Finebaum’s advice 20 years ago?

by David McElroy

I was ushered into a conference room at radio station WERC-AM. As I sat at a wooden conference table, Paul Finebaum sat across from me. He was flanked by a couple of guys from the production staff of his popular Birmingham radio talk show.

I was nervous and hoped it wouldn’t show.

It was sometime in the mid 1990s, but I can’t recall the year. The show had run a contest to find guest hosts from the audience to be on the air one week in the summer when Finebaum would be on vacation. It was called the Finebaum Fantasy Fill-in.

I had completed a written application to be considered, but I had no idea whether I had a shot. I was excited to get the call to tell me I was one of the ones being interviewed for a slot. And now here I was facing Finebaum and his producers.

In person, Finebaum wasn’t the caustic personality I had known on the air. He seemed strikingly intelligent and almost quiet. On the air, he was boisterous and loud. In the interview, we somehow hit it off.

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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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