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If You Do Nothing, Do It On Purpose

lone tree

 

This post has been deleted.

Why? Because partisan political appeals essentially filter this blog’s audience by political affiliation, and I want my audience to remain politically diverse. I don’t want to post that kind of content.

-David

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UPDATE (2/8/2017): A few people have commented that I shouldn’t have deleted it, assuming I’ve been “bullied” into it. For those interested, I explained my reasons in a comment below. Also, if you really want to read it, it is archived here on the Internet Wayback Machine.

I’ll explain why I deleted it. There are four reasons.

Don’t assume I was bullied, that’s not what happened. I got about eight emails. Only two of them I would describe as “hate mail”. I have received a lot more hate mail for other topics. I generally just ignore hate mail because there’s nothing to talk about with crazy shouting people.

It was a few email exchanges with some thoughtful people who took exception to the post. They were good about explaining why. They didn’t call me names.

Here’s why I deleted it:

1) It was mean in a way I don’t want my writing to be. Expressing my opinion wasn’t what was mean. It was something more specific: my post presumed any thinking person already agrees with my views on Trump. Basically I implied that any Trump supporters who read this blog might as well piss off because obviously I think they’re dummies or monsters. I didn’t intend to send that message but I’m not sure how else I expected them to hear it. I don’t want to filter my readers by their political beliefs, and this post was effectively doing that.

2) There was surprisingly little positive support for it. I got a few nice comments and two “Good piece, thanks for writing that” emails. Normally I get dozens of each, regardless of the topic. There was a conspicuous silence among my left-leaning audience and that surprised me a lot more than the pushback did. Honestly I was worried the post would go viral, and I’d have to contend with armies of angry people from elsewhere on the internet. But it was a dud. It seems obvious that even the readers who share my political sensibilities do not want to read about political activism when they visit Raptitude. This is just a basic “Why does my audience come here?” consideration.

3) Having audience members from far-off areas of the political spectrum is very valuable. If they are subscribers, that means we’ve found some common ground on some views, if not political ones. It is so damn difficult to get different parts of the spectrum to talk to each other, and we were, but many are no longer listening because I was tactless in my approach. I have always emphasized the importance of preserving the receptiveness of the audience when you’re trying to persuade people of anything. I burned that connection off to a certain segment, though, to make an ephemeral point about politics that others are already making anyway.

4) I don’t want the contributions I make on this site to be in the realm of partisan politics. That’s clear to me now if it wasn’t before. There’s no shortage of thoughtful pieces on current politics, written by people with much more insight on those topics, and people know where to find them. I have much more to offer on other parts of the “tree”, and as I said in the post I think it accomplishes more in the long run.

I agree with your basic sentiments about “speaking up”. I speak up all the time — that’s what this blog is, that’s my full time job, and what I say to the world through this platform is central to my life. But there are different ways of doing that. Political ephemera is quite a departure in tone and topic from what my audience expects and evidently wants from Raptitude, and signalling to right-wingers that they should get lost is at odds with what I think are more important messages of compassion and self-reflection.

If you want a good read on the dangers of Donald Trump, and what you can do about it, the Atlantic and Guardian articles I linked are much better what than I can offer.

 

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Camp Calm begins in early March

You probably know this, but I run an easy-to-do intro to meditation course a few times a year, designed for people who find meditation confusing,  boring or difficult. The registration date will be announced soon, so get on the mailing list now if you might want to participate. It’s always very popular and sells out quickly. If you might want to
join us this time, there’s more info here. You can also email me with any questions about how it works.

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Tree photo by Eflon

{ 77 Comments }

Anonymous February 5, 2017 at 11:47 pm

You’ve perfectly expressed what I’ve been thinking about for some time but haven’t been able to put into words, thank you.

My friends have been telling me that I’m being selfish by choosing to focus on being more conscious of my diet and practicing mindfulness throughout the day instead of following every news soundbite and showing up at their protest-du-jour. I had a suspicion they were wrong, but couldn’t put my finger on why until I read this post.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 9:16 am

To be clear I can’t tell you if one or the other is right or wrong. But it’s true that we all have our ideas about what’s useful and what isn’t.

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Jeff February 6, 2017 at 10:39 pm

I was thinking the exact same thing as I read this! I have been trying to explain it to family and friends without any luck. I am going to simply email this article to all of them :) haha.

All we can do is change ourselves. So why get stuck on the leaves, as David would describe it, when you can improve the roots?

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Zoe February 6, 2017 at 4:13 am

I truly believe that we can never understand ourselves perfectly (otherwise, what would be the point to life? Or art, for that matter?), but we should at least strive to understand as much as possible. Your article places this notion in wider context which I find really interesting. Thank you.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 9:18 am

Thanks Zoe.

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Heidi February 6, 2017 at 5:02 am

Thank you for this article and your willingness to step up and talk about the things which are not in your usual realm, as you say in the article. It is part of what you describe: facing the present situation many people who – so far – where not willing to enter in political discourse, step up and say what they need to say. That’s valid for myself, too. I cannot do just “nothing”. I believe in energetic influence on what is happening in the world, but my meditation practice is “not good enough” in ways that I feel it enough to participate in the call to create order out of the chaos. And the chaos is not yet visible in its totality. It makes fear, yes, but it is needed for something new to appear.

We have the responsibility to work for a positive change, for a positive emergence out of the chaos, and not risk the negative and destructive one. And that’s why we need ALL forms of engagement – but certainly not the “let’s hope” -thing, closing the eyes and denying reality. If “doing nothing” is done in that form it certainly helps the negative outcome – and is a huge DOING.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 9:25 am

I may be misunderstanding you but I want to be clear that the “doing nothing” in the title is not a reference to meditation at all. I just mean we often notice an issue and feel like we want to do something about it, but don’t. Each of us, on most issues, will do nothing, but we don’t necessarily confront that fact.

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Brenda February 6, 2017 at 7:18 am

Last week I read a Raptitude blog from 2010 titled “If society is sick, what should I do about it?”. This article partners perfectly with that one.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 9:26 am

Whoa that’s an oldie. I learned afterward that Krishnamurti probably did not say that. But the point is still worth discussing.

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Tonya February 6, 2017 at 8:35 am

I’ve been struggling about how to handle my feelings about Trump’s ridiculous executive orders and how I can best take action, but also take care of myself because we might be in it for the long haul like you mentioned. I do agree with you that the root of the problem is just that-the root. And it does take a really long time to make lasting change. I’m of the age where I can remember that there was no protection for women, gays, or even people of color in the workplace. I’ve witnessed far greater levels of intolerance than I’m seeing now. That’s progress!! I do think right now it kind of has to be both, so perhaps pick and choose your battles wisely? And don’t let anyone guilt you into doing something else if it’s not in your wheelhouse.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 9:32 am

Totally agree with “pick your battles”, and I think sustained effort is more useful big gestures. The progress has really been astounding though, especially in the last decade.

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Brady Faught February 6, 2017 at 8:42 am

Thanks David, the tree analogy is fantastic. Until our human species can collectively raise their consciousness and awareness, we will continue to be influenced by low-level stimuli such as news (read: entertainment for profit) and 140 character information bites. Your websites tools and techniques are just as important as any current events website for how we will change the world.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 9:35 am

Thanks Brady. Give me a decade and I think I’ll make a significant difference. But there are times when it makes sense to use short-term tactics.

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Don February 6, 2017 at 9:45 am

If you are a concerned citizen, but don’t want to mentally get wrapped up in political warfare I think a great alternative is a recurring monthly donation to the ACLU. You can add resources to the people who are on the front lines of the battle while not necessarily having to engage yourself. This helps with the problem of ‘what can I do?’ while being able to maintain your sanity.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 11:23 am

Thanks for the suggestion. The ACLU is suddenly at the center of things. In the first week of the new administration, the ACLU received 20+ million dollars in donations, whereas they usually get 3 or 4 million a year. It will be interesting to see what their role is.

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Mark February 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm

I’m a little disappointed in this post, on a personal level. I was really hoping you were about to address the overwhelming sense of unease most of us are experiencing at present, due, if we look at the situation dispassionately and in its wider context, not to the election of an individual nor to the policies of his administration (which are in themselves troubling, certainly) but to the breakdown of communication, the intolerance of ideas, the rise of identity politics and tribalism and the demonization of others and fueling it all, a hyper inflammatory media environment. These phenomena, of course, are on the rise on both sides of the “divide” and culture wide. Civilization, I fear, is under existential threat, not from political upheaval, which was ever thus, but from our apparent inability as individuals and as a society to navigate this sea, which is not just tumultuous, but disorienting. We are paralyzed or reactive, or both, and have yet to confront the reality that the enemy is us. All of us. For those of us who contemplate the depth of the chaos and its implications, the yawning abyss beckons horribly.

Worse yet, the environment which threatens to carry us toward it is toxic, and many of us, perhaps all of us, are feeling its effects. No one I meet feels at ease. No one knows what to do. There’s a level of anxiety I haven’t seen since the late 60’s, and which has emotional correlatives with the Cold War and WWII. But this time it’s different, because we all have a voice. I feel like I’m trapped in a room with a million people screaming at each other. You can’t listen when you’re screaming, and if you choose to only listen, you’ll quickly find that what’s reaching your ears is a literal cacophony of unresolved data points, half-formed arguments and attacks. There is no discernible pattern to the data, it’s just noise, so no real communication is taking place. Facebook has become a war zone, Twitter the front lines and, as far as I can see, no potential for moving of the lines if they could even be determined. So those with the most to say are becoming disillusioned and say less, engage less, while this with the most simple and unhelpful message fill the void.

I’m disappointed in this post because I was looking to you for what you do best — spiritual guidance. How do we stay sane? How do we not succumb to the rush of water filling our lungs? How do we relate and communicate meaningfully with others in a “with us or against us” culture, one where the utterance of a single idea not preapproved by one mob or another can destroy a sense of self-worth if not a career, sometimes in an instant. Perhaps you don’t see it yet, but I’ll bet that you do — intelligent, thoughtful and loving souls are withdrawing, not just from the conversation, but from the culture that’s hijacking it. It’s been said that the meek shall inherit the earth, but only if the earth left to inherit is recognizable and worth inheriting.

We need calm, we need tolerance and understanding, even of intolerance and a lack of understanding, if we are to move through this in toward any kind of positive outcome. And that starts from within. That’s the kind of leadership I was hoping for from this post, because I believe that this is what we need and will need more of in the future. If you can open is to the right way to cross a parking lot, surely you can help us with how to traverse a hurricane.

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Mark February 6, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Forgot to link my blog.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Hi Mark. I agree with most of what you’ve said. I do believe that above all we need to cultivate compassion and self-reflection, and said that explicitly. But I also made the point that sometimes more urgent responses with shorter-term effects are appropriate. I am in as good a position as anyone to just wait and see how the current administration will play out, being Canadian, non-muslim, self-employed and quite happy with my life. But that’s exactly the reason there is a danger of complacency here, of depending only on deeper, longer-term responses to humanity’s problems.

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mg February 6, 2017 at 8:59 pm

1. Huge thank you, again, David, for more thought-provoking wisdom. Your analogy of the tree is beautiful. Your sincerity, compassion, and willingness to ask the questions makes this blog something I read as soon as it comes out.

2. And thank you, Mark, for raising more issues — that I believe are the real “roots” of a lot of the mess we are in.

As one who came of age in the late ’60s /early ’70s, I feel the same angst as I did then. The same fears about war and a society being ripped apart from the inside.

I’m finding it almost impossible to engage in an open discussion about issues, what is true, what is hype, and what agenda runs the plays that bombard us. The throw-back to in-your-face confrontation and blaming vs a willingness to try problem resolution has effectively closed it down.

We seem very willing to talk to others who hold our biases, but not to listen to others who raises the possibility of an alternative. Does listening shows weakness, allows some gray area between all good and all evil?

It breaks my heart, and creates distrust when perhaps we are after the same goal, albeit by a different path. We yearn for the ability to lead our lives peacefully, make a living and support our families, feel safe and secure, strengthened by the best of what makes us (the US, for me) so different from other places to live.

I am proud to be part of the Melting Pot, that wonderful stew of different religions, ethnic identities, etc. I’m one American Mongrel who hopes we never lose this.

Thank you for allowing and gently keeping an open tone here, respecting your readers. Commenters, may we always behave appropriately and respectfully to each other and David.

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mg February 6, 2017 at 9:18 pm

PS — eagerly looking forward to your next Camp Calm!

I realize I may be feeding into the very thing I abhor — shouting about no one listening. Hmmm.

Personally, I’m more active in one-to-one local activities. Connecting to individuals in my current location, mentoring the younger generation to be braver than I was.

Brilliant post and comments, David.

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David Cain February 7, 2017 at 8:34 am

Beautifully said mg. I have learned a lot from the reactions to this post and I will share them in the future. In particular, I regret thinking that it didn’t matter whether I alienated the small segment of trump supporters in my audience. Obviously I disagree with their choice but the fact that they were readers at all means that we have already established common ground somewhere, and that is a rare and valuable thing I should have tried to preserve.

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Chris February 8, 2017 at 5:18 am

Sorry to disagree, but “that is a rare and valuable thing I should have tried to preserve” just doesn’t seem true to me.

I think we have WAY more common ground than we give credit for, and the things that divide us are in the minority.

Michael Gambill February 7, 2017 at 6:12 am

Mark, I concur with your perspective and you articulated it very well.
David, I reap tremendous benefit from Raptitude and hold your work in high regard, but in this article, I feel like you are inching toward encouraging what everyone else finds it necessary to do these days, pick sides. Be careful not to get drawn into this, it is a dirty business.

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David Cain February 7, 2017 at 8:59 am

Yeah I agree Michael. I think I accomplish much more on this blog by talking about more universal themes and leaving the partisan politics to other sites. I did make a bigger point in this post but it is lost on anyone who doesn’t agree with my take on the political part.

I think there is a place for picking sides, though, and everyone who chooses one candidate over another evidently does too. But there are better places for that.

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Ingrid February 6, 2017 at 2:25 pm

What a good article – as usual. And what a difficult thing to write about – I imagine you must have spent hours figuring out how to tackle this issue with words. I feel lost for words, everything is so complex. People are crying out for solutions – but have identified the wrong problem. Thank you for using your skills to write such enlightening articles.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Thanks Ingrid. I appreciate your saying so.

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randy hendrix February 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Hi David and thanks once again for another BRILLIANT article at JUST THE RIGHT TIME! Brady is right…the tree analogy is fantastic. I have to disagree with Mark however as you have, as usual, given great advice and let me know exactly how to continue to deal with the greatest cluster-fuck in all of American political history.

After watching the behavior of so many citizens after the 2008 and 2012 elections, and again during the 2016 campaign, I realize now more than ever just how deep the roots of the tree go. Interacting with people in a way that affects the way they think and feel about others and then have it evolve through generations is the only way to have a society that isn’t full of hatred for those who don’t happen to be pearly white and from this country.

You’re absolutely correct, “turning someone on to meditation influences the proceedings of the human experiment many times more profoundly than changing their mind on a propositional vote”. But you’re also correct that this practice of starting at the roots will take way, way longer.

Not sure if I will continue to try and make a difference by working on presidential campaigns as I did in the past three, but I will certainly continue to try and remain calm, kind and respectful when dealing with others. And when I’m asked where I find this peace I will continue to refer others to David Cain and Richard Carlson…I think this will make the biggest difference in the long run.

Thanks for the link to the Guardian article, it was a good read.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Aw thanks Randy. Just my politically-themed interactions this week, including ones over this post, have demonstrated to me how low the leverage is when working in the leaves. Debating singular political points with someone else is almost always a waste of time and I will avoid it in the future. I’m not sure if the overt political stances in this post were that useful compared to the more general point I was making, and in many cases probably got in the way. Like you I will continue to work on the deeper parts of the organism.

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Mark Kandborg February 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Thanks for your response, David. Just to be clear, I’m certainly not advocating inaction. Far from it. I’m just concerned when I look around me that action is coming more and more from a place of fear, intolerance and hatred, from all sides… which to my mind is worse than no action at all. So I guess I’m just looking for different viewpoints on how to stay spiritually and emotionally centred through this. We can do no good if we’re all drowning.

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David Cain February 6, 2017 at 8:23 pm

Ah, I see. There is a lot of fear, and it certainly was a contributing factor behind this post. What to do about it… well I do know that the more I meditate, the more my actions derive from compassion and a willingness to help. The best suggestion I have, which I know I should do more often, is metta meditation. It helps us reorient ourselves toward others so that we’re coming more from a place of compassion than our reptile brain. Here are some basic instructions on metta: http://www.freemeditationinfo.com/meditation-instructions/techniques/loving-kindness-meditation.html

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mg February 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Wow, David. Thank you for listening, and how you responded to my previous comment. I don’t want to pull this into more turmoil, but I believe the recent election was the most intense example of trying to keep both candidates out of office. Beyond the core of supporters on each side, large numbers wished we had another choice, and didn’t want either to win. We each have our own reasons for how we voted, or chose not to vote. May we learn something important from the experience.

How do we nominate this site for Blog/Blogger of the Year?

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Linda Myers February 7, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Such an articulate post! I like your tree analogy (root cause is part of my ongoing curiosity). For the last six months I have been involved in the work of a nonprofit called Do Your Part. They do disaster relief but now run a refugee camp in Greece. I have been there twice and will return next month. Life is very immediate there, and I know I am making a difference one on one. It has been one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Really, when we are engaged in doing real helping activities, we are being the best of who we are as people and as a species. Very glad you undertook this post.

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christine bell February 8, 2017 at 2:08 am

Oh no. I missed it. I would love to read – is it possible to send individually? I don’t know what you said, and I agree that politically ‘neutral’ space is important – and i support your choice to be true to your instinct. But I also want to encourage (more generally) some sort of engagement with ‘the political’. I have always wondered about the tension between focusing on self, and self-improvement, and being an active engaged citizen. Of course both are possible, but I feel they should connect more than they do in the blogosphere or generally (even though self-help etc encourage outward lookingness in a general sense). I do a lot of work with marginalised communities and people in my own country and abroad, and sometimes I think that all these blogs are just a western luxury. At the minute I feel it starkly. I think we are living in times the danger of which is unprecedented in my lifetime – it is bigger and more complicated than Trump (he is a symptom and not a cause – for some a cure for others a negative consequence). But I worry for my kids and the world we are creating. Thinking about how to be mindful etc, can feel like fiddling while rome burns. I don’t have answers – except i do think we need to have better answers. i believe strongly in celebrating political, religious and other difference rather than squashing it and from that perspective understand why the blog was pulled. But if this blog is about ‘getting better than being human’ – is there not a place to talk about our potential common values as humans, and the capacity of political leaders and structures to support the emergence of agreement on peaceful co-existence between us, or to further ‘dehumanise’ us. I make no comment about Trump, or the blog (which i remind I did not read before it was pulled). But i would say that the current debates about him in the US and abroad in a sense are debates as to what will make us secure and ‘great’ as peoples, what makes us FEEL secure and great as peoples (they may not be the same thing), and how we are going to relate to those who are different from us, and hold different identities and values. Similarly the Brexit debate in the UK has showed that about half the population feel diminished by being part of something bigger (the EU), while about half feel that they are made bigger and better by being part of something bigger. If we don’t find a way to create common community inspite of political differences we face local and global violent conflict in increased levels, and huge levels of social insecurity, and all our kids will have much worse lives than we have. All the mindfulness in the world won’t make it go away, even if we all attain personal perfection (and I don’t know about you but . . . ). We have to live on this planet together, with all our flaws and divisions – and to achieve this we need to have all communities – including the one that follws this blog- focused on human strategies to help us do this and they will only do this if they talk about it. As flawed humans we need to find ways to reconcile our instinct for individual autonomy with their need for community and co-existence. Of course, fixing ourselves enables all sorts of other existence. And we can do that while not mentioning the war, or mentioning the war. But I feel sometimes you have to mention the war: staying silent on vital issues of social justice and matters crucial to peaceful co-existence is no less neutral than speaking out.

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JoeJoe February 8, 2017 at 7:04 am
George H February 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm

I just read the archived post, and very sad to see that David allowed himself to be bullied into deleting it.

Since when does posting your opinion “mean”? “unfair”? How does it – in any way – puts others down? Some people didn’t like what David said, so they manipulated him into shutting up.

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 2:52 pm

You said it exactly: Trump is a symptom and not a cause. I typically characterize political strife as a symptom of our undeveloped capacities for compassion and understanding. But you know as well as I that if I start writing in terms of “marginalized groups” and “western privilege” then I am shrinking my audience down to a small group that already thinks the same as each other. I want to talk about the broader human motives behind the political specifics. It interests me more and in my view it is more effective. I actually do believe all the mindfulness in the world would make violence and xenophobia go away. But for those who don’t see the value in reforming the human instead of human constructions, there is plenty of polemical political discourse out there to get lost in.

It’s impossible never to brush the overtly political. I have since the beginning of this site eight years ago. But this post was a different tone, and compared to my usual topics hardly anybody liked it, even people from my own range of the political spectrum. It was a failed experiment and it helped me learn what I do best.

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Chris February 8, 2017 at 5:12 am

I didn’t get to read the first version, but I’d like to note that I think of my self as pretty liberal on most issues. I understand there’s waste in the government but I’ve also experienced all of the waste in the private sector. I get that it’s not black and white. But my point is, that my wife and I are pretty much on the same page, but there are STILL some topics where she and I don’t really agree, or are at least at different degrees on the spectrum. I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though liberal has one definition out there in politics (no guns, pro choice, pro government), it’s obviously not the case for everyone. Even if we generally agree on one of those topics, the other ones may vary a ton depending on our personal context.

The best we can do is to really think about why we think a certain way, and not just spout off whatever Rachel Madow or Ann Coulter is already spouted off this morning.

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Hi Chris. You can read it on the Internet wayback machine if you really want to.

I agree with you that there is a lot of nuance, and overtly political talk typically has the heat level turned up to 11 and the nuance meter turned down to 1. It’s an ineffective way to communicate about the broader values that make us even care about politics in the narrow sense, which is why I typically avoid it and should have this time.

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Linda February 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

I’m glad I kept your email newsletter so I could read this post. I honestly didn’t find it to be flippant or disrespectful at all. People read blogs to get a personal point of view from an actual human being that they find inspiring or relate-able on some level. It seems like a disconnect to me that you should worry about expressing a liberal point of view just because not every reader may be liberal. You’re right – everything is political! Beliefs and philosophies and ideas are politics. Unprecedented things are happening in the world right now and I am a little put off when I don’t see any comment one way or another from bloggers I follow and respect. There was not a lot of editorializing in your observations. Tyranny is a bad thing and it should be ok to say that. Even if some disagree. Because of politics.

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Hi Linda. I’m not worried about expressing a liberal point of view. I always have since the beginning of this blog. Whether or not everything is political in the broad sense, people do perceive a difference between broadly political and overtly political, and it evidently, almost nobody across the whole spectrum comes to Raptitude to read anything overtly political. Please see my response to George.

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George H February 8, 2017 at 1:31 pm

David, I just read the archived post, and I think you shouldn’t have deleted it.

Posting your own opinion on something is not “mean” or “unfair”. Do you realize that you’ve just been bullied into shutting up by people who didn’t agree with you?

And I want you to think about something else here:

Most people don’t “get” what’s going on or how serious the current situation is. Even those on the political left who are scared to death of what’s going on, are scared for the wrong reasons. This is not a liberal vs conservative issue AT ALL, and most people don’t realize that.

To be short (and blunt): When it comes to politics, most people (again – on both sides of the political map) are stupid beyond belief. Yeah, that’s rude of me to say, but I’m not afraid to say it because it is (1) completely true and (2) a dangerous state of affairs which cannot be ignored “in the name of being polite”.

And pretty much the only thing that sane people like you and me can do, is to speak up. The world needs more sane thoughtful people who speak up on these important matters, and if we allow ourselves to be bullied into silence then all is lost.

And again, this has nothing to do with the side of the political map we’re on. One does not need to be a “liberal” in order to be alarmed by what’s going on in America. Anyone who thinks this is a liberal vs conservative issue is completely misunderstanding the facts.

To summarize: David, please reread the title of your own post: “If you do nothing, do it on purpose”. If you refrain from speaking up, make sure you have a good reason to do so (and being bullied into silence by people who disagree with you is hardly a good reason).

P.S.

I’m pretty amazed that you’ve never got this kind of hate mail before, given the unorthodox nature of your blog. People who speak up against the trappings of society, usually get this kind of thing all the time (I speak from experience).

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Hi George. I’ll explain why I deleted it. There are four reasons.

Don’t assume I was bullied, that’s not what happened. I got about eight emails. Only two of them I would describe as “hate mail”. I have received a lot more hate mail for other topics. I generally just ignore hate mail because there’s nothing to talk about with crazy shouting people.

It was a few email exchanges with some thoughtful people who took exception to the post. They were good about explaining why. They didn’t just call me names.

Here’s why I deleted it:

1) It was mean in a way I don’t want my writing to be. Expressing my opinion wasn’t what was mean. It was something more specific: my post presumed any thinking person already agrees with my views on Trump. Basically I implied that any Trump supporters who read this blog might as well piss off because obviously I think they’re dummies or monsters. I didn’t intend to send that message but I’m not sure how else I expected them to hear it. I don’t want to filter my readers by their political beliefs, and this post was effectively doing that.

2) There was surprisingly little positive support for it. I got a few nice comments and two “Good piece, thanks for writing that” emails. Normally I get dozens of each, regardless of the topic. There was a conspicuous silence among my left-leaning audience and that surprised me a lot more than the pushback did. Honestly I was worried the post would go viral, and I’d have to contend with armies of angry people from elsewhere on the internet. But it was a dud. It seems obvious that even the readers who share my political sensibilities do not want to read about political activism when they visit Raptitude. This is just a basic “Why does my audience come here?” consideration.

3) Having audience members from far-off areas of the political spectrum is very valuable. If they are subscribers, that means we’ve found some common ground on some views, if not political ones. It is so damn difficult to get different parts of the spectrum to talk to each other, and we were, but many are no longer listening because I was tactless in my approach. I have always emphasized the importance of preserving the receptiveness of the audience when you’re trying to persuade people of anything. I burned that connection off to a certain segment, though, to make an ephemeral point about politics that others are already making anyway.

4) I don’t want the contributions I make on this site to be in the realm of partisan politics. That’s clear to me now if it wasn’t before. There’s no shortage of thoughtful pieces on current politics, written by people with much more insight on those topics, and people know where to find them. I have much more to offer on other parts of the “tree”, and as I said in the post I think it accomplishes more in the long run.

I agree with your basic sentiments about “speaking up”. I speak up all the time — that’s what this blog is, that’s my full time job, and what I say to the world through this platform is central to my life. But there are different ways of doing that. Political ephemera is quite a departure in tone and topic from what my audience expects and evidently wants from Raptitude, and signalling to right-wingers that they should get lost is at odds with what I think are more important messages of compassion and self-reflection.

If you want a good read on the dangers of Donald Trump, and what you can do about it, the Atlantic and Guardian articles I linked are much better what than I can offer.

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George H February 8, 2017 at 5:45 pm

“1) Basically I implied that any Trump supporters who read this blog might as well piss off because obviously I think they’re dummies or monsters.”

No. At most, you implied that the people who say “Trump is great!” (and not all Trump voters believe this!) have made a grave error in judgement.

Which is 100% true.

Now, I agree this still would be a very problematic thing to say in a politically neutral blog. But you didn’t say it and didn’t even mean to imply it. Your post wasn’t directly about Trump or his supporters. Should we be afraid to openly speak about the dangerous mess the world is in, just because some people might be offended by the “implications”?

Sure, you don’t want to turn your blog into a political thing. But posting ONE post under the current VERY EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES is not something you should worry about.

I’m sorry, but any person who thinks the current situation is good – has a problem. This isn’t a politics issue. This isn’t a left-vs-right issue or a liberal-vs-conservative issue. It isn’t even an issue of “Trump is bad” or not. Trump is just symptom of a world gone mad, and this madness is the problem we need to address rather than this one man.

And your original post did that thoughtfully and sensitively. Really, I don’t understand all the complaints you got AT ALL.

“2) There was surprisingly little positive support for it.”

That’s no longer true. Take a good look around in this comment section.

So if your reason was a fear of “alienating people”, you might want to reconsider. There seem to be more than 8 people here who are very put off by your choice of killing that post.

“3) I burned that connection off to a certain segment, though, to make an ephemeral point about politics that others are already making anyway.”

First of all: I don’t recall ever reading a piece so neutral and sensitive as yours. I’m sick and tired of all those fear-mongering articles in the media, and even sicker at all those people who are afraid to deal with the fact that the world is on fire “because we don’t do politics here”.

Your blog post striked a balance that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It wasn’t perfect in this respect, but it was miles ahead of anything else I’ve ever seen on these topics.

Secondly, you said you got 8 complaints by e-mail. Eight. Don’t you think that your just a little-bit over reacting here?

And really, if anyone ditches your blog just because of one post that offended them, then there wasn’t really any “connection” in the first place.

“4) I don’t want the contributions I make on this site to be in the realm of partisan politics. That’s clear to me now if it wasn’t before.”

I agree 100%.

However, your post wasn’t really that political. You might have TRIED to make it political, but your true self shone through. It was a very good piece, and a very unique piece.

“If you want a good read on the dangers of Donald Trump, and what you can do about it, the Atlantic and Guardian articles I linked are much better what than I can offer”

Yeah, IF we want to read “on the dangers of Donald Trump”, we certainly don’t need you.

But if we want to read a balanced and concerned post about the current state of affairs, which isn’t afraid to point out what’s going on without all the real fear-mongering going on in the media (and without mentioning Trump even once!) – well, can you tell me of single place to find such a thing?

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 8:41 pm

One simple point that might make it clearer: deleting this post was the consequence of a decision I made yesterday about the content philosophy of this site, not about the repercussions of this post in particular.

David Cain February 8, 2017 at 8:15 pm

I’m not going to argue all these points with you George. Of course you don’t see the problems I see with it, because it’s not your site. And of course you don’t see the problems the post’s critics saw with it, because you’re not one of them. Is it too much to ask to respect my judgment?

That is the whole problem with direct political debate — it is almost impossible for us to see a decision another way because we’re so strongly invested in our moral intuitions about it. We dig in, hold on, deflect new reasoning. It’s a dead end for learning anything new, which is why I typically avoid it, and should have this time.

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Cathey February 8, 2017 at 2:20 pm

I’m brand new here but please believe me when I say you shouldn’t feel badly about anything. There’s no need to apologize for speaking your truth, and surely no need to self-censor by deleting a post that expressed what you felt unless you no longer feel that way.

And it’s clear that I’m not the only one here who believes, with you, that there really IS “only one defensible position to take on the new president”.

We all need our courage now more than ever. Keep up the good fight and don’t water yourself down trying to please everyone. You lose your grip on Truth that way, which helps no one and nothing.

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for the support Cathey, but I believe that feelings of regret are worth examining, because sometimes they signal something that could have been better, or should be undone. “Speak your mind and don’t worry about hurt feelings” is what we were all taught yes, but it is a platitude and I think there’s a lot more nuance to consider. Please read my response to George above if you want to better understand why I deleted this post.

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Cathy February 8, 2017 at 4:16 pm

David,

I loved it and shared it with many people today before you took it down. They loved it as well. Such a great way to explore something that many are grappling with. We are most certainly in unchartered waters and finding our feet is difficult. Reading your post this morning was nothing but helpful.

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Hi Cathy. Please read the reasons I deleted it. I think they are good ones.

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Kurt February 8, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Man, you’re thinking too much. Relax.

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David Cain February 8, 2017 at 9:40 pm

I’m quite relaxed, but whether I am or not I still have to make decisions for this site. The other day I had an important insight about what kinds of things I do and don’t want to publish here, which was triggered by several different reactions to this post, and not just the critical ones. I’m glad I had a reason to give thought to it. This site is my livelihood and a big part of my identity so you can understand why it would matter to me more than to you.

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Carol February 9, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Dear David,
I was surprised and pleased when I saw today that you had deleted your post. I’ve been
trying not to think about how disappointed I was in it. I have always respected you and your writing for its thoughtful, humane and apolitical views. I can go to a multitude of websites for political bitterness and anger, which is how I personally felt when I read it, whether it was meant that way or not. I come here for peaceful, calming ways to center myself and I felt let down. My faith in you has been restored! Thank you! You continue to grow in your wisdom and demonstrated it by reconsidering your words.

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David Cain February 9, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Thanks Carol. I’m not particularly worried about sharing opinions that offend people and I do that on a regular basis. The post wasn’t an airing of anger but an offer of help for people who agree there is a crisis and don’t know what to do. But direct political talk is divisive in a way that I think works against my bigger goals for this site, and it’s also not what people come here for.

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Annette February 9, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Dear David, I am glad you took down this post. I am concerned about mainstream media. If only people will take the trouble and time to go to source documents; like the Majority Staff Report to the Senate regarding Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy or the actual Executive Orders and not buying into sensational CNN headlines. Read the Executive Orders and compare it to other Executive Orders by other presidents. I have to admit that that would probably proof a bit too much for the average headline reader, but I would think not for you. Maybe this is what you can offer as advise. If I were an American I would have voted for Donald Trump. I admit that I find things he say and do alarming but I found Hillary Clinton “having Planned Parenthood’s back every day of her presidency” and a few other things regarding her even more alarming.

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David Cain February 9, 2017 at 9:19 pm

I guess we all have our priorities.

By the way there are better sources of information than CNN. Throwing out the “mainstream media” like it’s some uniformly untrustworthy institution is ridiculous. Consult many sources, be skeptical.

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Kevin Lewis February 9, 2017 at 9:54 pm

Hi David,

I just wanted to comment due to your first two reasons for dropping the post… particularly number 2. I wholeheartedly agreed with your article, and don’t want you to feel that just because people weren’t commenting, they don’t agree with you. I have actually been surprised that I haven’t seen more of this from the bloggers I follow. There is an obvious elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about because it is almost guaranteed to be depressing. Regarding #1… I don’t think that there is any getting around the fact that all Trump supporters are either monsters or idiots. It wouldn’t be fun to print that if you have a blog because you will get tons of vitriol, but there really isn’t any way around it. Donald Trump has been so horrible, in so many ways, so publicly, and so consistently that anyone who supports him either willfully won’t see that, or they share those qualities. Trump supporters do not need to be “wooed”. They need to be opposed. And your article as a call to action on that is exactly what is needed. I generally avoid politics, I hate arguments, and I believe in minding your own business. But I think there is a very high likelihood of a very dark future if opposition to this administration doesn’t find a way to organize.
Elie Weisel. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

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George H February 10, 2017 at 5:55 am

Kevin, are you a regular reader of Raptitude?

If you are, then you’re probably aware that we are all idiots regarding certain things. Humans are really *really* bad at making good decisions. Our emotions and preconceptions blind us and cause us to do (and think) really stupid things.

So yes, people who actively support Trump have a huge blind spot. So? There’s no need to get on this high horse and call them stupid, because WE are just as stupid about other things.

Besides, you can’t fight darkness and hate and fear by bringing in more darkness and hate and fear. Treating the opposition as “idiots and monsters” is just making the situation worse. Quite frankly, the violent worldwide erruptions after Trump was elected are scarier then anything Trump himself ever said or done.

This is exactly why I liked David’s original post. He did *not* personally attack those who support Trump, yet wasn’t afraid to give his (very grim) analysis of the current situation or call for action. It was a refreshingly cool-headed voice in a mad world. It’s a real shame that he was guilt-tripped into shutting up.

And now back to our regular programs, with two camps of people accusing each other of being monstrious idiots. Not sure how this will get us out of this mess, but whatever.

(By the way, it is exactly this mob mentality from Clinton supporters that got Trump elected in the first place)

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David Cain February 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

Thanks George. The “attack” I made was subtle, but you definitely would have noticed it the same case was made against a candidate you voted for. I said things like “You may even be happy about the new regime”, as though it’s almost preposterous that a person could be. I made a kind of token acceptance of other viewpoints, but the tone of the post took for granted that smart people voted against Trump, and that’s an assertion I don’t want to stand behind. The reason we are in this mess is because we’re not interested in learning why people have very different moral assessments than ourselves, and I didn’t want to contribute to that kind of apathy.

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David Cain February 10, 2017 at 9:41 am

Thanks for your thoughts Kevin.

As I’ve said several times now I didn’t delete it to woo Trump supporters or avoid hate mail. The reactions to this post, both positive and negative, made me think about what kind of content I want on this site, and I don’t want partisan pleas on current political developments, for several reasons. If you want more detailed reasoning than I’ve already shared about why I think this post was a bad idea, read the article I link below.

I don’t think that there is any getting around the fact that all Trump supporters are either monsters or idiots.

This is something I no longer believe, and I think this kind of “Obviously they’re idiots” partisan dismissiveness is exactly why Donald Trump is president right now.

And it’s obviously untrue. It would mean that intelligence and psychopathy align with geographic regions, and between urban/rural populations, etc.

I’m really interested in moral psychology at the moment — there are interesting reasons why otherwise smart people can make decisions that seem insane to another person. This article is fantastic and will explain some of the thoughts I’m having about politics at the moment:

What makes people vote republican?

The Elie Weisel quote is a nice platitude, but it could be used to justify any stance on anything, because everyone thinks they’re on the right side. We each have to decide how we are going to address what we see as injustices, and I don’t take for granted that partisan political rhetoric on my blog is the best way for me to do it.

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Kevin Lewis February 10, 2017 at 8:55 am

I am a regular reader of Raptitude. I almost always find something thoughtful and of value in David’s posts. He thinks critically, is reflective and I almost always learn something, even when I don’t completely agree with them.
“Quite frankly, the violent worldwide eruptions after Trump was elected are scarier then anything Trump himself ever said or done.”
I’d encourage you to consider if that statement is really true, or if it is just a deflection to distract from Trump’s policies. Initiation of federal review of scientific data before reporting results, preference for christianity over islam in travel, dismantling of environmental regulations, dismantling of financial regulations, preference to state favorable press and reduced access for unfavorable press, increased military escalation and the threat of nuclear force, increased use of false or misleading data in public communications, increased portrayal of muslims and hispanics as “the enemy”, denigration of an independent judiciary, hiring of cabinet that is unqualified (Devos), hostile to minorities (Sessions), or hostile to humanity (Bannon). These are just a few of the things that are more threatening than the “eruptions”. I agree that it was an “us against them” mentality (helped along by our predisposition to racism and sexism) that helped get us here, and I don’t think anyone has the answer to how we get out of this. My point is this… Trump’s personality and his policies are so far from the realm of acceptable for a president of the United States that that you do a disservice by treating both viewpoints as valid. Republican or Democrat, supporting Trump is disgusting and it should always be portrayed as such.
“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” Mark Twain

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Kevin February 10, 2017 at 10:04 am

One other thing… I think another thing that got Trump elected is that the conservative media outlets are very good at repetition. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, emails, emails, emails, crook, crook, crook, illegals, illegals, illegals, terrorist, terrorists, terrorists, thugs, thugs, thugs, take your guns, take your guns, take your guns. If you keep on repeating the same things over and over people will believe them. An argument in comments sections or a verbal argument is rarely going to cover more than one or two topics. It doesn’t matter that there are 30 problems with one side and 3 with the other. The NRA has done wonders politically with a very vocal minority. So don’t be a shrinking violet. You don’t want to look back a couple of years from now and ask ” Is there anything I could have done to keep this from happening?” Challenge ignorance and fight for what you believe America should be…or it is going to become something else.

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Abhijeet February 11, 2017 at 5:48 am

I missed this post. It has been an interesting challenge for me, and I am assuming a lot of other people, to find groundedness and inner peace in these times. I have tried to avoid making any assumptions about what is the best strategy to live through these times. The more I meditate, the less I trust generalized thoughts. As long as I come from a place of compassion, I assume I am doing it right. Sometimes the best strategy is to just observe myself (whatever is going on) for sometime, and that itself has been incredibly helpful/healing/constructive. Meditation or mindfulness is not inaction. It is being more aware of what is going on, including what is going on in the inner self.

Often times, I find face to face interaction with another human being is more constructive than an ideological exchange on the internet or any other form of media.

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David Cain February 11, 2017 at 9:15 am

Well said Abhijeet.

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Greg February 11, 2017 at 8:25 am

David, I love what you write and I have been a quiet reader for a little while. I’m sure what you wrote was thoughtful and insightful – I am sorry to have missed it. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be on the Wayback archive. All I can find is the “this post has been deleted”.

Thanks for your wonderful blog.

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David Cain February 11, 2017 at 9:16 am

Hi Greg. Oh weird… I guess the wayback machine trims its archives on an ongoing basis.

In any case, the post did have a useful non-partisan point, an analogy, which I will write about in future posts. So you didn’t really miss anything irreplaceable.

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David Smyth February 11, 2017 at 10:19 am

I missed the original article, but if anything I’m disappointed not by the fact that the article was posted (or removed) but by the amount of criticism from both sides that David is getting for just being a human, anyone is capable of making a decision and then deciding it was a mistake, that’s what growth is all about, if anything he’s displaying one of the very traits Raptitude is known for encouraging, I have nothing but respect for that.

I completely understand the motivation for removing it and I think that some of the comments above just confirm that it wasn’t a good fit for this site.

Encouraging mindful behavior, tolerance, compassion and growth are all noble ends in themselves and a worthy aspiration for Raptitude (though I appreciate that not all of those words I used are perhaps in the mission statement for this site) without mentioning any political motivations, since I think those things transcend politics in the first place.

That said, I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that people who purport to be striving to nurture those traits would for the most part demonstrate them and not their opposite.

Thank you, David, for staying true to your intentions for this site, looking forward to the next article as always.

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David Cain February 11, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Thanks David.

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J. Money February 11, 2017 at 10:40 am

Dang – now I REALLY want to read this one, haha… a bit late to the show here, but good for you for making a tough call. I’ve only ever deleted 1 blog post of mine over the 9 years and it was because the writer of it (it was a guest post) started getting threatened and the whole comment section became toxic. First time that’s ever happened and you def. don’t want to be encouraging it, so delete it was!

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David Cain February 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Has to be done sometimes! As you know it isn’t easy to constantly be putting opinions out there for scrutiny in front of thousands of people. I do my best and that’s all I can do.

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Jack Gregoire February 11, 2017 at 12:23 pm

I started reading your site a couple years ago and probably haven’t read everything, but don’t remember anything overtly political in your writings. I guess that’s why I was a little surprised to see the now deleted post.

Strange that you would allow such prejudiced bias to flow into the screen. It’s remarkable to me that you would assume total homogeneity in your readership when it comes to political beliefs.

I guess according to you, im one of only a handful of conservatives who reads your site. But, I promise you, I can counter with two arguments any one argument you can you offer in defense of a liberal ideology, but that isn’t why I read you. I agree with some of your reasons for deleting the post, but humorously and ironically, some of your reasons for deleting the article are retreads of your own personal bias that caused you to post it originally.

Candidly, you succumb to the group think that renders liberalism to a few Gateway cities and almost nowhere between. You think because you surround yourselves with those who think like you that everyone does. If anything should have alerted you to the contrary, it’s a few minutes of analysis of the most recent national election results.

No harm, I’m still an avid reader :). Best, Jack

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David Cain February 11, 2017 at 3:41 pm

We’re all biased, we all have political leanings, and beliefs about all kinds of institutions. Virtually everything I write comes down on one side or another some issue. Last week’s commented on capitalism. Before that was modern lifestyle choices, before that drug use. I have beliefs and I share them all the time.

If you’re looking for some kind of dispassionate, objective discussion on any topic, you won’t find it here or anywhere else. But as your rather bitter comment suggests, there’s something particularly upsetting about stating one’s beliefs about an incumbent US president. For some reason nobody can keep their temper when the topic comes up.

I need to respond to this though:

Candidly, you succumb to the group think that renders liberalism to a few Gateway cities and almost nowhere between. You think because you surround yourselves with those who think like you that everyone does.

Yes, like all of us I am affected by an echo chamber effect, and that was part of what I was responding to when I deleted it. But you’re doing the same thing right now; the world is not limited to the United States. The kind of liberalism you believe is anomalous to a few American cities (it isn’t) is prominent throughout the developed world. There is little support for Trump outside rural America.

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George H February 12, 2017 at 4:31 am

“The kind of liberalism you believe is anomalous to a few American cities (it isn’t) is prominent throughout the developed world. There is little support for Trump outside rural America”

Actually, the liberal/conservative divide is about 50/50 all over the developed world.

But then, the average non-American conservative wouldn’t support Trump either. A conservative englishman has no reason to cheer when he hears statements like “We’ll make America great”. Those words are actually more likely to scare a conservative englishman than a liberal one.

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George H February 12, 2017 at 4:20 am

Quite frankly, Jack, I think that treating this as a liberal vs conservative issue is missing the point.

The problem is that the world has gone mad, and both sides of the political map share the blame here.

It is the liberal Obama we need to “thank” for much of the current turmoil in the world. And if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “All Trump supporters are idiots” I would have been a rich man. No doubt, the Clinton supporters have spread as much hate and fear as the Trump supporters (and it wasn’t the Trump supporters who rioted and burned cars when the election was over).

And then there’s Trump. The problem with him isn’t the party he is leading. Conservative Presidents have been elected before, but I don’t recall Bush (for example) making openly racist statements or advocating “alternative facts” alla Orwell’s 1984. These are problems that conservatives should be worried about too (unless you want to claim that racism and dishonesty are conservative values, which you probably don’t).

Of-course, 90%+ of the voters (on both sides) don’t get it. They never do. This is exactly why the popular votes of ANY election end up at about 50-50. This is also why political debates are more about “which candidate gives a better show” and less about the real issues at hand.

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Dennis February 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Given the essence of this site, and shutting out the ugly, annoying noise of politics, sounds as if your reflection hit the mark. What matters now is the wise course you took in responding. Standing. Clapping.

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David Cain February 11, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Thank you Dennis. I’m getting lectures from all sides now, but it doesn’t matter because I know I’ve done the right thing.

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Jack February 13, 2017 at 11:24 am

David and George, thank you for the responses. All very interesting to me and very much appreciated. Best!

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Paul February 15, 2017 at 11:58 pm

The emotions felt by some that the world will end because of Trump are the same emotions that were felt by others because of Obama four and eight years ago.

As troubled as some are by Trump, just as many were troubled by Obama.

The pendulum continues to, and will always, swing.

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