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David Todd McCarty

ESSAY

An exploration at how the paradox of options in modern life has elevated our expectations beyond reason and destroyed our confidence

Photo: Damir Spanic

In the movie “U-571”, Matthew McConaughey plays Lt. Tyler, a US Naval officer during WWII who is on a mission to capture a German Enigma machine. During the course of the action, his commanding officer is killed, leaving him in charge of a submarine.

After a brief moment of indecision in battle, his Chief, played by the legendary Harvey Keitel, pulls him side and says, “Sir, permission to speak freely. This is the Navy, where a commanding officer is a mighty and terrible thing. A man to be feared and respected. All knowing. All powerful. Don’t you dare say what…


ESSAY

There is a scene in the movie Bull Durham where the team is on a winning streak. Tim Robbins tells Kevin Costner, “I love winning. You know? Like it’s better than losing?”

I’m not competitive, but I hate losing. Everyone hates losing. I’m no different.

Losing to me is different from failure. I can try and fail at many things, and never find myself in competition with someone else. Failure is learning. Failure is improving. Failure is required for success.

Losing, on the other hand, is simply failing to beat someone else and I try not to concern myself with…


ESSAY

I’m well past the halfway mark in this journey through time and space. As a general rule we don’t live to be 106. Suffice it to say, I’ve grown accustomed to life as I know it. I’m what you might call set in my ways. So, when it comes to big, grand changes in our culture, I’m on the downward side of things. I try to stay current and relevant, but slowly and surely, things are beginning to extend beyond my grasp.

I’m not going to go too deep into the myriad of ways that I’ve begun to fall out…


ESSAY

Ever since FDR’s new deal reinvented the role of government in American society, the political right in America has been attempting to reverse this concept by focusing on taxes, specifically on cutting taxes and shrinking the role and size of government.

Since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been infatuated with the idea of trickle down economics, that a free market will naturally achieve abundance, and that the lower your taxes, the higher your standard of living will be. In the last decade, they have put all their energies into cutting taxes for the wealthy, dismantling agencies, repealing regulations, and undermining democracy.


ESSAY

Despite what modern culture proclaims, kindness is not a weakness

In American culture, we have a tradition of equating power with heartlessness. We have grown to expect our leaders to have a no nonsense, logical approach to solving problems without allowing their emotions or personal histories to influence them. The accepted theory is that it takes strength to make the hard decisions, and that we can’t expect to be ruled by our emotions when making tough choices.

Science, if you actually believe in such things as a logic and hard truths, tells a different story about how we make decisions. In 1995, Antonio Damasio, one of the world’s leading neurologists…


ESSAY

Dealing with anxiety

Self-portrait of the author.

The author Jodi Picoult says, “Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”

Which makes me think of a scene in the movie “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” when the main character Kim Baker is relaying a story of how she came to realize she was stuck in her life. She’s riding a stationary bike, day after day, and one day realizes that even after all the miles she’d logged, thousands and thousands of miles, the bike had actually moved backwards on the floor. …


ESSAY

We don’t all end up getting conservative as we age. Some of us go the other way.

Self-Portrait of the author.

The conventional wisdom is that we grow more conservative as we age. Presumably, we become less willing to take risks, more comfortable with the status quo, more fearful of change, less likely to try new things. My experience has been exactly the opposite.

For most of my adult life, I was concentrating on my career and raising a family. I didn’t think too deeply about politics. I was a registered Republican because I never bothered to change my party affiliation, which had been pre-formed, if you will, by my parents. I had long since switched party allegiances, but that’s how…


ESSAY

How do we maintain what we once had in abundance?

Jesus talked about children in a way that was entirely radical for the time. Culture didn’t worship and protect them like we do now. Life was more precarious. It was more like baby turtles where you figure half of them are never going to make it. No reason to get too attached to them until you were relatively sure they were going to make it.

In the animal kingdom, it’s the leaders, the alpha males, who are protected, not the babies. The fawn ventures out into the field to nibble on grass, and if no one shoots it or rips…


ESSAY

It’s hard to maintain perspective, but it’s the only path to sanity.

Live like your dying, they say.

I’m confident that if we found out tomorrow that we were dying, we’d be a lot happier with our present circumstances. I imagine I would be.

I heard this guy talk once. He was fighting cancer. It killed him eventually. But at the time he was fighting it. His doctors had him on a special diet which mostly consisted of foods he wasn’t allowed to eat.

One of the things he wasn’t allowed to eat was broccoli with cheese sauce. Something super random. …


ESSAY

Democrats need to begin thinking about the danger they face as a real existential threat.

“This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.” ― Amanda Hocking

Not even a few months into Joe Biden’s presidency, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that he was 100% committed to opposing every aspect of this administration’s agenda. All of it. On general principle, not because of a difference in ideology.

Everything in life is not zero-based. We don’t operate in a vacuum. We do not emerge fully formed in every situation. …

David Todd McCarty

Writer, director, photographer and journalist with an interest in politics, humor and garden gnomes.

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