January 2, 2021

Community is messy. Cults are “perfect.”

Community is messy. Frustrating. Sweet. Lots of work. Cults are “perfect.” Perfect doesn’t exist.


“Look at what we love. It’s on fire.” ~ Stephen Colbert

“…There are so many forces designed to prevent us from seeing each other, and to label each other and distance and fear each other…

If you can’t see somebody’s backstory, that’s how we end up reinforcing our prejudices, our biases, our fears, that’s how we then perpetrate cruelty on other people…

Pain is often some of the most profound experiences that we have. It leaves marks on us. It leaves scars. It shapes us. I want people to know that we all have, in common, loss. We all have in common disappointment. We all have in common that sense of things not being in our control that we thought were in our control. 

…as the world shrinks and cultures collide because of social media and the internet and 24/7 television, if we don’t learn to live together, we will perish. We can’t solve big problems like climate change or global inequality unless we can see each other and listen to each other and learn to work together.

…As Moses understood and Dr. King proclaimed in a speech just right before he got shot—we may not get there. But we can see it. And it’s on behalf of those beautiful children of yours and my daughters, and children everywhere, that we keep on fighting, to make sure they get there, even if we don’t.” ~ President Barack Obama


I just read the Vanity Fair in the hot tub.

My neck hurts from working too much, so the hot tub–along with Michelle’s bilingual yoga classes on Mondays, and a back massage machine I bought a few months back–is keeping me going in this Covid time when it’s harder to support our local bodyworkers (god bless ’em). Last month, my neck and back were in so much pain I struggled to work, let alone move or play.

Back to the hot tub: I was shocked at the low, or nonexistent, journalistic standards present in two of Vanity Fair’s articles—to the point that I considered unsubscribing. Then I remembered how longtime Elephant readers, every day, will read one Elephant article by one human being out there and comment, usually on Facebook, to hell with you, I’m unsubscribing!

And so that reminded me that—if we actually want to heal, to come together—we need to relearn how to acknowledge disagreement or criticism without turning one another into enemies—or quitting. Just as with any healthy relationship, we have to find a way to care, and constructively criticize, while letting go of any need for worship or perfection.

As I sometimes reply to such disappointed readers, we are not One Voice here at Elephant. We are a community. If you’re looking to agree with us 100% of the time, you’re looking for a cult.

A few of the other articles in Vanity Fair were inspiring, uplifting…with entire sections I wanted to paste up on my bulletin board, to pin to my memory (thank you, Colbert, and to the Obama interview).

And so it is with Elephant—we are often not as good as we should be, but we are always trying, I hope. To be of some real benefit. To offer a sane, humorful, modest, cathartic, genuine, ethical reference point in this angry, heartbreaking, wonderful world.

If you’re inspired to subscribe, it’d really help us out. We’re independent, unlike Facebook, Insta, Whatsapp, Pinterest, Twitter, Medium—every buck we make goes back into our editors and staff, to do good work for you, and to our writers (we pay 10 a week, chosen by you).

If you already subscribe, would you gift Elephant to a loved one who might need and enjoy it, and benefit from it.

If you don’t yet subscribe, please join—and if you already do, please open this newsletter, read, share an article—we will only make it through this year, with flying colors, if you are active in this community.


Become an Elephant Subscriber. Read unlimited, see fewer ads. Help us become a mindful social network that allows messaging between members, playlists for favorite articles to be shared, and reader-created groups in 2021. Let’s leave Facebook, Instagram, Twitter behind and create something ethical.


Photo: Elephant editor Emily with Redford “Scotch” Lewis.

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