Back in the spring of this year, Andrew Sullivan offered a gloomy apocalyptic vision of the future for democracy in his adopted country of the United States of America.

The freedom he argued that is a fundamental characteristic of true democracy “is inherently unstable,” and dooms democracy eventually to failure.

This is true because democratic freedom means

the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending. And…. all the barriers to equality, formal and informal, have been removed.

Then Sullivan suggested we have reached  “what might be called late-stage democracy.” Sullivan went on with a frightening chill in his voice, to say that when we reach “late stage democracy”, “Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.”

And so Sullivan concluded, in the current political arena, Donald Trump is for democracy “an extinction-level event” (

Many people who are Trump supporters have been driven into his camp by fear. Confronted by the slightly chaotic realities that the freedom necessary for democracy inevitably includes, they fear that “law and order” have been sacrificed to personal freedom. They are frightened that W.B. Yeats extraordinarily prophetic poem written in 1919 is about to be fulfilled:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

But is it true? Has the falcon lost touch with the sound of the falconer’s voice? Has democracy embraced so much freedom that chaos is the only possible reality for the future? Are we on the edge of apocalyptic violence? Should we, like James Dobson, be “scared to death” of Hilary Clinton?

I may be a naive Pollyanna unwilling to face reality, but I am not persuaded by the dystopian vision of Donald Trump and his hysterical tribe. Certainly there are things wrong with the world. There is terrible inequity between rich and poor. There is injustice, inequality, poverty, violence, and at times deep chaos ripping much of the American social fabric. If you read only print and internet news or watch the nationally syndicated coverage that passes for news on television, without ever engaging with any real people in the world, you may be forgiven for getting the impression that darkness and violence are the dominant reality in the human community today.

But, if you step away for a moment from the gloom that drives modern purveyors of the media entertainment industry and encounter some real people, you will almost certainly see a different reality. I meet people every day whose lives are characterized by gentleness, kindness, compassion, respect, costly self-sacrifice, and an open welcome for everyone.

I see people exercising forgiveness in the midst of terrible pain. I see genuine nobility and love at work in so many peoples’ lives. I see people extending themselves towards others with kindness and generosity.

The freedom that is at the core of democracy, does not cause “Mere anarchy” to be “loosed upon the world.” It liberates human beings to find their true centre and to listen deeply to the voice of the “falconer.” Everywhere this deep listening is taking place, light shines and hope is born. We do not need to batten down the hatches and bar the doors against the marauding hordes. There is plenty of goodness and lots of good news out there for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.