Dear President Trump,
Perhaps there is some hope after all. Right now it seems to be just a tiny chink in the wall of rhetoric about immigrants without legal status, perhaps a tiny bit of doubt about the uncompromisingly harsh stance that has characterized your administration thus far. If you were to follow through and arrive at something more thoughtful and humane, that would be wonderful. I hope you do. I hope you can withstand the pressures from Bannon, Miller, and the rest and take things in a more reasonable direction. I also was pleased to hear that you have some sense that people aren’t leaving their home countries just for the heck of it. That they are leaving because their lives there are in danger or in jeopardy in some way and that long-term US and global stability will come only when other countries are providing safety and stability for their people. People need to have homes they want to stay in.
I got to visit Barbara Krueger’s installation at the Hirshorn Museum last week when I was there in DC for work. The installation is called “Belief + Doubt” and the end of the equation is “= Sanity.” I think you should see it. I love the idea that we are sane when we are somehow balancing the tension between belief and doubt and that we actually need both. If we only have belief and no doubt we are dogmatic and overly rule-governed. We cannot connect with others and we cannot handle things when they don’t conform to our rigid belief systems. If we have only doubt and no beliefs then we are completely untethered and have no moral or ethical compass. We are likely to be paralyzed with indecision. There may be some exceptional circumstances when only one or the other is a good idea, but generally, neither state is healthy on its own, they almost always need each other. Thus, I believe the citizens of the US and the world need you to actively engage with both your beliefs and your doubts. In almost all situations we need you to hear all of us and to truly listen to what different camps have to say. In almost all situations we need you to be thoughtful and skeptical. I dare say, though, that in all situations we need you to be sane (just as we need to be sane; it’s not all on you).
So in the interest of supporting you as you wrestle with the tensions between beliefs and doubts in so many crucial arenas,
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May your life unfold and intersect with ease.