I want to see myself and my child in people I don’t know

Dear President Trump,

You certainly haven’t earned the “Dear” but civility is important so the standard, respectful word is back in the salutation for now.

The suicide bombing in Manchester is understandably all over the news. It was a horrific attack on innocents. In trauma therapy there is often a pull for people to stack their traumas up next to other people’s traumas and decide theirs was either not nearly as bad or much, much worse than everyone else’s. People tend to wonder how the other can possibly still be apparently intact after what they’ve been through or why they are so broken after going through something seemingly trivial. In other words, we judge ourselves and each other pretty mercilessly and always with incomplete information. I’m bothering to go into all this because it’s been troubling me how much outrage and grief we can feel over an assault on people we imagine are like us while mustering next to no reaction to similar numbers of violently wounded and dead who we do not perceive to be like us. When there are lethal suicide bombing attacks in the Middle East in crowded open-air markets or outside of schools they might get a small mention below the seam of the paper. I hate to admit it, but I am largely unmoved by violent death in other parts of the world or by gang shootings in another city. Maybe it’s the limits of human capacity. I’ve met people who are deeply troubled by every piece of bad news from anywhere in the world and they have an incredibly hard time functioning in their lives, but I think they are brave to be so open and so democratic in their response to suffering. I personally don’t honestly aspire to this, but I do plan to continue to watch my responses and non-responses and to call myself out when I’m being hypocritical or insensitive. I want to see myself and my child in people I don’t know and whose lives I can’t really imagine.

These attacks are happening in a sociopolitical context and we aren’t going to stop them without digging deep into what is causing the alienation and desperation driving them. Listening doesn’t look so powerful and strong, but it will get us where we need to go much sooner than you mouthing empty slogans that only incite more violence on all sides.

May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May your life unfold and intersect peacefully.

Tracy Simpson

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