Dear President Trump,
I hope you were able to take some time to enjoy your birthday today. I’m guessing it was probably challenging and you may not have felt much like celebrating given all the awful things that happened. When the Waco siege and the Oklahoma bombing happened on my birthday just two years apart it started feeling like that day was cursed.
I think what you said about the DC shootings was very thoughtful and some of the kindest words you’ve spoken to the American people since you took office. I hope you will do more of this. Unfortunately there are gun-related tragedies happening most every day so there will be many more opportunities for you to offer comforting words and words that invite bridge-making rather than sow division.
The shootings today seem to have prompted some nascent soul searching over the devolution of the nation’s discourse to the point where we apparently prefer screaming and cursing at one another over anything resembling constructive conversation. Re-setting how we talk with one another will be a long-term, incredibly challenging project. It is easy to lament the state of things but finding our way out of this mess is going to take courage and significant sacrifice. Just as a start, I think we are going to have to be quiet and listen, we will have to cede ground to one another, we will have to let go of adrenaline-junky highs and big ratings that come with vicious attacks on one another, we will have to love people we don’t like, we will have to hew to the common good, we will have to say we are sorry when we mess up. We have grown so accustomed to big action and intense conflict that we are likely to find the sort of painstaking, slow, tedious, halting, sorting out and negotiating that is needed to be boring and hard to take. Kind of like going from watching Survivor to watching logs burn in a fireplace for hours on end, like they do in Norway. We are going to have to reset our expectations and maybe even our nervous systems to make the space for the kind of care we need to show one another. I’m holding out hope we can do this. We likely need to start small in our communities and it would most certainly help if you and other leaders would set good examples.
So here is a birthday blessing for you that I hope will inspire you to keep practicing comforting, conciliatory messages;
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May your life unfold and intersect peacefully.