Super American

Dear President Trump,

You probably know something about the quest to find easy ways to look better; it seems to be one of the things that binds us Americans together. Well, the other week we got a toothpaste kit promising whiter teeth. Our toothpaste kit came with two tubes of product; a “deep cleanser” you use for one minute and one for “brilliant shine” you apply for a second minute. I’ve been following the instructions for at least 10 days and I’m not seeing any improvement, but I’m feeling hooked by the weird procedure and the faint hope it will work if I persist. All of this feels super American but what feels potentially even more American is that I know I’d be tempted to go for the “brilliant shine” over the “deep cleanser” if I were feeling rushed or lazy. I’d rather spend that precious minute on the promise of looking good and would let go of the part meant to get into the crevices and below the surface. What about you?

I realize this excursion into the realm of tooth brushing is odd but I offer it because it sums up the priorities of many of us in this country; gotta look good on the surface even if we are rotting and dying inside. I’m not on Facebook but my sense is it pulls for this sort of gloss — everything is great with me, look at all these awesome fun things I’m doing (even though I’m broke and my kids won’t speak to me). It fosters a great deal of alienation since we half believe everyone else’s happy holograms but know what is really going on with us. And all this is symptomatic of what we as a country have been doing since our founding, touting our awesome great freedoms while glossing over the fact that they were actually meant just for those born white and male and preferably into privilege. We gloss over the cruelty of the Declaration of Independence claiming equality for all men and the right to pursue Life, Liberty, and Happiness. What about women? children? slaves? (how can holding other people in bondage even be part of this equation?) Natives? Obviously none of us alive today can go back and press a “reset” button and write the document so it’s inclusive and make the entire culture fair and free for all. But if we want to stop rotting from the inside out, I think we have to grapple with all this so we can actually form a more perfect union.

May we all be safe to pursue full lives.
May we all be truly happy and unhook from gloss.
May we all be healthy and strong enough to face our truths.
May we use our time on this planet to treasure everyone.

Tracy Simpson

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