You haven’t earned the benefit of my doubt

Dear President Trump,

How did it feel to read aloud the prepared statement condemning white supremacists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis with the cameras rolling? I so wish for your sake and for all of us that it was a relief to you to get to say those morally correct things even if you were worried the whole time about your numbers slipping. I doubt this was really the case; it seems more like you finally had to step up and lie or risk even greater damage to your brand. Actually, that’s an interesting thought — did you finally decide to lie and condemn your fellow white supremacists because to not do so was to risk the economic health of your businesses? If CEOs were pulling off your presidential panels, it was only a matter of time before some started pulling out of business deals with your family, compromising your ability to make the absolute most of the presidency. I realize that is a terribly cynical thought and is not giving you the benefit of the doubt at all, but I’m afraid you haven’t earned the benefit of my doubt thus far.

I was originally thinking along other lines when I started today’s letter to you. You’ve heard the phrase “fake it til you make it”, right? Lots of people use it to get themselves somewhere they want to be; like faking confidence until you’ve practiced whatever it is enough that you really do feel confident. It can be super helpful, especially when anxiety is a factor. I realize anxiety of this sort wasn’t likely a factor in you ducking condemning white supremacists’ over the weekend, but I wonder whether it might be possible for you to fake being on the right side of the moral divide enough that you could some day actually find yourself there. The issue of intention is important though; for the fake-til-make idea to work, people almost always have to want whatever the outcome is. It doesn’t work if, for example, you say you want to be kinder and you act kinder but you are actually crossing your fingers behind your back (literally or figuratively) or muttering things like “not” under your breath.

Even if you don’t really want to move in this direction, there’s still hope since sometimes people can begrudgingly change for the better if they are reinforced for being better. We’ll see.

May you be safe to grow.
May you be happy to come out of this a better person.
May you be healthy enough to get out of familiar ruts.
May your life unfold and intersect with care and compassion.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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