Healthy doses of doubt

Dear President Trump,

Nothing in particular has gone wrong, but most of the day I’ve felt on the verge of tears. I’m guessing you don’t have these sorts of days, but who knows? Maybe when you are alone or just spending time with Melania you can let your guard down and let yourself feel unsure or shaky about something. I hope so. That would be good for you (and for us) even if it is uncomfortable and not a state you can tolerate for long. This reminds me of Barbara Kruger’s installation at the Hirshorn “Belief + Doubt = Sanity.” At least when you are in your public persona there isn’t much evidence of any doubt, but hopefully you have space to express uncertainty and doubt with people you trust. I wonder though, if your frequent reversals and seeming difficulty keeping a clear bead on what you have and haven’t said out loud is a sign that you aren’t allowing yourself the space to doubt and so you are jumping to conclusions prematurely only to find they were ill considered and need amending. I really think Kruger has identified an important dynamic in pointing out that belief and doubt need to counterbalance one another if you want to be sane. I know I talked a lot about this back when I got to see the installation so I won’t belabor it, but I do hope you can steer your way clear to introduce some healthy doses of doubt to temper all the strong beliefs you seem to have.

One of the things that has left me feeling sad and teary today is having heard from someone about how embattled she feels trying to navigate in the world as herself. She is feeling scared and unsure what to do with the racist, sexist, and rude conduct she is encountering and has largely been coping by holing up in her house. How are we going to repair this state of affairs? Unfortunately repair is probably not the right way to frame the issue since a repair implies something is broken and just needs to be fixed so that it’s back to its original intact self. In our case we don’t really have a healthy historical state of affairs to go back to so we need a new paradigm. I don’t know what that paradigm is going to be or how we are going to get there, but for it to be viable it needs to be based squarely on a justice that insists we are all precious, unique, irreplaceable beings.

May we be safe to be our full selves.
May we be happy count everyone in.
May we be invested in everyone’s health.
May we have the courage to live into justice.

Tracy Simpson

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