Dear President Trump,
How is your spirit? This is what our pastor asks us most every Sunday and I’ve been wondering how you are doing the day before your big State of the Union address. Yesterday the first person to respond to the invitation to share told us about a homeless man she knows well from his visits to the church where she works. One evening she found him sleeping in a doorway of the church and she reminded him he couldn’t stay there. He told her he was really sick; he was burning up with fever so she got his permission to call an ambulance. When it was time for him to get in to go, he told her he was too scared, that he couldn’t be nice to people. She told us how she was able to convince him that because he had always been nice to her, he can be nice to people, that he could pretend they are her.
Risking a gross overgeneralization, it seems to me that we humans want things simple and easy to slot. “I’m not a nice person.” “Those people are lazy.” “I never catch a break.” “They are all rapists.” “What hard workers they all are.” And so forth. You’ve exploited this tendency with your deliberate denigrating branding of political enemies and entire groups of people. I know you didn’t come up with this strategy on your own, but you have certainly taken it to new lows.
I realize you have absolutely no incentive to attempt to correct this course since it’s paying off in spades for you, much of the GOP, and all your donors, but if you did want to be a leader who strives to bring out the best in those he is leading you might try telling some different kinds of stories. I know a lot of people think we should all just be big hearted enough to love everyone on principle, but it really seems that hearts and minds are best opened by encounters with individual people and their stories. And since we need leaders who actively try to help us keep those doors to one another open rather than triple bolting them and stringing up razor wire, I hope you will surprise me tomorrow by dropping the divisive rhetoric and taking care of the Union in your address to us all. It’s not that I’ll trust you really mean it, there’s too much debris filled water under the bridge to jump right in with you, but it would be a start.
May you be safe to drop the fear mongering.
May you be happy to test different waters.
May you work on healing the divides.
May your spirit be at peace (even after the Winter Olympics are over).