Dear President Trump,
If the lack of censure from Fox News and the rest of their ilk in the aftermath of Todd Brassner’s death is an indication, apparently you could shoot someone in broad daylight on 5th Avenue and get away with it. A Twitter person pointed out yesterday that if Hillary had failed to install sprinklers in a high-rise residential tower she owned and someone died in a fire, Fox et al. would have gone for her jugular in a heartbeat. I bet your silence on Mr. Brassner’s death is quite calculated; you wouldn’t want to say anything that might come back on you later in a criminal or civil suit. Better to keep mum and hope whoever you bought off originally to avoid installing the sprinklers can protect you again.
I do feel badly myself, though, that yesterday in my letter I neglected to properly acknowledge Mr. Brassner’s death. I don’t know whether his disabilities made it impossible for him to get out or he was asleep or was overwhelmed by the smoke too fast, but whatever happened it’s sad that he wasn’t able to save himself. There are probably all sorts of reasons I failed to sit with his death, but chief among them is that I have a lot of old, scared feelings about dying in a fire because of our house fire. Like I told you yesterday, my brother was napping when it happened and because he was on the couch with the babysitter she got him out safely. I have such a hard time thinking about what could have happened and when the worst does happen to other people and other families, it’s hard to go there.
However, whether by fire, mudslide, tornado, flood, bombing, domestic violence, overdose, or stray bullets, people die violently in their homes daily in ways that could be prevented if we had the collective will to truly take care of one another and the earth. Thus, self-protection is not a reasonable excuse for turning away from these tragedies. We may get lucky and never have anything like this happen to us or we might be able to escape with a few trinkets, but all of our souls still suffer and we don’t move closer to fixing the problems when we ignore others’ losses, especially their untimely deaths.
May we face and deal with what makes us unsafe.
May we be willing, even if not happy, to reckon with our myopic focus on ourselves and our kin.
May we commit over and over to making sure we all have healthy places to live.
May we make peace with this long, uphill struggle towards the beloved community.