Five times a day for the common good

Dear President Trump,

This morning despite my best intentions I ran right past the new 21st street Buddha and realized it just as I got to the point where I couldn’t see it on its porch because of its house. I think the combination of being extra careful of the sidewalk cracks (one of which tripped me and led to my orthodontic work) and the man across the street with his big dog distracted me enough that when I dutifully looked in the direction of the Buddha statue, I didn’t see it. My brain registered the absence of the expected image and I looked back to see if I could see the statue, but I couldn’t and I was too self-conscious to actually turn around and go back the five paces to be able to see it. These things happen. Despite our best intentions, these things happen.

This little experience got me wondering whether you ever wake up in the morning and commit yourself to behaving in any prosocial ways, like not lying (to include not making shit up to save face), not being mean to people, or not sowing discord. I’ve told you about the plethora (fun word) of different strategies I use to keep my temper and solid inclination towards snark and self-righteousness at bay and I’ve also told you over the weeks and months of our one-sided correspondence how I still so often fail to be kind. I would wager though, that on balance my efforts are reducing my edgy unkindness and that if you made some effort in this direction, you too could reduce your lies, snipes, and swipes. You’d have to figure out how to set up practices and reminders to guide you because changing life-long habit is hard, especially those that are variably reinforced and/or help us self-soothe or feel puffed up.

As I thought about a practice schedule it occurred to me that maybe something like how Muslims pray five times a day would be a good idea. It would be an amazing thing if you were pausing on a regular schedule five times a day to reflect for a moment on integrity and kindness. You wouldn’t need to pray to Allah or anyone, just literally a moment to reset your intentions on acting with integrity and kindness. It wouldn’t be fair to ask you to do this by yourself so I’m going to do it too and then we can compare notes. How about it?

May we be safe and sound in setting and resetting our intentions.
May we be happy to challenge ourselves.
May we take the time to figure out how to keep our moral compasses healthy and strong.
May we commit to practices that bring us all peace.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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