Dear President Trump,
Today is letter number 450 to you. Doing the math this works out to over a million characters (assuming about 2500 characters per letter) and a little over 10 regular workweek’s worth of time (assuming about an hour per letter). When framed like this I’ve got to wonder whether this is a good use of my time and energy or whether I should be engaging in more direct forms of resistance or rebellion. Maybe. I’m not sure. For now, though, this is what I’m choosing to do since it’s helping me gather my thoughts, stay semi-sane, and speak up about charged issues in contexts where it would be much easier to sit back and stay quiet.
One small example of the latter has to do with planning for our upcoming psychiatry department research retreat. We were fishing around for a theme for the retreat and it seemed to me that people’s ideas could loosely be organized around diversity and this eventually morphed into a focus on inclusivity. We laid out some cool ways to highlight the theme, but right after our meeting a couple of weeks ago ended I realized that the intellectual centerpiece of the retreat was to revolve around two talks that would be the opposite of inclusivity; one on innovations in patient-centered care and the other on novel gene editing methodologies. Fortunately when I raised this concern at the next meeting people agreed it would be problem to spend the morning focused on inclusivity only to segue to a topic that would be pretty much focused on those who can afford to get care that is dialed in just for them. As someone else noted, it would have come across as tone deaf at best. We decided to go with the two planned speakers (assuming they can make the date) and to ask someone from the philosophy department who specializes in ethics to facilitate a conversation among the faculty about ethical and cultural issues germane to inclusivity stemming from the keynote talks. It’s not necessarily the direction I would have chosen on my own, but it is certainly better than having kept quiet.
I know there are scads of big hairy national issues in the news today that I’m not addressing so you are getting a bit of a pass. For now.
May we all be safe to speak up about group-think oversights.
May we be happy to negotiate mutually acceptable solutions.
May we stay centered and healthy as we raise issues that are tough to talk about.
May we keep the goal of inclusive, messy, and evolving peace front and center.