Dear President Trump,
I need to address three (related) topics today so I am going to allow myself way more than my usual 2500 characters for this letter, which of course doesn’t matter to you because you never read them.
First, there is the issue of whether punishments fit crimes or don’t fit crimes. Regardless of all the confusing blather about your true motivation for separating families at the border, the rationale that you and Jeff S. gave that seemed to get the most airtime and that seems to have most resonated with your base (see #3 topic below) is that undocumented people crossing the border, whether seeking asylum or not, were breaking the law and had to be incarcerated without their children because children cannot be housed in prisons. In other words – you break our law and this is the (now) natural consequence. But how is it that someone with no criminal history who is likely fleeing life threatening domestic or gang violence or life threatening poverty and comes into the US without papers deserves to be locked up for months or years on end in the first place, let alone have their children taken from them? And what crime did the children commit that they should be “punished” with traumatic separation from their caregivers? Of course I’m seeing this through my own particular lens, but this makes no logical sense whatsoever and even more starkly shows your utter depravity.
Second, when Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, all the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men could not put Humpty back together again. And even if they tried it would take eons longer than the fall that caused the catastrophe in the first place and Humpty would never, ever be his old self again. There is also the reality in a lot of stores that if you break it, you own it, though I bet you’ve always assumed that rule doesn’t apply to you. So here we are now in the aftermath of the family separation non-policy/policy faced with trying to clean up the King’s mess when the King has moved on dismissively and all his Horses and Men are not sure what is and isn’t ok with the King to do. And these basic, what the f*** do we do now, issues barely scratch the surface of addressing all the lives that were stomped on and broken by the policy – what of those consequences? Are we going to even officially acknowledge them? Try to address them? Or, just sweep them under the rug? HD is obviously a fictional, allegorical figure and what the King did or didn’t do to help him is of little real consequence, but what we do or don’t do to right the wrongs we inflicted on those families is profoundly consequential to them and to us.
The third thing I need to raise up here unfortunately foreshadows that there will likely be no political will to meaningfully repair the damage we did. The Huffington Post conducted a survey on Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week that was representative of people who voted for you, for Clinton, or for either a third party candidate or didn’t vote in 2016. They found that among those who voted for you, the vast majority (83%) said that the undocumented parents who crossed into the US with their children were to blame for having their children taken from them and only 8% blamed your administration. Among those who voted for Clinton 81% blamed your administration and (to me, a shockingly high) 19% blamed the undocumented parents. The third group of voters/non-voters is all over the place with no discernable pattern emerging. What this drives home is that you really have been extremely effective in dividing us and in convincing your base that undocumented people are a scourge that must be annihilated even if it involves dragging children from their mothers’ and fathers’ arms.
Hope is a discipline. Hope is a discipline.
Yes, and yet, I’m finding I want to bypass the discipline part and have some new King or Queen to swoop in on a better Horse with better Men and Women who will take our fractured, stomped upon country and put the pieces back together again, not the same as they were, but somehow whole. This is what my overwhelmed, childish self wants even as I recognize that this is not a task that any one person can (or should) take on and that somehow We are going to have to find the will, courage, and humility to work with each other if we aren’t going to just lurch from one form of brokenness to another.
There is a Japanese ceramics technique that uses liquid gold to repair broken pottery; it’s called kintsugi. The gold not only joins the shards together, but fills in where the original material was pulverized. The whole is ultimately much greater than the sum of the parts.
Hope is a discipline. And so is kintsugi. And so is democracy.
May we be safe to pick up the pieces.
May we be happy to work at making sense of the pieces.
May we stay healthy as we sort out together how to put the pieces together.
May we commit to making peace with one another through this process.