Tipping the universe

Dear President Trump,

From the get go I’ve known, along with the rest of the country, that Christine Blasey Ford is a research psychologist who studies trauma and resilience. However, it was only this morning that I realized I’ve read and used and cited numerous publications she contributed to in my own work. I can’t look up specifics because I don’t have Internet access as I write this (I’m sitting in parking lot #17 at UCSB waiting for Laura and our daughter to summon me for a farewell lunch). Even without being able to remind myself of the exact citations and how I used them, what I can tell you is that she has worked steadily for years with some of the world’s best trauma researchers, which, based on how academia works, means she is one of the world’s best trauma researchers. If I recall correctly, she isn’t the lead or senior author on any of the papers but her position in the author strings means she was a steady, strong contributor who was instrumental to making the work happen and enabled it to see the light of day.

I really don’t know what specific point to make with all this. Her story resonated just as much with me before I realized I’d been seeing her name for years as after I put these pieces together. I guess, though, that now being able to visualize her name in a certain font in a certain very different context than this role she and we currently find her in, is a strong reminder of the dimensionality of all our lives, which is especially important to hang onto when we are apt to see someone as just this or just that. Maybe a second thing to pull forward is to note what important contributions people can make when they find ways to use their personal hardships in the service of the greater good as Dr. Ford has done throughout her career. I imagine it has been restorative and perhaps healing for her to do the work she does and in the process help to tip the universe a bit further towards reckoning with the scourge of sexual violence.

Obviously people are doing this every day in all sorts of ways outside of academia or formal advocacy. When someone is able to help a child feel safe enough to tell about something that made them feel icky, that’s tipping the universe in the right direction. When someone wades in and insists to their fellow fraternity members that they shouldn’t make misogynist jokes and is willing to be the guy who guards the bathroom at parties and makes sure young women leave with their friends, that’s tipping the universe in the right direction. In other words, we all have to do our part in whatever roles we happen to be in, including by calling out the subtle slights, the insidious crap that convinces girls and boys and women and men that girls and women are less than (and therefore fair game), because really, we need more than a universe tipping, we need the whole damn thing turned on its head.

May we all be safe no matter where we are and who we are with.
May we all be invested in everyone’s happiness.
May we all dig deep and figure out how to be truly healthy together.
May we all make peace with the limits of our entitlement and power.

Tracy Simpson

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