Day 600 and in-spite-of-you-positives

Dear President Trump,

Last night Laura remarked that I must be getting close to the 600 day mark in our one-sided correspondence so I checked and we were at 599, which means today is indeed the 600th consecutive day of writing to you. It seems like this should feel like an accomplishment of sorts, but mostly I just feel sad, worried, and frustrated. The letters do continue to be a way for me to discharge some of these feelings and to maybe start a few constructive ripples, so I’ll persist.

There are plenty of things that feel worse and are worse for our country 600 days into this correspondence than on day 1 or even day 500, but today I’m going to resurrect my intermittent practice of calling out recent in-spite-of-you-positives: 1) Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege were given the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on addressing the scourge of sexual war crimes; 2) Kristina Olson from the UW Psychology Department was selected for a MacArthur Genius Award for her groundbreaking work on children’s gender identity formation; 3) this one is tricky but I still think counts as positive because we need to see and understand this – Noah Trevor’s awesome statement articulating the mileage you get from convincing your supporters they are victims, and 4) much like Dan Savage’s “It gets better” campaign for LGBTQ youth, the recent examples of courage and conviction displayed by so many women who have come forward about their long buried experiences of sexual assault are laying the groundwork for other girls and women to know they aren’t alone and can find support should they choose to disclose their assault experiences.

Obviously every one of these positives has a dark, menacing shadow side, but I maintain that it’s impossible to fix or change something if we don’t have words for it or it’s too taboo to name. Now we have words and now we are saying to hell with playing the game of pretending things are ok, that assault is just an inevitable that we have to accept and move on from. Time’s up on all that even though it’s miserably uncomfortable confronting it all and forcing conversations no one really wants to have. We have to do this work and these people are shining beacons helping us see what we collectively have to see.

May we be safe to see and name reality.
May we be willing to sit with it and get to know it.
May we develop healthier ways of coping with reality than the defaults of repression and avoidance.
May we make peace with the discomfort of approaching reality.

Tracy Simpson

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