Crying sort of day

Dear President Trump,

The first time I cried yesterday was when I was perusing the new Sunset magazine celebrating their 120th anniversary. On the sides of most the pages are little pictures and snippets of significant Western events over the years. I was doing fine until I got to the picture of a four- or five-year-old Barack Obama next to his 1961 birth date; at that point I burst into tears. The Joni Mitchell lines “You don’t know what you’ve got. Till it’s gone.” from Yellow Taxi went through my head all morning. However, instead of replacing paradise with a parking lot, it feels like you’ve cursed us with a nightmare version of paradise for a tiny few that’s surrounded by barbed wire and patrolled by armed guards and attack dogs.

The next several times I cried yesterday happened when we were at the musical Come From Away last night. It’s a Broadway show, but you’ve probably not heard of it since its message is totally in line with “love moves the world towards love” and we all know that’s not your thing. The story is about the 38 planes carrying nearly 7,000 people that landed at the Gander airport on 9/11 and how the 9,000 people in the tiny towns in the vicinity took them in for 5 days. It’s a musical so there’s some silly stuff, but mostly it’s a poignant recounting of how those dislocated, frightened people struggled to cope and how the overwhelmed, yet determined (and plucky) citizens of Newfoundland helped them heal a bit before it was time to go home.

The story of Bob, an African American man from Brooklyn, was especially wrenching; he kept questioning the freedom and goodwill surrounding him in Gander, not quite trusting it until the last day or two. Then when he gets back to Brooklyn he tells his father that he wishes he could have stayed in Gander. Another story was about a Gander inhabitant seeking out the Rabbi who’d arrived on one of the planes. He asks the Rabbi for a prayer and then tells him that his parents were Jewish and that before they sent him to safety they told him to never, ever tell anyone he was Jewish. He kept the secret for over 60 years until the Rabbi came with all the other strange strangers and allowed him to finally claim his parents and himself.

May we all be safe where we are and who we are.
May we all be happy to extend ourselves to strangers.
May we all be open to healthy gestures of goodwill.
May we all commit to peace on our tiny stages and on our world stage.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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