The imperative of progress

Dear President Trump,

I’ve told you before that I’m a magpie collecting pithy bits of other peoples’ wisdom. Sometimes I use them the same day and other times they get squirreled away for later use. Over the last month I’ve rounded up some great quotes and today I’m seeing that two of them fit nicely together.

The first is from an E. J. Dione (WP) editorial in which he quotes Stacey Abrams as saying: “We have to always be vigilant about the retrenchment, but we’ve got to be even more aggressive about the progress, because the further ahead we get, the harder it is to drag us back.

And the second is from A-Poem-A-Day contributor, Richard Wehrenberg, who, in describing their own poem, quotes two lines from a Maggie Anderson poem: “How casually and certainly / we say things about the only world we know.

 I’ve given them to you in the chronological order in which I found them, but I think the Anderson quote needs to be unpacked first and that it informs the Abrams quote. I think Anderson is essentially saying that we are forever wedded to or limited by our own perspectives and that most of us, most of the time forget this crucial fact, if we ever realize it at all. Anderson doesn’t seem to be passing any particular judgment or singling any particular group out as being especially obtuse or self-absorbed; she seems to just be saying that this is how things are. But when we stop to consider who does and does not have the luxury of waltzing through life casually certain about what they have to say about the world, the wisdom of Stacey Abrams’ statement is apparent.

You and your cronies will probably be forever casually certain that your take on the world is THE take on the world, that even if there are multiple takes, yours is the only one that matters. So, per Abrams’ observation, thank goodness we were able to move the goal posts substantially forward in the decade before you took office. We legalized gay marriage and LGBT people now serve openly in the military. There are more women and minorities in positions of power (not nearly enough, but at least more), and both older people who’ve been able to come out of the shadows and younger people who never had to live in them are saying ‘hell no, we aren’t going to let you drag us back to the dark ages.’ And we are voting.

May we all be safe in the world.
May we be happy to live fully, unapologetically from our own points of view.
May we cultivate healthy respect for others’ points of view.
May we make peace with the need to keep pushing for progress.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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