What if it were really true that no one would ever be left behind?

Dear President Trump,

I figured the chances of the Sport Clips people seeing yesterday’s letter to you on my blog were nil so I wrote to them directly. I’m snail-mailing the letter to the Shoreline franchise owner and cc’ing the corporate office in Texas because they don’t have a way to contact them online if it’s not about scheduling a haircut. It’s not as instant gratification as getting the message directly into an email or contact page inbox, but I appreciate the formality of it and it’s probably more likely to be opened and read if it’s a physical thing. We’ll see. I thought about clandestinely covering over the offending sign, but that’s fraught for all sorts of reasons so I’ll just keep an eye on that part of the store’s window for the next while. We have lots of stamps and I can always write them more letters if need be.

Moving on to other hyper-local news that ties in with much bigger conversations and concerns, our Sunday afternoon walk yesterday was punctuated with a mix of things ranging from lovely fall foliage, to a nice chat with someone about dogs, to a likely one-of a kind statue of a soldier carrying another soldier over his right shoulder. Not surprisingly, it’s the statue I want to tell you about. It’s tucked up next to a house that’s set about five feet up from the street in a yard that’s surrounded by bushes so it was hard to see – I just happened to catch it out of the corner of my eye. After confirming that it really was what I thought it was, I asked Laura to come back a few paces and look at it too – I needed her to see it both so she would know what I was talking about and because it feels to me like a thing that needs to be seen.

The statue itself is about three feet tall and depicts a squat soldier wearing a protective helmet pulled down low on his forehead. I’m not sure whether he has a gun, but I think not since my memory of the whole piece is that of a stolid rectangle made up of the simple bulk of the carrying soldier and the carried soldier. I may have been too far away to see the carrying soldier’s face clearly, but it looked to me to be pretty indistinct, even sort of crumpled. The whole thing reads of sadness, resignation, burden, and responsibility. There’s no way to know whether the artist thought of the living and injured (or dead) soldiers depicted as being best of friends or worst of enemies, but what’s clear is the sense of sadness and that no one will be left behind.

Even before seeing the statue I was having intrusive images from the one picture I’ve seen of Kurdish people lying dead in the streets of Syria, blood pooling around their bodies, and since seeing the statue the intrusions have only intensified. It’s not that I don’t think their people will find ways to retrieve their bodies – surely they will – it’s that we left them to be decimated, we abandoned them and our common cause. As inconceivable as it is, I know you are technically the single, solitary person who made the decision to withdraw our troops to allow Erdogan to invade that part of Syria unchallenged, but I feel we all bear responsibility for this tragedy. We collectively enabled you to attain office, and for 1000+ days we have allowed you to remain in office and you are not out yet.

We are in very deep trouble here in our country. We have been for centuries and it is finally becoming apparent just how messed up we are. I wish we could somehow hermetically seal ourselves off from the rest of the world. I wish this not because I want to limit asylum seekers who are fleeing even worse conditions (that we directly contributed to), but because when we act out, our country’s convulsions are so negatively impactful to the rest of the world that I want to protect them from us.

May we get our heads and hearts on straight and behave responsibly and safely in the world.
May we reorder our priorities so that the happiness and wellbeing of the entire world is centered.
May we see that it takes far more strength to cooperate on behalf of the common good than to throw our military weight around (or to withdraw it precipitously).
May we reorient towards peace.

Tracy Simpson

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