Locked away in a manger

Dear President Trump,

We all got up way too early this morning. The dogs get to lounge around all day so they’ll be fine, but it’s probably going to be rough for Laura and me. I did take a walk first thing and that may help; mobilizing for an early morning walk usually lets me hold onto some sense of control. It’s mostly illusory, I know, but it still feels important not to be completely reactionary and just give in to the whims of the moment, whether it be turning over for more sleep or lashing out at someone who cuts me off in traffic. It’s a drag, this adult-ing, this stepping up and taking responsibility for oneself. It’s tedious and a lot of work keeping up the inner dialogue to shore up the prosocial, adaptive behaviors in favor of the immediately reinforcing ones that are liable to get me in trouble.

I’m bothering to tell you all this because I don’t see any evidence that you’ve learned these life lessons yet and because you are so hell bent on encouraging your base to be just as reactively ugly and vicious as you are. Witness how you harangued a security guard at your rally last night for behaving professionally when escorting a protestor out of the arena (HP article by Ed Mazza). You routinely incite violence, talking all “He-Man” as though respectful, courteous action (including speech) is your kryptonite.

This morning I passed an almost life-sized manger scene, with White Joseph and Mary kneeling beside White Baby Jesus. I’m pretty sure it’s on the lawn that usually has the sole TRUMP sign in Northeast Seattle. Maybe they took the sign down because they too saw the images of the other manger scene where Middle Eastern Mary and Joseph are standing about 15 feet away on either side of Middle Eastern Baby Jesus, all of them in their own separate chain-link cages. If so, they probably realized it would be shitty form to keep their TRUMP sign up by their birth of Christ scene. However, I doubt their Facebook or Twitter feeds would have shown them the caged Holy Family, so maybe they realized that having a sign promoting one of history’s most divisive, hateful leaders alongside something symbolizing the central Western historical figure who was all about loving one’s neighbor as oneself (etc.) might put their house at risk for lightening strikes. More likely, they just thought your sign and the manger scene were aesthetically incompatible and the latter won out for the month of December.

Laura sent me the Twitter notification about the caged Holy Family on Sunday at the exact same time I was talking with a friend at church who was telling me what a hard time she’s having with the conflict over wanting and needing to bear witness to the endless atrocities you are enacting and wanting and needing to attend to the business of her day. She was specifically referencing the heartbreaking stories of parents choosing to send their children unaccompanied over the bridge from Mexico into the US. Really, she was talking about this exact thing when the image of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – all in their separate cages – came through.

I didn’t stay for the church service but I listened to the recording of the sermon later and one of the things the guest preacher talked about is the temptation of hanging out our own individual “Do NOT Disturb” signs, of keeping ourselves insulated from the morally reprehensible stuff that humans are doing to one another and to the planet. I don’t remember what she said we can do to shore ourselves up so we can hang in with reality, but I think one thing is to talk with supportive people and another is to find ways to push back against cruelty and indifference. I also think it helps to keep alive the idea that these are the final desperate death throes of a dying way of being.

May we be emotionally and physically safe to bear witness.
May we be willing to be engaged in stopping human rights violations.
May we see that true justice lifts us all up.
May we have the courage to center our own and our collective peace.

Tracy Simpson

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