Could this nightmare actually be a gift to the future?

Dear President Trump,

Because it’s likely that Seattle isn’t the only city doing this for kids, you and I may be the only people in the US who didn’t know about the call to put Teddy bears in your front windows so that kids walking by can count them up and have something to do when they are out with their darn parents instead of their best friends. On our walk in a nearby neighborhood yesterday evening I kept seeing Teddy bears in windows and when I mentioned it to Laura, she told me that it’s a thing now, sort of a scavenger hunt to give kids something to focus on. After reading the 4/3/20 letter to you, a friend independently commented on my blog about this, so really, I think there aren’t many of us who didn’t know about this but I’m 99.9% sure you were in the dark too, because why wouldn’t you be?

There’s also been news of other lovely, sweet things to lift up today and I’ll tell you about them in the order I heard them. First, I heard that our Governor, Jay Inslee, is sending 400 ventilators to New York and other harder hit states, which provoked some involuntary tears. Next, Laura saw a Tweet about a Boise area critical care nurse who is driving out to NYC to answer Governor Cuomo’s call for help from health care providers. Tears were plentiful. And then finally, Laura read me another Tweet by a critical care nurse in NYC who was getting word out that she’s happy to be a presence for people’s loved ones who are in her hospital since visitors aren’t allowed. She was careful to say she won’t interface with other medical professionals and that she can’t tell the person on the outside their loved one’s condition, but she will hold their loved one’s hand, say a prayer with them, and pass messages along should anyone at all wish her to do so.

I know there are angels among us and they do wonderfully kind things for others all the time, covid crisis or no, but rarely do so, so many go out of their way and put themselves in harm’s way like we are seeing now. I listened to another dharma talk this afternoon by a different Plum Village monk, Brother Phap Dung, and one of the points he made is that the world is calling forth all the bodhisattvas, who are sort of the Buddhist equivalent of embodied angels, to model calm and compassion.

It was a long lesson and he shared lots of wisdom pearls, but one of the things that especially got my attention was the idea of refraining from blaming others for this crisis. He was talking about not blaming ethnic groups, but I decided to challenge myself around the anger and resentment I feel towards you to see if I could do anything with it other than add more dry kindling. Well, I can’t say my anger towards you is gone or even all that much reduced, but what I can say is that the inquiry led me to wonder if we didn’t need someone like you to make this situation enough worse that it would finally, finally force us to face the implications of our profligate, wanton ways.

If we’d had someone proactive, competent, intelligent, humble, and compassionate at the helm back in January when word first came to us from China that something very scary was heading out into the rest of the world, things still would have been bad, for sure, but we may not have had to face the stark truth in quite the way we have to now. So maybe, please oh please, maybe you have given us a gift of sorts that will force us to learn what we need to learn, that will force a reckoning and repairs before the planet washes her hands of us.

May we be safe from our unsustainable ways.
May we be willing to face the truth and make the changes we must make.
May we have the strength to be bodhisattva angels to one another.
May we make peace with the idea that less stuff equals more life.

Tracy Simpson

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