About The Biden Letters
Briefly, in the interest of providing context for The Biden Letters, I undertook the daily practice of writing to President Trump out of self-preservation; I knew that in the face of his brand of toxicity I was likely to devolve into a perpetually angry, bitter being if I didn’t take fairly drastic measures. For me, those measures included identifying him as my most “difficult person” in my daily loving-kindness practice and writing to him every day about my sense of his impact on the US, the world, and my small, private corner of the universe (and posting the letters on the White House contact page). I closed each letter with a loving-kindness meditation.
When it was clear this past November (2020) that Trump’s time in office was truly, thankfully winding down and we would no longer be subject to his omnipresent menace, it was a profound relief even if the days between his defeat and President Biden’s inauguration were fraught and frightening. DJT was going to be sent packing one way or another and an infinitely more sincere and honorable individual would be replacing him. Moreover, President Biden would be bringing with him the first woman Vice President, Kamala Harris, as well as a diverse group of sincere and honorable public servants. Together they would be sweeping in with their sleeves rolled up to enact agendas to undo the damage Trump and his enablers wrought, meet the staggering challenges of the current day, and safeguard our democracy and our planet. Totally heady and heart-warming stuff after the past four years.
So I was at a crossroads. I was on the cusp of having fulfilled my commitment to myself to keep up that fairly nutty daily writing practice. I’d amassed a couple hundred followers on my blog and heard from people frequently that what I had to say was helpful to them. It was all quite gratifying. It was also a lot to juggle along with the rest of my life. Friends began asking what I was going to do with all my newly found free time and I started imagining myself slipping back into the pre-Trump complacency and relative political oblivion that I’d occupied for much of my life.
If I’m honest, that version of life is appealing.
But it’s not what I really want – so here we are. President Trump taught me many, many things including that we can’t take democracy for granted and we can’t assume that others are going to step up and take care of things for the rest of us. It’s on us; even those of us with little tiny footprints and voices.
My plan for The Biden Letters is to be a consistent feminist, humanist, antiracist voice from the Far Left Corner of the United States. I didn’t vote for President Biden in the primaries – we still have our Elizabeth Warren sign – but we desperately need him to succeed and over 81 million of us ultimately tagged him “it.” So while he won’t be hearing from me every single day like his predecessor did, I will reach out to him more days than not. And I’ll keep him in my daily loving-kindness prayers even if the only result is that I’m regularly reminding myself that we didn’t succumb to tyranny, that we have tons of work ahead of us, and that there is hope.
About the Banner Art
The image on the blog’s banner is from a painting entitled Only in America. The red dots reflect the (approximately) 250 mentally ill individuals who were killed by police in 2016 (see the Washington Post data base on police shootings) while the lighter and darker blue stripes are intended to be vaguely flag-like.
The piece was made using a manual off-set printing technique commonly known as potato printing. The shapes in the stripes come from a two-step transfer process wherein a smooth cut (russet) potato surface gets a thin coat of acrylic paint, is pressed onto something with texture (e.g., crumpled paper, an old dandelion, a puzzle piece, etc.), and then pressed onto cotton rag paper where the image is affixed. For this piece, I used only objects that I found discarded in the street to echo the disgraceful way that our society treats, and fails to treat, our siblings who struggle with mental illness.
These police killings obviously predated President Biden’s time in office and critically, they also predated Trump’s time in office. President Trump made things immeasurably worse for the most vulnerable among us, but our collective callousness and the systemic racism that undergirds it has been with us for centuries. In choosing Only in America as the primary visual context for the blog, I am aiming to keep this reality in focus to guard against complacency as we head into this next chapter together.
May we all be safe as we venture forth.
May we be happy and content as we pursue liberty and justice for all.
May we know we are stronger together and that each one’s health is precious.
May we understand that how we get there is at least as important as the destination.