Dear Mr. Trump,
I stumbled upon your book the other day, your Art of the Deal, glistening glibly in the front window of a store, trying to make the monetary most of the upcoming inauguration. Is it our new Golden Calf, I wonder? As I skim through it, I wonder what you want me to take away from your words, bragging about how much money you have made, and how much status you have achieved, and the nature of your business dealings as an art form. As an artist, perhaps I find the last part to be the most disconcerting. For art is a transcendent, and as such serves its own ends, holding its fulfillment within itself. But if business becomes more than a fair means to a productive end, it becomes an idol.
You want publicity, they say, and to you there is no such thing as negative attention. Some worship you, and some revile you. Some paint you as the savior of the world, some as the father of lies. Your words often contradict, your intent is lost, and I find it hard to meet your gaze as you gaze upon my brothers and sisters, whether Muslim or Mexican, the disadvantaged or disabled, women and minorities, as statistical tools in your grand scheme to make America, my dear America, great again. Do you plan on making this happen at the expense of our goodness, harrowing up the inner evils of our national soul?
I’m flipping through your work of “art”, and I’m reading between your lines. I am finding it harder and harder to hate you, even as the emptiness of your words burns me. For the burning is that of such pain I cannot but be moved to compassion. Is this the stark emptiness that caused Christ to sweat blood in the garden? Do you not understand that this game is at your own cost? If you can only see the movement of money as art, but cannot see the art within the face of your neighbors, in the face of all those you have treated as pawns, oh, how lonely you must be!
Are you afraid, Mr. Trump? For sometimes I feel it in you, the fear of losing oneself, and constantly seeking to fill up the void with all the glitters, like sickened eyes glitter when a fever ravages the mind. You must keep saying it to yourself, to all of us, you must rub it in our faces. Because it hurts. I know it does, deep down, and in the crisp whiteness between the dark ink, thou art only a man. How many of us have stopped to think of you as such? No, no, we have instead played your game, played it up to the hilt, and we are now all bloodied from it.
I want to tell you something. I want you to understand that you are not alone. Are we not all fallen in the darkness, and are we not all too often blinded by our own need for satiation, or own tendency to dehumanize the other, our own drive to climb and clutch and clamber for more? Did it not start in that first garden so many generations ago? Have any of us truly forgotten how sweet that strange fruit tasted when the snake was whispering in our ears, and we stopped seeing the beauty in the face of the sun?
I am bound up with you, as you are a soul in great need, as am I. You are afraid, and I am afraid, for life as we know it often walks the knife’s edge of faith and doubt, hope and despair, and each one of us needs the other. If only you could see that reality in all its clarity, then all the world of art would burst forth in shafts and colors and contours of contrast, and you would understand that each of us holds a greatness that is brought to fruition in unity.
I want to help you if I can, Mr. Trump. If I could, I would try to touch your eyes with mine, and see if I could not find search you out, through the shadows that fall with the veil of fame. Is it not sometimes like the black mantle over the mirrors, marking out the passage of the dead? But as it is, all I can do is send you a bitter medicine I hope may bring back feeling to all that is numb. We have a tradition in my Catholic faith which is often hard to swallow. It is called “The Litany of Humility”.
It calls for us to abandon ourselves, and in so doing, rediscover ourselves. It calls us to lay down those yearnings that bite so keenly, and to take up the mantle of self-sacrifice.
For it is it not said that the first shall be last, and the last first? Is it not in the shedding of self that we can learn to truly serve?
I offer you all I can, Mr. Trump, and I offer it from my heart’s blood, from my flowing ink and pounding music and all that pours from the art of God’s tears for the broken that need binding up. Take my prayers, take my blessings, and take these words. They are the best inauguration gift I can extend:
From the love of my own comfort,
From the fear of having nothing,
From a life of worldly passions,
Deliver me, O God!
From a need to be understood,
From a need to be accepted,
From the fear of being lonely,
Deliver me, O God!
From the fear of serving others,
From the fear of death or trial,
From the fear of humility,
Deliver me, O God!