“WHEN the Americans and Soviets stopped rattling nuclear sabers and stoking proxy wars, I don’t think love had much to do with it, or empathy either. And though I like to think I have as much empathy as the next person, I can’t say that it’s empathy that prevents me from taking out contracts on my critics, getting into fistfights over parking spaces, threatening my wife when she points out I’ve done something silly, or lobbying for my country to go to war with China to prevent it from overtaking us in economic output. My mind doesn’t stop and ponder what it would be like to be victims of these kinds of violence and then recoil after feeling their pain. My mind never goes in these directions in the first place: they are absurd, ludicrous and unthinkable. Yet options like these were clearly not unthinkable to past generations. The decline of violence may owe something to an expansion of empathy, but it also owes much to harder-boiled facilities like The parts of the brain that restrain our darker impulses were also standard equipment in our ancestors who kept slaves, burned witches, and beat children, so they clearly don’t make people good by default. The exploration of our better angels must show not only how they steer us away from violence, but why they so often fail to do so: not just how they been increasingly engaged, but why history had to wait so long to engage them fully.” – Steven Pinker, “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” 2011.
I have been wanting to write this letter to you, Mr. President, as an imaginary Filipina-American granddaughter of yours.
Allow me, Lolo Donald, as I see how much you love my mother, Ivanka and how you listen to her when she speaks.
But, my classmates said that you are not a very good president. That makes me very very sad. Why are they saying that Lolo Donald?
They said you are a bigot? Does that sound like malikot (restless) or more like a spigot — you know the one you showed me in Air Force One that was like a faucet in the bathroom and water came out?
My teacher said it is hating someone different from you. But that makes me so sad. Lolo Donald, in my school, when someone does not like me, it hurts me inside. I don’t want to eat. I can’t even sleep. Sometimes my tummy hurts.
So my teacher said we must all like each other and we must all learn how to get along. The other day, someone wants the swing and I like to use it also, so we just played together. I pushed her and then, she pushed me in the swing. We played so much, we forgot recess was done and we had to go inside. But the teacher was nice, she just looked outside our classroom door and called us to come inside.
Why are my classmates saying that you like only those who look like white bread and not those whose skin is like chocolate milk? Grandpa, did you not give me cookies the other day with chocolate milk? So why don’t you like those who look like chocolate milk? Are they not also God’s children, like I am?
Did you not say in your speech that we are all made by the same God? Can you not make us all get along?
Lolo, some of my classmates are very very sad. They saw on television a family who lost their father because he was arrested for not having his papers. What papers are those, Lolo? Like the papers where my teacher writes our homework? Why did the police just send them home to get their papers? Why did they separate the children from their dad?
Remember how you were signing a lot of papers, why don’t you give that father some of the papers you signed so he can show the papers you signed to the police so he can go home? He is so sad and his daughter is also sad. I saw them cry on television.
Lolo Donald, I would be so sad if my dad never came home. Don’t do that to them, Lolo Donald. You are their grandfather too, as you are now the 45th U.S. president — I learned that in school today, after Pres. Barack Obama, comes my grandfather, my Lolo Donald Trump.
You know I get so sad when my dad gets busy in your house, Lolo. Let him come home, naman, but also, let that family’s father come home. It makes them very very sad when you separate their fathers from their daughters.
Remember how you feel when my mom visits you, or when I sit in your lap, and you tell me stories of what to do when I grow up? Remember how happy we are?
Lolo, can you make it better for these fathers and mothers who you said looked like chocolate milk? I like chocolate milk with my cookies. And my classmates with chocolate milk in their lunch box and who look like chocolate milk are always sharing their snacks with me. They are really nice and good people, Lolo Donald.
Why are people marching in the streets with signs that say, “Dump Trump?” I don’t understand that sign. Do they want to dump you in the trash can? Do they want to dump all of us, including my mommy, Ivanka as she also has the name Trump but not my daddy? What did you do to make them that angry? Why do I keep seeing it in the newspapers, the television and my classmates talk about how dangerous America has been since you became the 45th president?
But, don’t you love our country, America? I love my country so much, so much, like as wide as the ocean as I saw the other day, because America is great, right Lolo Donald? But, why are you not being the grandfather of all Americans? I learned that there over 320 million Americans in my class the other day. That is a lot of people to love, Lolo Trump. Can you not make us all get along? Why do my classmates say you are the meanest president of America? Why are they saying you are tweeting angry words, what is a tweet? Don’t birds tweet? But you are not a bird, so why are they saying you are tweeting?
The other night, my nanny let me watch television, and I saw mommy up high in the same big room as you were in, Lolo, but you were like President Barack Obama, reading a letter to the American people. But when Pres. Obama read, I did not see a lot of women dressed in white. When you did the letter reading, I saw many women wearing white. Did someone die? But, you are still alive, Lolo Donald, why did they wear white?
Lolo, my teacher said that when you became the president, you became the leader of all of us, all 320 million Americans. Lolo, my teacher even said that the president also is not just the leader, but also shows us the best in us, Americans!
Lolo, someone read this college book and talked about prudence, reason, fairness, self-control, norms and taboos, and conceptions of human rights. I do not understand these big words Lolo. Will you teach me how that makes Americans better angels?
Footnote: “Suffragettes were members of women’s organizations in the late-19th and early-20th centuries which advocated the extension of the ‘franchise,’ or the right to vote in public elections, to women. It particularly refers to militants in the United Kingdom such as members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). They wore white.”
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Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 9 years now. She contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Mexico and 22 national parks in the US, in pursuit of her love for arts.