by Jackie Acho and Eva Basilion

Memo to: Donald Trump

Subject: Fred

Dear Donald,

We have to admit, we have not been fans. One of our dads is though, and he’s beloved. So, we’ve been searching for common ground for months and months. But you have done so many #NotSexy things since lights, camera, action! On your reality empire. Your presidential run. Your occupation of the White House. You’ve been using every power tool at your disposal – from loyalty to bullying to worse. Competition is king. Co-creation is a mythical creature in a far-off land. You can’t seem to get your empathy up. Your references to little “s” #sex make us wince. We don’t see a lot of difference between you and Harvey, at least from the outside in.

But people are complex.  Even people who spend all day and late into the evening doing #NotSexy things — and then tweeting about them — can come through once in a while. This morning, we see a glimmer of light.

While going off script at a press conference yesterday, you opened up about your brother who died from alcoholism at age 43.

 “I had a brother, Fred. Great guy, best-looking guy, best personality — much better than mine…But he had a problem. He had a problem with alcohol. And he would tell me: ‘Don’t drink. Don’t drink.’ ”

“He really helped me. I had somebody that guided me. And he had a very, very, very tough life because of alcohol. Believe me — very, very tough, tough life. He was a strong guy, but it was a tough, tough thing that he was going through. But I learned because of Fred.”

They say the light enters at the wound.  The wound can be emotional, like losing a beloved brother. You reached into that pain, and you shared it with us. It was a difficult thing to do. But you did. You told us how awful it was to lose Fred to addiction. And you showed us how you made meaning out of that pain. You were honest. You weren’t acting. You were with us. Do you know how much that means?

The answers to the opioid crisis will not be as simple as abstinence, although that helps. This crisis starts in a different way. It begins with the medical-pharmaceutical-FDA industrial complex. Once you figure that out, we think you may take a hammer to it. Oh, that would be #Sexy.

But you’ve made a good start.  Because the other part of this problem with drugs? It’s personal. It comes from loneliness, an epidemic these days in our divided world. By letting us know that we are not alone, you have started the healing. Now that’s yuuuge. That is manly. That is power; that is strength; that is leadership. That was a moment of empathy. That, Mr. President, was a #Sexy thing to do. Not #sexy with a little “s.” Not #sex either. But #Sexy. Stick with it. It looks good on you.


Jackie Acho and Eva Basilion

Picture credit: the President as a young man with his family, including Big Brother Fred.

An Antidote to Our Empathy Deficit Disorder


An Antidote to Our Empathy Deficit Disorder

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