By Marguerite Jill Dye
On the occasion of your 145th day in office, President Trump, and my 45th column in the Mountain Times, I humbly offer Trump and his party leadership this letter which was inspired by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Letter to the Soviet Leaders” nearly 45 years ago on Sept. 5, 1973.
When Solzhenitsyn was miraculously healed from advanced stage cancer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn pledged to help right the wrongs of the homeland he loved by documenting and exposing his government’s crimes and human rights abuses. No writer could hope for a more compelling mission, but it required tremendous strength, faith, and dedication. Although he gained recognition worldwide and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (in absentia in 1970), he was persecuted for his writing for most of his life by the government of his beloved Russia. After suffering years of punishment, imprisonment, and poisoning at the hands of his own country’s leaders, he was cast into exile, stateless, in Europe, then found refuge in the Green Mountain State. For 18 years he wrote, undisturbed, in his remote, protected compound in Cavendish. But before Solzhenitsyn left Russia, he composed his letter to the Kremlin leaders, advising that “the wise heed advice long before the need becomes overwhelming.”
Solzhenitsyn hoped his leaders cared for their people’s salvation and good. The great writer’s letter, and my letter, too, “come from a fellow countryman of a rare kind—one who does not stand on a ladder subordinate to your command, who can be neither dismissed from his post, nor demoted, nor promoted, nor rewarded by you, and from whom therefore you are almost certain to hear an opinion sincerely voiced, without any careerist calculations, such as you are unlikely to hear from even the finest experts in your bureaucracy,” he wrote.
With Trump’s own close ties and great interest in Russia, I fashioned my letter after the great writer’s brilliant and heartfelt plea for the cause of his people, adding my own urgent concerns as an American citizen. I have written this letter from my heart, hoping Trump and his team value our history and homeland as I do.
Dear American leaders,
The fate of our people, our nation, peace, and the earth are what concern me the most. President Trump, as you may recall, you were elected by a minority in a fouled election to serve and protect all Americans through your leadership under our Constitution. If you serve the minority point of view, may I ask if and when you intend to represent the majority, too? In the guise of “making America great again,” are you not making America great for the richest few? I am concerned by the shortsighted gain of the greatest corporations and the wealthiest few. And may I point out that, in spite of your branding, a billionaire in a baseball cap doth not an American worker make? While your healthcare plan will provide tax cuts to the wealthy, it will cause great suffering and loss of life for millions of Americans. Could Trumpcare be the Gulag (penal system) of America?
Corruption, lies, deceit, and subversion for personal power and financial gain are undermining American democracy and destabilizing our sovereignty. We are quickly losing respect and our standing in the world. Through centuries of hard work, applying ideals that we believe in, America has shone as a beacon of hope, justice, democracy, and freedom. Losing this ideal, I believe, is devastating to our nation and the world. Instead of being an inspiration, your reckless policies and backing down on international agreements is making us the laughing stock, causing irreparable damage and world-wide insecurity. Our presidency has become a disgrace, tweeting careless remarks in the dead of the night. And so I ask of you, Mr. President, and your fellow leaders, pray tell, what values do you hold? Has the Almighty Dollar replaced God in your book? We are not “one nation, indivisible, under the wealthiest few.” This is not the goal of our nation. What happened to “justice for all” Americans? Under your leadership, what I see is the most blatant failure of our economy and system to serve the American people.
Solzhenitsyn wrote, “We have squandered our resources foolishly without so much as a backward glance, sapped our soil, mutilated our vast expanses with idiotic ‘inland seas’ and contaminated belts of wasteland around our industrial centers—but for the moment at least, far more still remains untainted by us, which we haven’t had time to touch. So let us come to our senses in time, let us change our course!” I agree that irresponsible action towards the earth through inactivity, exploitative practices, and reckless violation has already led us into perilous times and will continue to cause irreversible damage. The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat are making us sick. Asthma, autism, autoimmune diseases, and cancer rates are sky high and growing. Our seas are rising and our coastlines are flooding. Vast expanses of land and cities will disappear under water. Save our future. Look ahead. Our lives depend on it! Take action based on science. Don’t waste another day! Not acting now is a heinous crime against humanity.
Hopefully, Solzhenitsyn predicted, “mankind is able to hold itself back from the ultimate brink of destruction by virtue of its simple instinct for self-preservation … This calamitous future, which is just around the corner at the current rate of development, weighs heavily on us creatures of the present—on those who wield power, on those who have the power of influence and on those who have only a voice to cry …”
He believed that ordinary men are not compelled to “participate in lies,” but that “it is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!”
Dissent, debate, freedom of speech and the press are alive, but not very well, in America. As Solzhenitsyn asked his leaders, I ask my leaders, too: “What have you to fear? … Are you really so unsure of yourselves? … Let the people breathe, let them think and develop! If you belong to the people heart and soul, there can be nothing to hold you back! You may dismiss the councils of some individual, some writer, with laughter or indignation … But history is not like that. Every system either finds a way to develop or else collapses …” Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008).
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who seeks refuge in the Vermont Dream Retreat her Father and family built, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and while walking and painting her way across Spain on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage with her husband Duane.