Love Letter

I started this letter last year, in a fit of pique at President Obama, who I perceived was moving in the wrong direction. Today, I finished it. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear President Obama,

All of your policies are wrong. Here are some things missing from your policies:

– heart
– soul
– beauty
– love
– joy
– whimsy
– fun
– satisfaction
– simplicity
– peace
– inspiration
– appreciation
– contentment

I know it sounds crazy but I don’t think you can spend all your time focusing on the negative (evil, war, terrorism, insider threats, economic collapse, et. al.) and get a positive result. Not only that but you probably won’t succeed in eradicating evil either. You might even get more evil.

In old time computer jargon, the expression is Garbage In, Garbage Out. I think too much negative garbage is getting into the system. What if, instead of trying to eradicate and control things, we tried to nurture and grow things? What if government policy was created in a spirit of love and genuine compassion for all things, instead of furthering the interests if the privileged few? What if instead of using our war vocabulary all the time, we tried out our Sunday school lexicon and acted like we believed in our own values?

America is the most powerful country on earth and yet we bankrupt ourselves trying to defend against phantom enemies from here to Baghdad and beyond. But if what we tell ourselves is true, that America is the most powerful and important nation in the world, then surely we can afford a little kindness.

Writing this, I know how silly it sounds to be talking about peace and love. But if peace and love aren’t even worthy of consideration, then how are we ever going to have them?

Yes We Can should not mean: yes, we can settle for less, live a lie, give up the American Dream, live in fear, and do as we’re told. We shouldn’t be asked to say yes, we can tolerate endless war, boundless surveillance, and total control. You led us to believe that you exemplified the virtues above, starting with peace, for which you’ve already won a Nobel prize. From your speeches, we know that it’s in your vocabulary to be a good guy and to foster positve change. So here’s a challenge: can you make it part of your policy as well?


Comments | 3

  • Beautiful and so true !

    I’d love to see this put into a format so we could all sign it and have it circulated throughout this country for other folks to sign onto.

    Something like does with their petitions

  • Poetic Transcription

    Because our president is obviously very, very, very, very busy, he can hardly take the time to respond to every missive, however thoughtful.

    I have taken the liberty to respond to this letter, for the president. If there is a lack of verisimilitude or authenticity chalk it up to my misintepretaion of the president’s intent.

    Dear Lise,

    When folks take the time to write, I find that incredibly meaningful. Words are so intersting, Lise, are they not? Words are concrete at times, and yet the very same terms are maleable, mutable, and mercurial at other times. I don’t mean to be patronizing, but I’m sure you realize the exigencies of statecraft make it so that words can be, and often need to be deployed to achieve cetain ends, across an array of challenges.

    The words you have chosen, and highlighted, to express dissapointment in me, are of course not unfamilar to me. In fact they are very familiar. As a father, husband, citizen, these very words are at the peak of the arch of this sacred edifice that houses the human spirit. And that’s why I say, with all due urgency, that even though the emotions and principles these words you invoke may be slipping away, the words themeselves remain a beacon across the ages. And I again thank you for casting them towards me for consideration.

    I want you to reflect upon the fact, above all, that we are a nation of people in a world of nations. And all of the human family, regardless of locale, have words that we cherish and keep as guide posts upon the way. So don’t despair, or abandon hope. For as you have written, so have I read. And heard. And onwards into the future we will travel together, with our words and the deeds that proceed from them, or by them, or tangential to them. You have my word on this.

    • Diamonds and Rust

      Thanks, Spinoza. Reading Obama’s reply to my heartfelt missive, I found myself humming an old song by Joan Baez, specifically the fragment “you who were so good with words, and at keeping things vague…” I wrote a long essay (using words) that started with the premise that the truth can never be conveyed with language. Words are just tools of communication. You can lie with them. And manipulate.

      That said, it seems important to me right now to remember and pay homage to what we’ve lost as people, which is our ability to take seriously any positive human value. How far our great nation has come!

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