Dear President Trump,
I am a patriotic citizen. I tear up at the national anthem and ceremonies that honor our past. I am moved when I think through our history of being founded by scrappy outcasts who knew what they wanted and never stopped showing their grit. I know we are not perfect, but I feel proud to be an American. Pride comes with supporting whomever was voted into office. It means standing by the action of democracy and who our country chooses. It’s making the choice to pray daily for our leader that he or she would make wise decisions that keep this country full of everything it represents for generations to come.
Yet at the same time, patriotism as an American means that I have a voice.
As a 5th year teacher, my perspective of the world is often seen through their eyes. I think of my years past third graders with their beamy eyes as they went on their first camping trip ever and slept under the stars. I think of my high schoolers where their eyes are open and wide, but their hands can seem a little shaky as they realize they have the whole world set out in front of them for the taking.
When I think about some of the choices, words, and mindsets of your administration, I am filled with fear for these kids I spend my time with daily. I want to protect them and hold them close. I need to share my voice and let you know what I hope you protect for them.
1. Their Land
I hope that you protect this land. I hope they can grow up bathing in icy streams, seeing a bear for the first time in the wild, and watching sunsets that aren’t blocked by endless development. I trust that you will not just think of this precious place as a way to earn more money, gain more power, or make political edge. I hope you remember what it was like the first time you heard a pack of coyotes howling and the way your hair stood up because they sounded so close. I want these kids to have ownership over their land and continue our path of green energy, reducing, reusing, and recycling. I want them to one day be able to take their own kids to the snowy mountains and show them the way the world quiets as the snow begins to fall. I want us to lead the world in this direction so that that can fly oversees and experience the same feelings with people very different then them, yet so the same as them and they understand we all aren’t as different as we thought.
2. Their Trust
I want you to protect their trust Mr President. Trust is so easily broken and these kids are smarter then any of us give them credit for. They pick up on where your word is just words and they can’t believe it. They hear things and they worry about what this all means for them. As I see immigrant legal families who have worked so hard to be here, just like those young and scrappy founders worked many years ago to start this country you lead, I sense their fear as they ask me if they will always be welcome here. Show them you see them. Show them they are one of us, because really this place is a mix of those who were looking for more. Please don’t put fear in them that doesn’t belong.
3. Their Voice
They are just now learning how to use their voice. Many of them are fine tuning their ability to effectively use this voice. They are watching you sir. When they see you blast off comments through the use of social media, they learn that they too can do this. They don’t see the impact that this makes. They see important information like the changes to DACA announced through a tweet and they learn that people aren’t important and they are allowed to be too busy for others. This is like not calling someone to break up with them. These kinds of things deserve your voice, your face, and your respect in a face to face press conference. They learn if you are important enough, you can use your voice in whatever way you would like. We work day in and day out to teach these kids respect, responsibility and integrity and with 250 characters, our work is over shadowed. I want kids whose ideas are not drowned out by their delivery. I want them to learn how to impact others and that their voice matters, but we do these things with respect, no matter how much we make, our titles, or our name.
4. Their Integrity
Integrity is a huge deal to us. We want them to know that their actions and words show who they really are and that you have to answer to what you put out there. Please take responsibility for your actions. When you are rude or make a comment you regret, show them how to say sorry. Show them how to have humility and ask others for assistance. Show them that you are looking to other countries to work with because you understand we are better together and we can’t answer all of the problems alone. Show them your honesty that yes, you made mistakes before, but you work to make them right. You don’t just pass off mistakes with an excuse, but you own it. You are an example to our future men and women who will lead our families, our country, our businesses, schools and more. Show them mistakes happen and how we handle them.
5. Their World
Protect their world Mr. President. As you make these comments to other leaders, talk poorly of other countries, and make enemies out of our friends, remember that it is these children who will pay the price. They will grow up cleaning up the wars, the brokenness, and the fear. They will be the ones to have to clean up the mess. If nuclear war became a thing, you would be escorted off to a safe shelter and it would be us and these kids that are paying for tweets. Please remember this.
I hope you hear my words and you think about them. I hope you understand that I believe you can do good for this country. I pray that you don’t lose sight of the big picture. I hope that you remember that this is not about making your name look good, but about where this country is headed and what kind of life we want to leave behind. Just the way that I see this world through their eyes, please try to do the same.
In the words of Alexander Hamilton, “There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.”
Show your bravery sir.