Dear Donald (not sure if you go by Don),
I don’t know you personally, and even though I don’t agree with much of what you say and do, I’m not making an effort to judge you in any way. This letter has nothing to do with political stances of any sort, either. But you’re the nation’s leader right now, so I simply have some things that I would like to say, and I doubt that we will have a sit-down conversation anytime soon.
I understand that you’re in a rather difficult position in our current state. The world—particularly the United States—is quite a mess right now, and it seems like situations keep getting worse. I can’t imagine how tough it is to be a leader at the moment, but I’m guessing that you and many other individuals at their respective helms are experiencing significant amounts of stress and anxiety.
However, I don’t believe that a global pandemic is our biggest problem.
I’m a high school teacher, and I teach students of all races, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, family histories, and whatever other diversity classifications you want to list. I love each and every single one of them with my whole heart. I’m not saying that because I have to—I don’t have to. I’m saying it because it’s true.
Sometimes my kids act up in class or play on their phones while I’m trying to teach or watch YouTube videos when they’re supposed to be completing their assignments or do a number of other things that they’re not supposed to be doing. Sometimes they say things that don’t make me smile. But on those days and in those moments, I remind myself that I don’t know every single thing those students are going through. Even though I get to know them as best I can, and they learn to trust and confide in me, they don’t always tell me every single struggle they face. As a leader for them, though, it’s important for me to respond with grace and love.
Because each and every single student in that room matters.
America is much bigger than my classroom, and there are certainly many more people in it. Regardless of differences and similarities, every single person in this world matters.
There’s a sign I made that I glued to the wall of my classroom that says something I remind my students of as often as possible: You are valued. You are loved. And you matter. While I want them to learn the material I teach them for the actual class, if they walk away knowing nothing else, I want them to know those truths that are declared on that sign.
And I want them to believe that about all people and treat others in the same way.
There’s a lot of hate in this world, and it leads to corruption and lies and murder and mistreatment of people and injustices and too many other horrible things to name. I don’t understand it. It seems like it takes a lot more effort to be hateful than it does to love people.
I can’t think of a single person who needs hate—but I can think of about 7-something billion people who need love. We’re all dealing with our own junk, and we all need love. Leading with love doesn’t make a person weak. If anything, it makes him or her brave.
Every school day, the pledge of allegiance is recited over our intercom. I know that you are already familiar with this pledge, but I’d like to stress the last part of it: “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
“Indivisible” means not able to be separated. Are we truly living as a united nation with no divisibility? It doesn’t feel like we are. Is there actually “liberty and justice for all”? I think we have plenty of evidence that there is not. Why are we having our students recite something that we can’t even live out as a nation?
It’s time for people to stop hating other people. What good does it do to cause people pain and anger and to harm and kill others who have families and loved ones who are left to grieve? People matter. Our actions matter. The ways we treat one another matter. The decisions you make and the words you say as a leader of this nation matter. Isn’t it time to start encouraging others to love one another and to model that for them?
The last thing I want to remind you of, Don, is what I remind my students of as often as possible: You are valued. You are loved. And you matter.