Letter #10: It’s Your Turn
August 31, 2021
These last two weeks have been so hard. The tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan and the horrific loss of life in Kabul last week, a renewed surge of COVID deaths, over a million without power and basic support in New Orleans…these events fill the headlines threatening to overwhelm our senses and numb our ability to empathize. In this time of crisis, instead of our leaders calling us to action as one people and one tribe, we see our leaders stoking the fires of hate and fear — blaming, criticizing, hating, demeaning, and pointing fingers in an ever escalating war of self-interested cowardice. Right now, in this moment, it seems as if the very idea of America is coming apart at the seams.
We need hope. We need to believe.
Ten months ago, I started writing letters to my daughter, Trinity. After fighting so hard and for so long to protect and preserve the idea of America, I had fallen into a deep sadness as I watched us tear each other apart while our enemies sat on the sidelines laughing. I consider myself a man of hope and possibility, but I found myself losing all hope. I wanted to do something…anything…to shake myself out of the terrible sadness and despondency that had gripped me. And it was in that moment, that I looked to Trinity. She became my anchor and the spark that would awaken my fire, my fury and my passion for the idea of America…for our people and what we can be.
I started writing to her. I channeled all my energy into translating deep feelings and values that I had been wrestling with for months into words on paper to another human being whom I loved more than my own life. I was raw, unfiltered and honest. And it was in the sharing of those words with her that I began to find hope again. I wrote to her about the power of an idea…an idea that exists outside of time. An idea that stands for the freedom of lasting meaningful choices for everyone, everywhere. I wrote to her about why I believe this idea is still worth fighting for…and what we must each do to protect it.
After writing the first few letters to Trin, I found that my family and friends connected with them on a deep, visceral level, and they encouraged me to share them with others. I began to post them here — to share with all of you to see if there was something in them that could awaken hope in others as well. And then something miraculous happened…
You began writing back. But not to me…to your own loved ones.
You shared your own dreams for what America can and should be, in the hopes of turning over an inheritance to your own children of strength, hope and courage…not fear, hatred and divisiveness. You inspired me.
I began to realize that, in this highly divisive time of fear, we as a people must lead our country to a better place. We cannot wait for a person in the White House or in the halls of Congress. As Americans, we have become a people of fear, but through our own courage and bold actions, we can shake off the soul-crushing chains that media celebrities and self-interested leaders have tried to shackle us with, and we can once again become a people of hope.
And now…I want you to block out all the noise of this day and hear me talking to you — as if there is no one else — just you. I am now writing and speaking directly to you. In many ways, what happens next can only come from you, and you alone.
Starting today, I want you to take one small step. It’s not a panacea for all the daunting challenges we face…it is a start. I want you to write. Not a book or an OpEd or a thesis. I want you to write a letter. I don’t want you to just “like” or “share” these words that I have written to you today. I want you to write. This is not a letter to the editor or a letter to your Senator. I want you to write a letter to someone you love more than your own life. I want you to tell that person how much you love them. I want you to tell them the vision you have for a better community and a better America and a better world for them…where they can live and breathe and dream and be free.
I am reposting my first letter to Trinity here. I want you to write your letter and then send it to me by following the link and hit “Submit a letter.” And starting tomorrow, I am going to start posting your letters here…one from a different person each day. I want you to come back here and read each of the letters posted. Come back here each morning and start your day with hope. Each day, you will read the hopes and dreams of one of your fellow Americans. We need to hear from each other. We need to talk to one another. We need to be vulnerable with one another. We need to get past the pain and write from a place of love and hope for a better America that we can only create together.
I ask you to join me. Write, read and let your voice be heard. Let’s show our leaders who we are as Americans. Let’s show them that we are bigger and bolder than fear. That we are bigger and bolder than the division. That our differences are actually our core strength. Let’s show them collectively what America is and what we can become. Let’s show them the path. I know that we can do it. I believe in us. After all, America has always been a nation that we the people must own. Join me in this fight…it’s ours to lose.