Dear President Trump,
I’ve tried so hard to figure out how to articulate what I need from you, what I believe the people of the United States and the rest of the world need, from you. I can’t find the perfect words, but what I do know is this: It’s not about policies, it’s about character. I won’t presume to judge what’s inside of you, but I believe that, in the long run, a leader’s character is more important than his policies.
You rode to office on a tide of anger, and anger can serve a purpose when it’s directed toward things, rather than people. So build bridges, not walls, sir. Temper your outbursts. Cease to ridicule those who disagree with you. Instead, look to persuade. And find the humility to admit when you’re wrong. Seek counsel from those with other perspectives. Don’t just listen. Hear. Model in yourself what is so desperately lacking in our culture: civility.
When a young man saunters across the street in front of my car, forcing me to slam on my brakes, never deigning to even glance in my direction, I worry. Not about his hostility, but about his indifference. Because differences can be resolved, but indifference can’t. Indifference doesn’t care. It refuses to acknowledge the rights or even the existence of the other.
I beg you not to be that person, sir, but instead to find the root of civility within you that says to others, “You matter. And so, although I disagree with you, I will build a bridge, not a wall.”
I began by saying I didn’t know what I needed from you. I now realize this letter should have been about what you need from me. And so you have it, sir: I pledge to pray daily for your success in modeling and drawing out of the American people—of all people—not just greater material success, but greater civility, greater compassion, greater character.
This is my pledge to you, and I will keep it.