Dear Mr. PresidentJune 25th, 2015
tags: empathy
Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

I listened to your Marc Maron podcast the other day. Thank-you for making yourself accessible, for the chance to experience you in a person-to-person, man-cave-garage dialogue.

Even though I read your book Dreams from My Father several years ago, it touched me to listen to you shed light on some of the decisions that went into organizing your life. “Trying on different outfits”, returning to core values such as honesty and kindness, and forgiving ourselves, are life activities that ring true to many of us.

I also appreciated hearing your reasoning and discussion about issues surrounding gun safety laws and race relations. Your efforts to break out of old political patterns and connect with the latent decency within the American people was not lost on me.

So now its easy for me to imagine you in my own living room. And we're having a great conversation over tea. I don't know if you drink tea, or if you can only drink out of unopened water bottles, but protocols and formalities have been dismissed (no disrespect intended). Because, in my imagination we're already in mid-conversation, talking about things that matter and the beautiful truths that form the foundation of our country's belief system and what they mean to the people you lead.

I can imagine that you might listen to what I have to say, and so I'm telling you about my experience working with high-need families in northern California. The non-profit I directed had amazing success reducing the number of children in group homes using a strengths-based model called Wraparound.

It worked because we were able to get around some of the prohibitive structures by blending funding streams from several sources, including State, Federal, CPS, Juvenile Justice and Children's Mental Health. More importantly, it worked because the 'treatment' approach was community-based, and grounded in the assumption that every person we served was innately valuable and in possession of unique strengths. Goodnesscan be operationalized.

Thank-you for using words like "hope" and "love" when discussing what's effective in improving the lives of less advantaged children. The power within a loving intent is beyond our ability to measure. In our outcome-driven culture we too often undervalue and underestimate the potential effects of pure goodness.

I've often wondered how it was we lost a sense of reverence for our humanity. Lincoln referred to the “better angels of our nature" and that makes me smile. It means there was a time when the president of our country could refer to “angels" and “our nature” in the same sentence, and assume a common understanding with his audience. Personally, I think he was on to something.

So much more I could say, but that's enough for now. Again, thank-you for inspiring meaningful dialogue. It's been great 'talking' to you, if only in my imagination.

I wish you every good thing. You are in my prayers.