23 Jan ‘Dear Mr President’: the name is different but the invitation remains the same
Back in February 2014, I wrote to President Obama with a letter inspired by the famous line from Kahlil Gibran: ‘Work is Love Made Visible.’ I was suggesting that if we taught our children to do any work they have more from love and service than from anger and resentment, they might fare better if anyone ever came along promising to rescue them from their disaffection.
I am sending a copy of that letter to President Trump. As one who clearly favors ideas of only 140 characters, I’ve tried my best to make the letter more readable for him by cutting its length by almost 50%! (See Love Letter 2017)
Ah, enough of the gags. The fact that I was writing to Obama was never the point. Do you think was I going to turn around to everyone and say ‘See, I knew I was right. President Obama thinks love is a good idea too!’
No, the objective of the letter was that it would invite all of us to reflect on where we are coming from in our lives – from love, or from fear. That’s why the 2017 version of the letter is addressed to You.
I believe this message is even more timely than in 2014. We can – and we should – march and demonstrate and protest – but President Trump is not going to change for us. He might not even go away for many years. He may well do bad things. But none of that avoids the truth that, if we want something better and different, it has to come from inside us and only then out into the world. There is no other way.
When people complain about their work and tell me what’s wanted or what’s missing, they rarely mention love, of course. But they do wish that their work had more compassion and creativity and purpose and connection and service and joy.
Well, all of these qualities are expressions of higher human consciousness – whereas the fear and anger and the separation that plagues so many of our institutions are natural outcomes of lower levels of consciousness.
The challenge for us all is to keep ‘rising up’ – not just in terms of physical protest, but in inner development. Both the outer and inner actions are radical.
To paraphrase my first mentor Peter Sole: ‘Countries don’t change; people change. Countries change in units of one.’
All best, and with love