Dear People Living Outside of America:
I am an American. Many of my friends are Americans.
Do not judge us by our president.
I am begging you, and I’ll say it again: Do not judge us by our president.
The vast majority of us believe climate change is a serious problem. We believe we should do everything we can to help the poor. We believe Muslims should not be banned from entering based upon their beliefs. We believe refugees need to be helped. We do not view immigrants suspiciously. We do not support massive pollution. We believe in science. We want our children to cherish education, to attend college, to value public service.
We want to be a part of the world.
Right now, at this moment in time, many of us feel hopeless, helpless, depressed. We know you are snickering our way, and it stings. We know you think the United States has lost its collective mind, and—in a way—you are correct in your assumption. America no longer feels like America; the flag no longer looks like the flag; our national anthem no longer sounds like the national anthem. We have led for so long that it feels itchy and uncomfortable to follow. Yet here we are—followers.
I, for one, am befuddled. I’m sure you are, too. Here’s what happened: There are people among us who fell for the dangerous spewings of a conman, just as myriad other past nations fell for the dangerous spewings of conmen. They believed his promises without looking into his track record; heard what they wanted to hear without understanding the lack of depth and substance behind the words; embraced scapegoating over the collective beauty that marks our shared history. Hate overtook love, anger overtook care, greed stomped out compassion. Everything we’re taught to abhor (selfishness, bullying, limited thought) rose from the depths and triumphed. We were a country in the sunlight, and now we are in a period of profound darkness.
It’s that bad.
I, for one, loathe our president. Actually, loathe isn’t strong enough. I abhor him. I detest him. I want him to lose his money, his name and wind up on the street, penniless and dependent on the programs he and his party disdain. I want him to suffer every sort of humiliation. Mostly, I want him gone from having any impact on anyone.
Why? Because, at their core, presidents are supposed to care about the country they represent and the world as a whole. They’re supposed to look out for the welfare of the people. They’re supposed to put the good of the many over the good of corporate and the greedy. They’re supposed to be curious, open-minded, big-hearted.
Donald Trump is no president. At least not by traditional definitions. He is the worst we have to offer. Perhaps the worst we have ever offered.
I ask a favor of you: Please don’t give up on America. On Americans. We are at our lowest at this moment, but it won’t last. As weird and trivial as this might sound, I was reminded today of a quote from, of all places, Superman: The Movie. It’s Jor-El, played by Marlon Brando, speaking to Clark. “They can be a great people. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”
We are a good people.
We wish to be.
Right now, we merely lack the light to show the way.
Don’t give up on us.
— Jeff Pearlman