Open letter to President Obama from an American teenager


I am a year too young to vote, but I am not a single day too young to care.

Dear President Obama,

Tuesday night- you know, election night- I was sitting up late in my room. I had finished my homework, an essay on Hindu festivals. But I wasn’t sleepy, and so, being a teenager, I didn’t go to bed. Instead, I sat on the floor of my bedroom and flipped through my World Religions textbook, to the end of it, the part I only hope I’ll be at by the end of the semester.

There I found a full page dedicated to you. It was “Excerpts from Obama’s Historic Cairo Speech,” given in June 2009.

And I began reading it.

You were talking to the Muslims in Cairo. I think you started out talking about the attacks of 9/11.

All this has bred more fear and more distrust[.] And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end. I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap and share common principles, principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings[.]

Mister President, those are beautiful words. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., you paint a picture of peace and hope in this passage and those that follow. Principles of justice and progress! Principles of tolerance and dignity! My heart sings at your words!

But really? Dignity of all human beings? Do you honestly believe in that? I hate to bring up a black mark on your record on the day after your re-election, but you must realize that you haven’t consistently defended human dignity. As an Illinois senator, you voted against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act – four times! As president, you’ve repeatedly defended and promoted abortion on demand, and you’ve stood by Planned Parenthood, an organization that strips countless women and children of their dignity.

Mister President, your words are beautiful, but I know the facts, and I have to doubt their integrity.

As I read on through your speech, another clause jumped out at me.

When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience[.]

Yes, and when innocents in America are aborted, that is also a stain on our collective conscience. Mister President, world peace is a very worthy goal. However, I think that national peace is a prerequisite for world peace, and frankly, I don’t think that national peace can be attained while we persist in killing our own children.

My eyes flew down the page and paused at yet another ironically beautiful passage.

The same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia, to Eastern Europe to Indonesia[.] It’s a story with a simple truth: Violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is claimed, that’s how it is surrendered.

Mister President, you don’t know the truth in your own words. That statement is so powerfully true, universally true – to use violence is to surrender moral authority, and moral integrity as well.

But if you truly believe that violence is not a solution, then why do you permit it to happen here in America? Why do you cheerfully ignore the violent deaths of nearly four thousand children every day? Don’t you see that these acts of violence are problems and not solutions? You speak of hope, but your words are emptied by your actions. Do you think abortion offers even a glimmer of hope for either a desperate mother or her helpless unborn child?

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach as I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor last night. I felt betrayed by your inconsistency. I felt hurt that you, as the leader of my country, would stand back from the violence, and, in your own words, surrender your moral authority.

Mister President, I am a year too young to vote, but I am not a single day too young to care. I care about my nation. I care about my peers that are dying violent deaths every day.

When I caught my breath and cleared my eyes, I scanned the rest of the page. There were many marvelous truths printed there, but I didn’t think too hard about them. I figured that that was okay, because you probably didn’t, either.

I stopped again near the bottom of the page.

… a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world[.] … We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning.

I’ve got that courage.

You see, don’t you, that your words don’t mean much. Your words that day in Cairo were amazing. You proclaimed truth and hope relentlessly from your podium. The speech you delivered was a masterpiece! But your actions haven’t backed up your words. You haven’t defended human dignity or fought violence here in your country.

I may not yet be old enough to vote, but I do have the courage of which you spoke, the courage that it takes to make a new beginning. I am going to use that courage to fight for life and liberty for all the unborn, for those who never had the chance to fight for themselves. Yes, I am going to defend human dignity and fight violence right here in America.

Respectfully yours,

An American Teenager

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