Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 131

Dear Mr. President,

I applied to go back to school today. After running out of viable alternatives to complete my degree (night school, bank robbery, insurance fraud, etc.) I've finally concluded that I have to face my fear and go back full-time. What is unusual about this situation is that, instead of fearing the unknown, I know exactly what I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of the stress, the inevitable choice between being a good employee and being a good student, (or, put another way, of having the means to support myself or the kind of grades I expect,) of the endless bureaucracy of attending a large school, my own deteriorating academic skills and my failure to measure up to classes growing younger as I age. I've been through it, before, and I do not look forward to doing it again, for an entire year. I've put it off for so long, because of the calculated risks, feeling as though I know, already, that I will fail, and so it is not worth trying. But business as usual isn't acceptable; my life is not what I want it to be, my career, my contribution to my community, nothing about my station in life is acceptable and so I have to put aside my habits and self-doubt and even my pride, and I have to do what is difficult.

Lately I feel like your administration has faced a similar struggle. It's as though you can't seem to break out of the same patterns that force you to perpetuate a status quo you know to be unacceptable. Why, for example, is the White House rallying for incumbent Democrats who don't support your legislative agenda? Why do we continue to prop up Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, or accept defeat when it comes to new energy policy? Our problems are similar, Mr. President, in that we both have the power and will to improve, but somehow find ourselves bogged down in the day-to-day. I understand; it's difficult to get aggressive on your legislative agenda when it's flooding in Tennessee and oil is spilling into the Gulf; when bombs, (or, at least, fair attempts at bombs) are being left in Times Square and Arizona seems ready to replace its law enforcement with a modern-era manifestation of the Glanton gang. But time is slipping away from both of us, and, before you know it, the midterms will be over and it will be time to run again. Your approval rating may be creeping up, but you know that the years will be long gone before you're able to accomplish what you set out to if you wait for the political will to come to you.

Neither of us can afford to waste our time in mediocrity, in half-hearted attempts born of fear. I hope that your administration musters all of its courage and finds new approaches to solving the problems of our day; that you take the difficult paths and fight for your beliefs, without compromising before you even reach the negotiation. You ought to re-evaluate the promises you made to the electorate during your campaign and the progress made so far toward those ends. I worry that four years will pass before you look around and realize you haven't fought hard enough, for fear of failure, or that you've been bogged down with day-by-day crisis management and never got to take on enough of the big picture. A constant reflection on the goals of your administration is essential to the necessary sense of urgency your office requires. Like me, you still have so many people who believe in you, and I know you, too, want that faith to be rewarded.

Respectfully yours,


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