A Letter to My Son about the Election of Donald Trump

Dear Liko,

Last night, you were worried that Trump would win. You were also worried about school, me, your mother, everything.

This morning, I found out that Trump won. He will be president for the rest of your middle-school years, and possibly beyond.

I’ve been debating what to tell you. Here’s the truth, as I see it: Last night, fear and hatred won. Racism won. Sexism won. Donald Trump appealed to the ugliest, nastiest parts of human nature, and he won with that.

But fear and hatred don’t always win. I have seen fear and hatred lose, and it loses because people like you and me stand up against it. You’ll choose your own path, but this is one I want you to consider: For the rest of your life, I hope, you’ll fight against the ugly impulses Trump embodies. Fight against racism. Fight against sexism.

Not just in other people, but inside yourself.

The people who voted for Trump aren’t demons. They’re pretty ordinary. Their problem might be that they are a little bit too ordinary. We all want to believe that we’re better than everyone else. Some people give in to that feeling.

The most extraordinary people fight against it — by trying to see the world through other people’s eyes, by seeking justice for everyone, by looking inside themselves to try to find some balance between their needs and those of others.

I’ve tried to be one of those people. I’ve tried to raise you to be one of the people who fights back. I haven’t always lived up to my own ideals; no one does. But I do my best, and I want for you to do your best — and try to be your best.

You’ve always been interested in history and politics. So was I, when I was your age. And when I was your age, we had a president who wasn’t much better than Trump. When I was about your age, I gave myself a mission: make this world a better place. I tried to do that by getting involved with movements for more justice and equality. After you were born, I turned to writing, trying to help people understand the world and make better decisions.

The world didn’t end when I was your age, and it’s not going to end now. I kept growing and the world kept changing around me. You will keep growing and the world will keep changing, in ways that are both good and bad.

I hope that you will try to be part of the good, always, as much as possible. I hope you’ll study hard, and keep your eyes and ears open. Learn to talk with people, to ask questions, to listen, to build bridges between different kinds of people and help them to work together. This is something you can do no matter what jobs you take. You can speak up against fear and hatred, and try to build bridges with people, wherever you are, in whatever work you decide to do. This is about who you are and who you want to be, not what you do for a living.

This is work that involves a lot of failure. Believe me, son: There are times when you will fail, when you’ll be defeated. I have failed, I have been defeated.

Last night, we were defeated. So what are we going to do with that? We’ll do what we have to do: try to learn from our mistakes and try again. And we’ll keep trying to cultivate curiosity, love, kindness, gratitude, and forgiveness, even when everyone else seems filled with hatred and fear.

I love you, and we’re going to be fine. Let’s talk about what you and me can do together to make this world a better place.