published in book Letters To America June 2005
to the American People
Dear People of America,
Many times I have traveled across your country,
been delighted by your warm and friendly manner and enchanted by the beauty
of your land. Since my youth, I have marveled at your glorious break
from Old World traditions, the free spirited way you live and how you established
a constitution that enshrined freedom and democracy.
have created a culture like no other since the Ancient Greeks. At
the same time I sense that you are struggling with what you should be about.
May I, a good neighbor to your north, offer a few observations?
Being a Canadian I have watched and studied you with both a critical and
an admiring eye, in the same manner a younger brother might a successful
older brother. I marvel at your willingness to experiment and
try new things. You have an energy and an unabashed enthusiasm for
everything you enter into, whether it be to win Olympic gold medals, put
a man on the moon, or simply get out there and live life to the fullest.
I love this about you.
I grew up
believing in the wisdom, the common sense and goodness of the American
people. I remember an earlier America where people accepted another’s
word, sealed a contract with a handshake, spoke what they thought.
However, this way of being in the world appears to have all but died within
your people. I hope and pray that it will return.
For I have
watched as you have changed into something that makes me uncomfortable.
To begin with, I find frightening the hold that unquestioned religious
belief has on many people in your country; frightening because in my opinion
their beliefs haven't matured. They seem to spend more of their time
trying to force their moral code on others, rather than using what they
believe to transform themselves.
of you are given to seeing Americans as larger and more special than the
rest of humanity. A little awareness that we all share a frail and
fragile existence would, to say the least, be helpful to all concerned.
At the same
time the fact remains that you are a people who have wealth and influence.
You believe that you have much to offer the world. You, the people
of America, perhaps by birth, by place, by accident or by fate, have been
chosen to lead the world. You sense this.
you have chosen to lead the world in the fight against terrorism.
I fully realize the need, and I support your fight. At the same time
(I care about you too much not to say this) I think you have lost your
way, may even have forgotten your destiny.
In this regard,
may I offer a few suggestions. Begin at home. Care for those
who are kin. I cannot help but sense that you are deeply troubled
by the pain you see on your sidewalks. Some part of you knows that
you cannot turn a blind eye to your own. Rescuing the homeless from
your streets, saving the addicted from themselves, taking guns away from
your young people, it seems to me, should take priority.
has a unique tradition of helping. You have been extremely generous
to nations who have suffered war and famine. Can you not turn this generosity
towards your own tired and poor? You need only awaken to what is
asleep within you, what you have enshrined in your Statute of Liberty,
and what perhaps defines you more than you know—your great generosity.
By caring for those among you who cannot help themselves sends a message
that you are a compassionate people.
I see you as a people longing for a task that would call forth the best
in you, a challenge that would bring out your greatness. You are, in my
opinion, a nation desperate for a task worthy of who you are. The
redistribution of wealth, developing a new energy source, eliminating poverty,
pioneering a new world on Mars—these would be endeavors
that would stir the soul, test your mettle, and make you worthy of all
that you have been blessed with.
call forth sacrifice and commitment that bring out a nobility of spirit
and transform a nation. Historically, they leave behind a legacy
worthy of a great people. In undertaking such a noble endeavor you
lead the world by doing what others cannot.
I would that you never forget the compassion and vision that has made you
the people you are.