Dear Senator Hatch,
I received the letter you sent to your constituents as a follow-up to your op-ed in TIME titled “I Am Re-Committing to Civility.” I opened the letter with some trepidation as to what I might find since I’m not really on your “team”. To my surprise, I agreed with you! And not just on one or two points. I wholeheartedly agreed with the entire kit and caboodle. I know. I’m as shocked as you are. After all, there are many things on which you and I do not see eye to eye: marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose, health care, the fabulousness of coffee – to name just a few. However, when it comes to the points you made in your letter, we are definitely on the same page.
You begin the letter by stating that “This summer was a season of extreme political division,” and you go on to reference multiple atrocities that our country faced. You question why our country is divided, and you determine that we have lost civility. You then lay out the steps you believe it will take to restore our nation.
Speak Responsibly. You indicate that our words have consequences. From the things we say online and post on social media, to conversations with neighbors – we are each responsible as much for our words as we are for our actions. “It’s incumbent on all of us, then – from the President to Congress on down – to be responsible for our speech.” Although you don’t come right out and say that we must treat each other with “kindness,” that was certainly the take away for me.
Practice Media Mindfulness. You asked that we get our news and information from varied and diverse sources. That we broaden our horizons, as it were. To try and see another point of view – how someone else might feel – “…to be better prepared to engage in civil debate with friends and neighbors.”
Venture beyond the comfortable confines of our social circles. You are basically asking us to fraternize with the enemy. To try Thai food. Have a beer (or Sprite or whatever) with the guy in the red ball cap with four letters on the front. Maybe we have more in common than we think. “It’s on us to reinvigorate the public discourse by recommitting ourselves to the virtues of compassion, comity, and compromise.”
And that’s when you really got me. You used the “C” word. Compassion.
See, compassion is kind of my thing. I write about compassion often. About having compassion not only for those who may be outwardly suffering, but also for those who may not understand the sufferer. For those who judge out of fear. Out of ignorance. Out of despair. I write about compassion and love. I am a writer of hope. Because hope will sustain us.
We are at a crossroads, Sir. You are asking much of your constituents, and the nation. And I believe we are up to the task. However, our President, your President, is not. He chooses not to speak responsibly, which puts our Democracy, and our very lives, at risk. His speech is filled with anger and hate. He taunts and bullies. He is not kind.
The President of this great nation has made media the enemy. He plays the Shell Game with facts – twisting and turning, hiding and maneuvering information until we doubt our own sanity. It’s a dangerous, vile form of Gaslighting and we are reeling from the effects.
But the most egregious is this: The leader of our country has no compassion. It appears that he does not have the capacity to value another person simply because they are a human being. And, because he has no compassion, civility is lost. In your words, “Without it, little separates us from the cruelty and chaos of rule by force.”
So, Senator, in your letter you asked me to do something. To act. To not be passive. “To make the necessary changes.” And I, in turn, ask the same of you. I am a single voice, and I will do my part. Loudly.
You are a Senior Senator. You are the President Pro Tempore. You are well respected and well liked among your peers. In laymen’s terms, you are a very big deal. You have the power to make the necessary changes.
And, to be clear, this cannot be making changes “quietly behind the scenes.” This must be a bold, shout it from the rooftops THIS IS NOT OKAY AND HERE’S WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT change.
Humbly, I am asking you to change the course of history. To not go gentle into that good night. To do something I challenge myself to do every day: be brave, be honorable, be kind.
I am asking you, Sir, to save the world.