It's too long, of course. Given that, and the fact that I sent it in a hand-addressed envelope, the odds of him actually ever seeing it, much less reading it, are damn slim.
But its the first letter I've ever written to a President or President-elect of our country, and that says something positive, I think.
November 4, 2008
Dear Mr. Obama,
I am glad that you won the Presidential election of our country today. I had hoped that you would. I judge that you have a better grasp of the crucially important issues and necessities facing this country and the world than our current President and the other candidates do. Also I had hoped you would win because I perceive that you have the potential to be a true statesman, the first such to come to the office of the Presidency in a long, long time.
There is a tremendous responsibility that comes with such gifts of leadership as you have evidenced. That responsibility is to use your gifts with all the wisdom you can muster (and borrow from others) in the service of the greatest good for all -- not only our country and its human citizens, but all the Earth's children and substance. I think (and hope) that you know this.
I have heard you say, "It won't be easy."
It -- making the changes we must make -- certainly won't. We don't just live in "interesting" times. As I hope you understand more than many, we live in extraordinary times. The problems we face are enormous:
- global climate change with increasingly erratic and dangerous weather,
- the related problems of global demand for fossil fuels (especially petroleum and natural gas) outstripping supply, permanently,
- a now-global economic crisis resulting from the too-long-held fantasy of unending economic growth, based upon wasteful consumption of resources,
- a world human population that has exploded exponentially since the Industrial Revolution began, thanks in large part to the heavy use of fossil fuels -- and that now certainly exceeds the carrying capacity of Earth,
- a futile and disastrous resource war in Iraq,
- Outsourcing of jobs, manufacturing, and other economic necessities from the US to other countries,
- Increasingly destructive monoculture-based, agribusiness-based and import-based food production and supply, to the point that there are places in the heart of the so-called American Breadbasket that are food deserts to the people living there, and to the point that the vast majority of our population must go to a grocery store containing foods that have been transported an average of 1500 miles (or to a restaurant) to eat,
- Pollution of land, air, groundwater, and surface water,
- Unprecedented lowering of the watertables in our aquifers, with accompanying water shortages,
Perhaps one of the things that contributes most to the difficulties that face us is that so many people do not really understand the problems and their implications. In fact, very many deny them, and become angry when they are discussed.
"The American way of life is not negotiable."
I don't remember now who said that, but I shake my head in dismay whenever I think of it.
Personal cars, huge cities, McMansions, grocery stores full of exotic foods shipped from other continents, throw-away "consumer" goods, massive agribusinesses based on monoculture production forced by artificial inputs of inadequate petroleum-based fertilizers and fuels, eating many of our meals out at restaurants rather than at home, even flush toilets and electricity... None of these are necessary parts of the American way of life.
And most (though perhaps not all) are ultimately unsustainable, being dependent upon a high consumption of fossil fuels that are being used up, and are uniquely concentrated sources of energy that cannot be completely replaced.
We Americans must power down -- we will have no choice ultimately. If we do not consciously, carefully, thoughtfully and quickly create the lower energy culture that is ahead of us, it will be forced upon us -- not by any enemy, nor by any self-righteous idealist of whatever stripe, but by the laws of nature.
Actually, there is another option. We can continue to burn fossil fuels -- concentrated sources not only of energy but also of carbon dioxide -- at high rates as long as we can.
In so doing, we will continue the unprecedented build-up of greenhouse gases that is already causing irreversible global warming and global climate change. In so doing, we risk triggering a run-away heating of our Earth that would turn it into another uninhabitable Venus. (I hope and pray that we can still avert this disaster.) If such global warming happens rapidly enough, we will have no need to change our ways, for we humans and vast numbers of other species an Earth will suffer extinction.
As for me, I prefer to steward this Earth in such a way that it continues to support human life and as many of the rest of the life forms currently in existence as possible.
I hope that we will have the wisdom, creativity, will, resources -- and time -- to rebuild a diverse but united way of life that is based upon local sustainable economies and close interdependent communities of neighbors who cherish their piece of Earth and each other, while maintaining a respectful, open communication with and concern about the global community and the Earth as a whole.
Please use your considerable leadership skills to help us all to build the sustainable cultures we and the Earth need. Please do not sugar-coat the situation we face. Please do not cling to old, disastrously unsustainable myths of unending economic growth, or a cornucopian illusion that somehow we will find a technological way to repeal the laws of thermodynamics and continue our current enormously high consumption of energy and resources. Do not give us "sound-bytes" and over-simplifications, or refrain from saying things that many might not want to hear.
Please, learn what you and we need to learn, be open and honest with us, and help us to problem-solve and make changes together, for the good of all.
"We the People" cannot wait for our government and its leaders to catch up with us in making the changes in culture and lifestyle that we must make. But if our government(s) and leaders will join us wisely, quickly, and effectively, we all might do a better job of transitioning to a sustainable and desirable culture and way of life, and perhaps experience less pain in the process. We need a well-informed government with enough humility, wisdom, and responsibility to know when and how to support its people in making necessary and desirable changes, and when to get out of our way.
Please be the President we need.
Dr. Dorothy Cordochorea
I think I just needed to write that stuff down, to clarify my personal thoughts and hopes, whether Mr. Obama ever sees it. (Still, I would be very pleased indeed if he were to actually read it.)