From the First Floor: An Open letter to President Barack Obama
Monday, February 09, 2009
Dear Mr. President,
I am in trouble, and I need your help. The tallest building in our city is leaning and appears on the verge of toppling over, thus putting our entire community at risk. The highest floors in the building are banks and large corporations, but we are simple, single-family residents who occupy the first floor, and I am frightened. If the building falls, will we be crushed in the rubble? Can you help?
I hear rumors about plans to renovate our building. The rescue plan involves building onto the top stories, especially the highest floors! Mr. President, I mean no disrespect. I voted for you, and I want to trust you, but those of us on the first floor have yet to comprehend the logic of adding weight to the highest floors of a skyscraper when it is obvious to even the simplest of us that bolstering the foundation is clearly the best strategy. Shouldn’t we renovate this skyscraper from the bottom up?
Furthermore, Mr. President, I constantly see in the news that some of the tallest hardwood trees in the woods of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and numerous states across the nation are dying. Yet again, gossip has it that our nation’s leaders plan to “save” the tallest trees by propping them up using timber from smaller trees and tender plants in the forest. Surely, such wise leaders as our representatives in Washington D.C. are practical enough to know what to do with a dying tree, even if it is the tallest tree in the forest. In the countryside, they let it fall (or cut it down) and saw it up for valuable timber. They build houses and heat their homes with so much wood! Additionally, the cycle of life dictates that smaller trees quickly sprout and flourish in the space and enhanced sunlight provided by the fallen giants so that these little saplings soon replenish the forest.
In truth, you won our votes, and you still have our confidence. Perhaps old fashioned wisdom such as renovating from the bottom up or allowing old trees to fall so that smaller ones can grow isn’t as easy as it seems. Maybe if, in prehistoric times, leaders were as knowledgeable as Washington is, they could have saved the dinosaurs from extinction.
Your friend on the first floor,
Michelle Webster, Cleveland teacher
Lincoln West High School
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.