Brandon Kim is a senior at Culver City High School. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Kim)
Culver City High School

Message to my next president: Who have you sworn to protect?

Dear future president,

In my opinion, one of the trademarks of being a good leader is the ability to look out for others. This requires enormous self-sacrifice, of course, but also compassion. It requires the desire to help, and to actively protect others. 

Most people are capable of this, to some extent. At least when it comes to the ones they love; for example, I am sure that you, as a spouse and parent, would do anything for your partner and children. What is harder is expressing empathy for the other. It is easy to want to protect your in-group, but it is far more difficult to identify with a stranger, or worse, someone you hate. 

I am writing because I believe that there is a dangerous trend in politics today, one of dehumanization. I am writing because I want to know who you, the president of the United States, have sworn to protect. Is it only people who look like you, or share the same culture as you? Is it only people who think like you? Who have you chosen to look out for?

As the leader of 328 million individuals, you have a responsibility to help every single person living in this country. Whether you identify with those people, whether you count them as part of your “group,” you must serve them.

This year has marked one of the most divisive, turbulent periods in our country’s history. At a time when Americans are struggling with crises of all sorts, from coronavirus to racial injustice; it is important that you remain a leader of the people. It is important that you listen to everyone’s concerns, and not dismiss them. It is important that you recognize the part that every American can play in building this country, whether they are Democrat or Republican or something else entirely.

I’m not asking you to compromise on your ideals. I’m not saying that you have to like the opposing side, or try to get them to like you. All I’m saying is this: have some empathy for the ones you disagree with. They are human beings too.

 

Sincerely,

Brandon Kim

Culver City High School