Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

To Obama from Alice Walker

Another gem from my mentor and from the morning mail – I share this with you because I have never seen it before; it is from Alice Walker who wrote a controversial book in America called The Color Purple.

An Amazing letter, by an amazing woman!!

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us
being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you
know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history.
But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried,
year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only
to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law,
is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation
is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time,
and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North
America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done.

We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us,
the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this,
that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength.
Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom,
stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope,
previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster
that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible
for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility
that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own
life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and
play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One
gathers that your family is large.

We are used to seeing men in the
White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the
building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and
stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind
us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family
deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so
bad now that there is no excuse not to relax.

From your happy,
relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so
many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and
houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can
manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear
to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the
reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies.
Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and
pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us
who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn
actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are
ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are
commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect
our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my
mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought,
“hate the sin, but love the sinner.”

There must be no more crushing
of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a
means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to
people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this
leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is
presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul
as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because,
finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain
a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies,
the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to
mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies.

And your smile,
with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust
characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of
healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and
relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our
way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker


November 15, 2008 - Posted by | Family Issues, Free Speech, Generational, Interconnected, Leadership, Living Conditions, NonFiction, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual


  1. Nice! And what a coincidence! I just watched “The Color Purple” last night. 🙂

    Comment by mario | November 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. No kidding, Mario? What did you think?

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 15, 2008 | Reply

  3. Great movie! I believe Whoopie got an Oscar for her part.

    Comment by mario | November 16, 2008 | Reply

  4. It has been banned from many schools because of the language. I think the language was necessary to keep it real; what do you think?

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 16, 2008 | Reply

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