The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Dear President Obama:

I doubt that this will ever reach your desk.  In truth, I doubt that it will be read by many.  But I write this because as an American it is something I need to say, however great or small the audience.

You and I were fortunate to have the presence of our fathers as a significant influence in our lives.  While our mothers provided us with love and sensitivity our fathers provided us with guidance.  At least I know that my dad gave that to me.

Allow me to take a moment to introduce the man who helped shape my life.

He was a first generation American.  He came from a family of seven siblings.  He never made a fortune, nor did he ever do anything to embarrass either himself or his family.  He was an ordinary person.

My father taught me the things that he had learned from his parents.  Those were simple things.  He taught me honesty.  He taught me charity.  He taught me common sense.  These are valuable things – worth more than all the gold on earth.

I hope that these are things you learned from your father and will pass on to your children.  You could leave no greater legacy.

My father never gave a speech in his life.  He had no need for that.  He taught me that “actions speak louder than words.”  In any event, he was not an orator.  He was a doer.  His actions did indeed speak louder than any words he might have spoken.  That was always a guiding light for me.

My father had a true concern for his fellow human beings.  He never turned down a request for a hand-out from an indigent person.  He had a humility and realized that, if circumstances had been different, he might be in that poor soul’s place.  He was generous because he was humble.

My father grew up poor, eventually raised himself up through hard work and approached life in a very logical way.  We call this “common sense” – but as we both know, “common sense” is the rarest commodity on the planet.

One of the things my father taught me – and he taught this lesson over and over – was to respect other people.  It mattered not to him whether they were rich or poor, black or white, important or unimportant.  All people were equally important to him.

One of the earliest lessons he taught me was about being punctual.  My father used to say that if you were late to an appointment, you were being disrespectful of the other person.  I mention this because of your recent episode with a reporter, Neil Munro.

I heard a great deal of commentary about whether this inappropriate outburst was out of frustration at your being late for the press conference.  In my opinion, that is not an excuse for rudeness.

But, Mr. President you are consistently late for your many press conferences or for the announced time of your numerous speeches.  And I can’t help but think about what my father said about punctuality.  I was surprised that anchor Brian Sullivan on CNBC made that exact point.

I respect the office you currently occupy.  More importantly, I want to respect the person who is its occupant.  After all, it is not only the most important position in the country but in the entire world.

Please show some consideration for those who put you in that position by respecting the ordinary people who elevated you to your present status.  Please work to keeping your appointments in a timely manner.

President Obama, as an American I wish you well on this Father’s Day.  I hope you teach your children as well as my father taught me.




  1. I am ALWAYS early for my appointments – no matter who the person is > whether a hot shot politcian, CEO or plumber.

    Once I was kept waiting past the appointed time by a self important man – he was a potential customer. I could hear him in his office > he was on the phone > for a full 45 minutes PAST my appointed time. Evidently, he was trying to impress me. I was not and after 45 minutes, I walked out. He called my office and asked whether I was interested in winning his business. It was a big account.

    I said NO!

    The last heard, he had wound up his business.

    • I have been late to one business appointment. As I was driving to the prospective new client in the suburbs, I saw a medium-sized dog running along the expressway. Obviously it had gotten on the highway at a previous on-ramp. I knew the animal would probably be killed by the speeding motorists. It took me an hour but I was finally able to pick her up. She was terribly frightened. This made me one half hour late for my appointment – and I stopped at the nearest pay phone to apologize and explain the situation.

      The new client hesitated and asked what I was going to do with the dog now in my car. I told him I hadn’t thought that far ahead, but if he would still see me I would leave the dog in the car and then take her to my vet for an exam. He agreed, and when I arrived at his office I saw a picture of his family and their two dogs. He asked if he could come out to my car and look at my “acquisition” and wound up taking the dog, (they named her Lulu) home and adopting her.

      Lulu lived another fifteen years with them and our business relationship lasted even longer.

  2. nearlynormalized said:

    You must understand–BPT (as told to me my my African American friends—“Black People Time.” What’s the rush?

    • I heard it as CPT (Colored People’s Time) and either term is demeaning. It implies that some people, for whatever reason, should be held to a lesser standard because otherwise they’re not good enough to compete. If that isn’t racism and paternalism I don’t know what is.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        CPT-BPT–To me it is just a way of life–no insulting–just why hurry, what is going to be missed? We are all not wired the same and “Such is life in the big City where the dogs bark at strangers.” Wasn’t Bill Clinton late for meetings? Oh yeah, rumor has it he was our first Black President. Rude. Not in my opinion.

      • Why does it matter? Well, even as I received this comment, I was in the process of writing specifically about why it matters – and I want to thank you, D. for providing your comment which stimulated my thinking on this. The post will be entitled “Your Comments Are Important” and I’ll finish it after the tribe and I go for our morning outing.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        Thank you Juwanna–stay out of the heat or enjoy.

  3. Your blog allowed me to reference back to my own parents who nurtured and protected us in the process giving their children an opportunity to see nobility and goodness in action. Thank you.

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