Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Cultural Leader

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing today to ask you a personal favor, as one American citizen to his President. I simply ask that you take a moment, and consider yourself in your position, as not an administrator, but a cultural leader.

My name is Tabor, and I've had a privileged life. I was raised in middle-class suburban America, and I'm barely aware of an era before the Internet. Needless to say, my perspective is limited. While I still feel more like a boy than a man at 22, men my age have seen combat and come home to tell about it (or not). At my age, some men have their first, or second, or even third child. At my age, some men have responsibility.

Myself? I have no such burdens. My family's moderate wealth combined with my governments' dedication to students allows me to live carefree. Instead of worrying about my health, finances, or home, I focus on such absurd things as "truth" and "beauty." I am a physics student, which offers an illustrious domain of truth and beauty, all about the laws which govern your heartbeat.

Instead of human laws, I consider physical laws. There are no consequences for breaking these laws, for they are absolute. On the other hand, humanity has produced such a variety of "laws" that one must study for as many years as it takes to learn about the real ones! So I must respect you, and your peers, for the work you did. In the hours you spend, learning new versions of bills, or the hours you spent, learning those laws, you give meaning to who you are.

You are my President, and you have served your country. I did not support you, and I will not support you, with my vote, or with my finances. But you served, regardless. Now, I ask even more of you. I need you to become bigger than you ever have been.

You are one biota, of billions, with a genetic code that developed over millennia. From the statistical perspective, the difference between you and me does not meaningfully exist. The same fact extends to you and me, and more distantly, to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the great Renaissance artists, geometers and polymaths. Our sameness extends to the discoverers of physical law; Newton and Leibniz, Coulomb, Gauss, Faraday, Maxwell, and Einstein. We are the same. Our sameness even stretches to those leaders in distant times and places, whether their leadership was benevolent or cruel. Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, Hitler and worse. We are the same.

We share the inheritance of humanity. We must account for our failures, we must be prepared to question our triumphs. We are humanity, and the only thing that separates us from those who came before is that we have their experience to guide us. This is the essence of our culture, and this is the essence of who you must be.

Whether or not your administration continues this November, realize that you are not, and never were, an administrator. You are America's cultural leader. Moreso, you are a cultural leader of the world. Your presence in our history has placed your essence irreversibly in our minds. Use this to lead our culture, and know everything you do in or out of the Oval Office, is much, much more than the work of one political leader. Your acts are the expression of our culture, writ large.

Thank you for taking on this responsibility, Mr. Obama.

Sincerely, Tabor Henderson