Dear Mr. President,
Happy Independence Day.
In honor of your second 4th of July in the White House, I want to let you know that, despite your plummeting approval ratings, we here in Minneapolis got the message of your campaign, which was, to quote you and to remind our short attention-span nation, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
In other words, Do It Yourself. Times are surely tough and personal and professional lives are unraveling, but at the same time, in these days when so many look to one superman-slash-savior to clean up everything from oil spills to social ills, I look around every day and see people reinventing themselves as thinkers, artists, workers, people.
Prime example being Kings, the wine bar/restaurant I work at. It was opened in August at the height of the worst recession in 50 years by two sisters, Samantha Loesch and Molly Barnes Hanson, and it quickly has become a hub of conversation, bonding, family, drinking, dining. The best part is that we’re not alone. A new bakery, Patisserie 46, opens up across the street Tuesday, and kitty-corner from them is Café Ena, a staple of fine Latin cuisine for several years now.
It feels like the start of something on a formerly somnambulant corner; a collective with real roots and a bright future based partially on friendly competition and looking out for the other guy.
Too much can be made out of all this, of course — or can it? After all, it’s just a little intersection of locally owned businesses, not a government program that feeds the poor or helps the sick. But to me what’s happening there gets to the heart of what it means to be alive and working in the new America.
I don’t make much money working at Kings, but its riches are born of something you articulated before you were sworn in as president: “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”
We heard you, and it’s on in Minneapolis. We’re working on it. This is a very civilized part of the world that can feel like an oasis from all the rest of the madness — especially at this time of year, when the placid lakes team with kayaks and canoes that serve as ghostly reminders of why the water people of the Ojibwe first settled in this area: peace.
Which brings me to the book that’s enclosed with this letter. It’s Thomas Moore’s “Care of the Soul,” a highly meditative work that more people should know about. Originally published in 1992, it’s an important read right now, about cultivating inner peace without religion or societal mores, at a time when so much of America suffers from an over-mediafied, over-connected, over-opinionated hole its soul. I hope you dig it as much as I do.
Anyway, happy Independence Day from a fellow independent. We’re having a block party to celebrate Kings’ first birthday in August and you and the first family are invited. Until then, stay free and fight the power, like the Clash and Public Enemy said.
P.S. My 11-year-old daughter Helen is looking over my shoulder saying, “Hi, Mr. President. You are awesome, you’re doing great with the United States, and you are representing.”