When I was a kid, I thought about running for president.
Of course, it’s something a lot of teachers impress upon kids. “You could be the first black President!” my fifth grade teacher told me (thanks, Obama). I took it to heart, though, and really thought about what I would do if I was able to lead a country.
Solving homelessness was one. Having had family who struggled with keeping a roof over their head, and enduring some difficult times in my own life, I knew even at 8 years old that being without a home or food on the table was a very real possibility. We are the richest country in the world. We could do something to take care of those less fortunate than us.
I didn’t understand the mental health or economic inquiries that plagued our people in the 90s, but I know that challenges like this needed to be taken care of.
I also thought about ending war and bringing about world peace. There were ways to achieve happiness without bombing each other, right? We could find common ground to build bridges, to tear down walls, and to make the future of this nation better for the next generation.
Maybe I was naive. Maybe I didn’t know how cruel people could be. Maybe I was simply too young to understand the complexities of the world. But when I thought of the President of the United States, I thought of someone who would move to inspire the better parts or our nature, that moved us to public service, that gave us guidance in times of tribulation and hope when all seemed lost.
Never did I think we would have a president who threatened war over the smallest slight, one who would vow revenge on American intelligence officials that he saw as enemies, one who did not see the humanity in others regardless of color, content, or creed, but rather enemies who threaten the perceived superiority of his own skin.
If I were a kid today, what would I imagine in a president? And would my dreams today be as pure as they were years ago?
Perhaps we should call on our inner child, who saw love and hope and light in the world, and ask them for guidance so we can look to ourselves as the leaders of the future.
E pluribus unum.