Letter To A Young Donald Trump

Dear Donald,

I was watching my son playing in the yard yesterday, and I suddenly thought about you when you were his age. I wondered what you were like then; the friends you had, the memories you made, the dreams that filled your head. I imagined you there among his friends; running and laughing and tumbling wildly into the grass. I began wishing I could go back and tell you something. I wished I could step into your story then, and say the words that someone else may not have told you.

I’d tell you what I tell my son: that you are worthy of love, not because of the things you do or the successes you have or the achievements you pile up. I’d tell you that you don’t have to earn or deserve or win this worth. It is your only real birthright.

I’d tell you that you are not defined by your outward greatness, but by your inner goodness; by the way you treat the people in your path, the compassion you show, the kindness you extend, the love you give, the sacrifices you make. You are not the person who exists in the glare of the spotlight but the one residing in the deepest hidden recesses of your heart. 

I’d tell you that you do not matter less than anyone else, nor more than anyone else; that you are not in competition with the world, you are connected to it. I’d tell you that another’s prosperity doesn’t have to come at the expense of your own. I’d tell you that this life isn’t about you—it’s about you and those you get to share this planet with for a brief space and time.

I’d tell you not to chase the applause of fickle strangers, which though intoxicating in the moment is Fool’s Gold. It will lead you to do and say and become things that right now you’d never dream you’d do, and that once that applause fades (and it always does), you will be altered by all that you did to receive it.

I’d tell you that your life will move by more quickly than you can ever imagine, and that at the end of it, yours will be measured by whether or not the world was made more or less good, decent, and benevolent by your presence. Your real legacy will not be made of steel and stone and glass, but by the choices you make, the words you speak, the lives you renovate. And I’d tell you to choose wisely, because the older you become the less chance you have to rewrite that legacy. Eventually you will lose the ability to manage perception of your truth. You will simply be left with what is true—and that will be your epitaph.

When you were my son’s age, I don’t know how frequently you laughed or how often you felt loved or what words were spoken over you when you were just figuring out who you could be. I don’t know whether you often heard words of encouragement or received gestures of affection. I don’t know how you became the person you’ve become.

We all have our stories and we are the product of those stories. We are the sum total of every beautiful memory, every painful defeat, every warm embrace, every harsh word. And I can’t help feeling like somewhere along the way your story let you down, that at some moment or maybe in a million smaller moments, those entrusted with showing you how to live—failed you.

I feel like the young boy you were missed something; because for all the wealth you’ve now acquired, for every accolade you’ve accrued, for all the measurable achievements you’ve recorded—you still seem a miserable, sad, bitter man who doesn’t believe he has done enough. You still seem like a desperate young boy, trying to feel worthy, trying to prove deserving, trying to purchase belovedness.

Maybe none of this would have made a difference to you then. Maybe it wouldn’t have altered your path in the slightest. Maybe it would come to bear little fruit in your adult heart. But I’m going to keep speaking these words over my son, in the hopes that he is made a better human being by them; because I don’t want him to end up being an old man who has gained the world but lost his soul.

I want the boy playing in my yard today to know that he is loved and valued and made for goodness. I want generosity to come easy for him. I want compassion to be his default response. I want fear to be a stranger. I want him to be wealthy in friends.

I want him to be the kind of person the world needs.

I hope these words change his story. 



94 thoughts on “Letter To A Young Donald Trump

  1. Those are beautiful words that every child deserves John. I cannot imagine any mother wanting their child to be like Donald even in his younger days. No matter his wealth It cannot seem to fill the hole he has inside. He has to have an “enemy” to mock, to disparage, to bully. His life must be exhausting. He needs to be the “winner” no matter how small his perceived “foe”. I cannot admire him for that.

  2. What a loving way to look at someone – thank you for sharing. I think so many of us are still vainly searching for our parents’ withheld approval when we were small and malleable.

  3. John, thank you for this. As a preacher, I’ve really been struggling with how to preach in the Age of Trump. I’m so full of my own anger and fear and disgust that it’s hard to have any compassion at all for those who seem so determined to oppress and harm the very ones we are supposed to work hard for. These compassionate words are helping me move more towards my own faith: he, too, is a child of God, and he has lost his soul. Maybe I can find a little of the pity for him that I need in order to be a better advocate for justice and part of the resistance without losing my own soul to rage and bitterness. AND your words have reminded me to keep saying those things to my son: you are worthy, you are loved, you are whole, you are beautiful, you are important, and God will use you to change the world for the better. Thanks.

    • What a beautiful confession. It’s comforting to hear a preacher voice doubts and struggles and identify with the same doubts and struggles others face. Give me an honest preacher any day; you’re richer to hear and further growth for my faith is surely to follow. Thank you for your comment, is a balm to me.

      • Conviction leads to repentance, and repentance to salvation. There ain’t no other way… unless, of course, it’s the Book Of Pavlovitz that is your bible…

        • Apparently you feel it is by the book of Skip? I personally fail to see where this comment speaks as any kind of a witness to further the Kingdom of God? It is quite apparent to me that you have failed yourself, in your own message.

          You apparently have not allowed his conviction to work in you, yet you wish for it to work in others. Sounds like the olive tree that is trying to bare figs. We seem to have many Levi & Priest’s but all too few Samaritans. Seems His word is true ” In the last days many hearts will and have waxed cold”!

        • Skip,
          “Conviction leads to repentance, and repentance to salvation. ”

          Does this mean that if Donnie is convicted that he will repent?

    • Shut up Joe. I’m sick of your incessant drivel. You could make a pretty day rain. You couldn’t evelate yourself enough to understand Dick and Jane. Anything that JP writes, on his blog, not yours, is too far beyond your heart to understand. And you’re more than welcomed to leave… Your “fun” is wearing really thin. Don’t get anywhere near my comments. And I’m absolutely certain this particular pastor doesn’t need your brand of instruction or opinion… Leave her alone. She’s done nothing to you and her comment was directed to JP… Who you are most certainly not. I would love to meet you in that dark alley and drag your stupid self right out into the light.

      • Why do some liberals vehemently loathe Trump?
        Melissa Lawrence
        Melissa Lawrence, works at Vandelay Industries

        It’s really difficult to answer this question without seeming insulting to some populations. I am certain there are some reading who will actually take offense to the first sentence as well. There are so many reasons to loathe him both as a person as well as the POTUS. I don’t even know where to begin. However, I will do my best to expound on my current feeling about him both completely and concisely.

        May read the remainder here:


      • Trump demonstrates his lack of understanding of the First Amendment

        Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People’

        President Trump, in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation’s press organizations, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the nation’s news media “is the enemy of the American people.”

        Even by the standards of a president who routinely castigates journalists — and who on Thursday devoted much of a 77-minute news conference to criticizing his press coverage — Mr. Trump’s tweet was a striking escalation in his attacks.

        At 4:32 p.m., shortly after arriving at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., Mr. Trump took to Twitter to write:

      • Leave Our Churches Alone

        Several Latino men had just left the hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia when a dozen federal agents suddenly surrounded them, pushed them up against a wall, and began checking their immigration status.

        Under a policy set by the Obama administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are supposed to avoid churches and other “sensitive locations.”

        But now that Donald Trump is president, ICE has apparently decided that it’s okay to lie in wait outside a church and indiscriminately detain those leaving it.

        This raid appears to be the first of its kind, so we need a huge national outcry immediately – before ICE attacks the sanctity of any more churches.

        Sign the petition:

        Sending agents to lie in wait outside a church is unacceptable. Please respect the ancient tradition of sanctuary by following both the letter and the spirit of the “sensitive locations” policy.


      • Yeah, I got more love where that came from. Like I said… No elevation. And your presence here causes me, on too often the ocassion, to sink to in the same abysmal hole you’re in. This place needs a moderator.

        • Leaked tape reveals Trump invited club guests to ‘come along’ during cabinet interviews

          Newly leaked audio from a November party at President Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf club reveals then president-elect Trump touting to guests his scheduled interviews on premises with potential cabinet members and White House staff.

          “We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump says in the tape, obtained by Politico and published Saturday. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.”


        • I agree about the moderation idea. Joe Catholic’s only purpose is to disrupt the commentors and promote Trump. I enjoy the diverse comments up until Joe steps in and disparages people. I have to admit Joe you make me extremely angry with your dismissiveness towards what people are thinking and feeling.

          • I believe John P expects us to act like adults and moderate ourselves.

            What I have noticed over and over that as soon as someone responds rudely to Joe C, no matter how deservedly, the nastiness escalates. Joe C regards that as a challenge to get revenge.

            So the trick is, don’t read Joe’s stuff and you will not be triggered. If no one ever responded to him he would get bored and go away but there is always someone who does.

            • I suppose that makes sense to someone but we can’t moderate the blog ourselves or prevent Joe from jumping in on comments. Joe has free reign to do and say what he wants. I would never subject my friends to that kind of behaviour in my home. I’d kick Joe out on his butt so fast his head would spin.

                • That has not been my experience. I have kicked disrespectful and abusive people out of my house and my home is all the more peaceful and productive because of it.

                • Kathy, I find it hard to believe you fail to understand that I m talking about this blog. If you consider someone abusive, a bully, or a troll, then simply don’t read and, instead, delete. That way you control yourself.

                  We have no control over anyone’s behavior except our own. We can sink to their level or we can rise above it. Our choice.

                • Actually Gloriamarie in a civil society there are rules and regulations to moderate and control people who cross the line. We are not victims here. I am not the kind of person who can ignore a disruptive a** . I cannot not turn a blind eye. I take action and fix things, because that is my nature. Joe is a problem because he is purposely disruptive, if that is the way it is to be then as we say in Canada, “C’est la vie” and ” À plus tard”

            • Well if this isn’t a backhanded comment to me. I just got finished reading a previous blog about speaking up and was admonished for not doing it more. There was nothing political about my response to the preacher. I thanked her for being OPEN about her position. And abusive Joe stomps on the response. And if it isn’t him… It’s him. Or others. I can hang with Leslie. I’m sick of it. This blogs ends up being the same abusive place time and again. No wonder Sean and Yattwood and Jem and Carmen and the doctor and 50 Cent Father and many other good people, great people have left. Charles is on the verge. Kathy’s on the verge. These folks were beautiful thinkers with love in their hearts. This place isn’t supervised, it’s run amuck. There is no exchange anymore and no graciousness. I get enough of that away from the keyboard. This is OCD. I’m done.

              • Ah, I think that is what Joe is trying and apparently succeeding in doing, drive everyone away. Then he can claim he’s a winner like his idol. If we give in to the hate and take our love and graciousness away, what’s left. I am convinced that’s how they win. They wear us down and then we throw the towel in. I for one am not going down without a fight. Peace…………..

                • Kathleen, this is not me giving in to hate. I don’t hate Joe. I am wholeheartedly and passionately against his agenda It is not good enough to ignore him. To let him go around and make hurtful comments to others who are not making hurtful comments is appalling to me. Worse than that I can’t do anything about it. I am not interested in a fight. I humbly submit to the authorities that be and the rules that govern this blog. If it means this is a free for all and Joe is allowed free reign, then I must respectfully decline participation.

          • Joe Catholic, this is the last time I will be responding to you.

            At my table I have atheist friends, Muslim friends, Christian friends of many different denominations, LGBTQ people and friends who have been in jail, in rehab– a good mix of which I am sure you have as well. I love diversity, I love how differently each person expresses their faith– I love discovering different cultures and getting to know people of all persuasions– one thing my friends, who sit at my table, have in common is civility and respect. No one is going to be permitted to say that their religion is better or their politics are right or that pigs can fly. At my table I welcome people to share food and themselves with each other and to listen, to encourage, to keep the bond of peace with each other.

            Joe, the thing is you don’t know any of these people on the blog– what their backgrounds are and why they come here. Many have indicated they are broken, have been abused, have suffered depression and loss or are beaten down. Many have said John Pavlovitz brings them hope and comfort. What you have done that I find so wrong is to trample on people’s heartfelt comments because you are so obsessed with your own agenda.

            You would not be welcome at my table. I can’t have you there. Not at this time anyway.

            Goodbye and may you fare well.

            • Kathy, I commend you for your diversity. I, too , have a table that welcomes civility and respect of which the troll has none. Ignore him.

              Gee, isn’t he trying to be civil by leaving his many alter-egos behind. Maybe he regrets his vote.

              • In my opinion, we are meant to be with diverse people and to learn from one another. How else are we supposed to learn. No one is better than no one another, just different.

            • Kathy, I believe your table would be awesome to be a part of. In my opinion, your table represents, exactly what the Lord wants and expects us to do. I wish I met you on the outside to give you a hug. God bless.

          • Kathy, I agree with you. It has nothing to do with different opinions or outlooks, I have always been interested in how others feel but Joe isn’t interested in giving his point of view, he is interested in denigrating us, not in trying to see our point of view, anyone who doesn’t subscribe to his dogma is just plain wrong and we are all going to hell. Who needs that. It won’t compel me to change my view. You need facts and kindness, not do what I say because I know better. Didn’t work on me as a child and won’t work on me as an old lady. Peace……………

      • What form of Christianity promotes totalitarianism or fascism. I didn’t use the correct punctuation for a reason

    • You my friend are so sadly mistaken, in your viewpoints and beliefs so led by false propaganda, stigma, and bigotry 🙁 I won’t even bother listing them and why, as I sense, you are closed up and blind to anything but what your anger has convinced you is the only way, that God could possibly want us white people to go about leading the future of his people? Am I right?
      So little have you learned throughout your life – that I fear, it people like yourself, with eyes wide shut, that will repeat history over and over for no other reason than, you must win, you must not let the brown skins ever lead ! In the end, that IS what it boils down to, isn’t it ?
      I spend many hours praying for softening of hearts to stop the killings of our fellow man, I will include you in my prayers from now on my friend
      God bless.

      • Joe, you suggest that all leftists are obsessed with race and divide people according to race. I consider myself “on the left” and your generalization doesn’t apply to me or other people on the left I know. How many leftists have you sat down and had a conversation with? As you say you are Catholic, I’d be surprised if you and I couldn’t find common ground.
        I am not crazy about people of any skin color who put their religious beliefs ahead of their humanity, be they evangelicals, Jews, Islamists or whatever.

    • I rather expect my comment to be removed, as apparently only you Joe, gets the privileged to repeat yourself ? You seem to be very angry about this letter to Donald ? Why ? You think because he is prolife ( that’s btw only for the unborn ! ) – that makes him ritious in some way? All the while admitting his own daughter is his sex symbol ? Not false news Joe! He said this himself ! But all you Trump supporters are so quick to jump down anyone’s throats if he is even analyzed in any sort of way? Why? : because you know he won’t stand up to scrutiny that’s why ! You want him on the throne, for you own reasons, which is to blame, other skin colours, immigrants, legal and illegal for all the bad luck, all the crime,and the bad economy – because you ( us) the white people? Would have never drove out country into the mud like this, isn’t that right Joe ?
      At least call your new leader what he is ? Don’t try to keep covering up for him, it’s getting embarrassing truthfully ! The pastor here, took the kindest most empathetic approach I’ve seen, since Trump came to power, in explaining his selfish and ruthless bigotry ! What’s your issue with that? Be thankful someone tried !

      • He is only pro birth because he needed people like Joe to vote for him. Tried to have Marla abort the daughter she had with him. So he is pro birth when it’s convenient. Peace…………………..

    • Joe how can you say that The Age of Trump should not affect his preaching of the Gospel? Trump spews hatred and incites violence among his constituents? He has to keep them pumped up so is now continuing his “groupie” meetings. These meeting he needs so he can feel loved. This is what’s sad. People are hurt because of his very words. It takes a preacher to help heal the bruised hearts. I think you need to reflect within your own heart. Go back and read the Bible and see who Jesus spent his time with. He was with those same ones that Trump bullies. YOU Joe need help. Learn to love and learn to love yourself.

  4. I wish I could keep reading your blog because I often agree with your posts but I find the excessive amounts of pop-up ads and videos that start playing without my clicking to start them too distracting and annoying. I’m sorry but you do have control over this so I must unsubscribe.

  5. It is interesting that you composed a letter to Trump as a young child. Everyday I find myself writing him letters in my head. I wonder if people ever tell him the truth, or are they afraid to say anything to him that will set him off in a tirade?
    For all that we see on the outside of a self=centered egotistical man, there is a small hurt child inside. I hope he has moments of self awareness that lets him see that small child, but somehow I feel that little boy was injured beyond repair.
    I guess there are probably a lot of us that wish there was somehow to reach that small child and give him the love he deserved and still deserves in an appropriate fashion. When people say, give him a chance – I think to myself, give him a chance? He is an adult who should know how to behave and be respectful of all of us out here who want to respect our President. When people say Grow up, Donald – I think to myself, isn’t he too old to change? I guess there is a huge part of me that still believes that he can still receive the message that most of us do want to see him succeed, but we need to know that he respects us all as human beings who are sharing this time and space with him.
    We are not separated by our money, where we were born, what color our skin is, who we voted for – we are separated because of the hate that someone instilled in us at that young tender age and forgot to nurture the love that we should feel for each other as humans occupying this earth together.
    Thanks, John, for being a good father. This is how I raised my children, too. I guess there are some people out there who think that instilling these values in our young just make them weak. But I like to believe that these are the values that inevitably make a stronger society.

    • Here you are again ? Everyone is on to talking about content Joe, about scarring a child ? How it affects them as an adult etc etc
      You, are talking about race
      Still, black or white 😱😱 are you for real? Still missing the point by a mile, with your eyes wide shut as I said.

    • Here you are again ? Everyone is on to talking about content Joe, about scarring a child ? How it affects them as an adult etc etc
      You, are talking about race
      Still, black or white 😱😱 are you for real? Still missing the point by a mile, with your Inability to move past your own agenda.

    • Here you are again ? Everyone is on to talking about content Joe, about scarring a child ? How it affects them as an adult etc etc
      You, are talking about race
      Still, black or white 😱😱 are you for real? Still missing the point by a mile, with your Inability to move past your own agenda.
      Apparently I can’t post this? Saying it’s repeated on here?
      Doesn’t look like it? What’s more? Many other people have repeated or clarified their points ? So why can’t I ? Certainly Joe Catholic can rant on and on with his obvious race issues ? Repeat, repeat repeat ? I see how this works now 😡

  6. Thank you for these words; you affirm parenting and compassion. We can appreciate this trip back into our childhoods and can apply your observations to our lives today.

    As strongly as we’d wish for POTUS to have this kind of upbringing, we cannot know that he did.

    The behavior of this man, the documented and recorded behavior of POTUS is available to all who can see, read, hear. Today’s man is not an innocent boy; today’s man is an irrational, dangerous man who has the power to destroy the country, our CONSTITUTION, and the planet.

    Regardless/because of our individual upbringing, we who are able to think and appreciate your words need immediately to translate your words into action; our behavior today, if we apply values of love and compassion, would save us and our country.

    We cannot ignore, gloss over, wait and watch. We cannot be like the good citizens in Germany in the ’30s and ’40s. Kinder, Kuche und Kirche led good people to follow a murderous dictator who destroyed the press, destroyed institutions, and killed thousands.

    • So many people have joined my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff. I am delighted so many of you responded to my invitation.

      Anyone who wishes to resist, anyone who wishes to demonstrate that they are a Christian who understands what it means to love one’s neighbor as one’s self or to one love one’s neighbor as God loves us, is invited to join to stand against the evil that is in control in DC.

      In addition to accurate information and solid evidence, there are petitions, opportunities to make phone calls, to attend town meetings, protest rallies, etc.

      I strongly recommend that you read the pinned post.


    • Trump is a blessing to you not everyone- let’s face it he is attacking the free press– that is not a blessing but a harbinger of a fascist regime– looks like S. knows what he or she is talking about

      • “Citizen Trump likely wouldn’t get a security clearance. Here’s why.”

        If Donald Trump were an off-the-street federal job applicant, he most likely would not be granted a security clearance. Measured against the standards applied to thousands of Americans involved with our national security, knowledge essential to granting Trump access to classified information simply isn’t there.

        Security clearances are granted after determining that an individual’s personal and professional histories make it safe to do so. The criteria for such a judgment include, quoting State Department policy, the person’s “loyalty to the United States, strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and sound judgment, as well as freedom from conflicting allegiances and potential for coercion, and a willingness and ability to abide by regulations governing the use, handling, and protection of classified information.”

        Eligibility for access to classified information is not based on a person’s wealth, business acumen or ability to persuade large crowds. Great attributes, maybe. But they are no basis upon which to decide whether an individual ought to have access to the nation’s secrets.

        May read the remainder of the article here:

  7. Thank you John. We have spent the last 54 years telling our sons and grandsons pretty much the same thing. What matters is what kind of human being they become not the job, the money or the things. Keep telling your son, because it will pay off. I have two sons and two grandsons who are successful human beings and it has nothing to do with their careers. I used to tell them if they were lucky enough to be successful in their careers that would mean they could do more for others. So please keep posting these beautiful posts because who knows who it might touch and change. Peace…………

  8. Dear John Pavlovitz:

    Young Donald was born into privilege. By the time he was nine, he understood that the world was his oyster. His family aside, everyone around him was his inferior and existed to serve him.

    At nine years of age, your petty bourgeois values of compassion and kindness were meaningless to him. That simply isn’t the world into which bourgeois children are raised. Their rearing is more alike that of royals. They don’t meet ‘the people in your path’ because they live/walk on/in their own, social circles. At nine years of age, Donald understood that he was born to rule.

    Today’s Donald is incapable of seeing the world differently.

    And frankly John, you are no more capable of understanding the nine-year old Donald than today’s.


    • Provocative comments.

      I do believe that DJT was born into a family of privilege, and that there are and always have been profound class differences within America that we refuse to acknowledge.

      I believe that there are families that practice empathetic privilege, and those who practice disdainful privilege. The classes do walk in different circles, but some understand the responsibilities they also bear and make their circles wider. DJT grew up in a family who loathed and were loathed by the elites of Manhattan, but craved to be their betters. DJT’s father succeeded in the American tradition, but with a chip on his shoulder that crippled him, and his offspring.

      • When you mentioned those that practice empathic privilege I immediately thought of the Kennedys who have spent their lives and fortunes trying to help those “lesser” of us. What would the world look like today if all privileged people acted in such a compassionate and understanding way of those who were not born into privilege.

        • Joe Catholic…speak on the garbage in your own closet. You quickly throw stones. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Teddy also did good in this world. He fought for WIC so we would not have nutritionally deficient children. Get a grip. I believe you do all of this deliberately for attention. Hummmmm, no wonder you love Trump. You identify.

    • With all due respect, anyone’s documented behavior gives insight into both a nine-year old child and a seventy-year old adult. Had we not the ability to study and discern behavior patterns, we’d lose the ability to help, to evaluate, to make judgments about health and disease.

      So it seems to me that John Pavlovitz’s training and education in university and seminary inform his observations on parenting, on training, and on planning for children’s futures. John’s words are not tossed out from some ill-intentioned desire to demean. These words offer insight into the character and behavior of the President of the United States; the person who will apply good governance, or, who will destroy our republic.

      And saying that a boy who was “born to rule” seems to undermine any possible intellect or potential talent this boy might have. Each of the 44 previous presidents have unique backgrounds and educations. Their attaining maturity gave them different insights. Same with 45, yet in the space of less than an month, Trump’s persona has exploded on the world with his irrationality.

      His behavior is documented. It’s there to be analyzed.

      • Dear S. Lowe:

        I don’t doubt/question that John Pavolvitz’ training/education informs his parenting skills, or that he was/is a capable and caring parent. My point is that John’s life_experience/training/education are likewise informed by John’s middle class rearing experience.

        Saying that ruling class children are ‘born to rule’ is no slight; it is a ‘matter of fact’ acknowledgment of the perspective into which the children of priviledge are born and reared.

        The word ‘irrationality’ aptly describes President Trump. But you must not lose sight of the logic behind the irrationality.

        In my opinion, we are one ‘terror’ [think Reichtag Fire] event from the suspension of constitutional liberties and the establishment of an emergency state. Politically speaking, this is called a ‘coup d’etat.’

        As I see it, the Constitution is increasingly a dead letter. Mr. Trump will not be bound by it, by the rule of law or principle. As I see it, the danger of a Republic overthrown is very real and not so remote as naysayers would contend.


    • We’ve had wealthy people (and still do) who were raised or learned to use their position and resources for the common good, and who possessed common decency. (When I lived on Nantucket we used to distinguish the Old Money from the New. It was preferable to work for the Old, they had noblesse oblige.) I hate on the 1% and the Neoliberals plenty…and realize that’s a failing proposition. I could go down the hole of nature vs. nurture re Trump….but I am seeing that’s also a losing proposition. He’s cracking up and I desperately want him out of there. I’m reserving my criticism for the supposedly sane public servants around him, who are taking advantage of the power vacuum and propping him up so they can further their agenda. If you came to this party late, US politicians and corporations have not been interested in the common good or the working man for at least a generation. It’s just never been so obvious before Trump.Kudos for John attempting to understand and offer compassion to that fevered brain…even if he can be removed from office, the work will not be done.

      • Dear Valerie K:

        I have no quarrel with the values of compassion, kindness, courage, hard-work, etc. which are part of the working class ethos. But understand that these can mean very different things in privileged classes.

        Bear in mind that the upper class is as much a prisoner to the current system as are the rest of us. And while it is true that disposition does in a sense ‘matter’ among the very wealthy, there is an important sense in which it does NOT matter.

        Issues of class are NOT about disposition [to love or hate, to give or withhold, etc.] but about social relations with respect to property and production. On that count, Donald Trump spoke very aptly when he said that the system is ‘gamed.’

        But it is ‘gamed’ entirely toward the bourgeois [upper/ruling] class, and AGAINST the working class.


      • Dear Valarie K:

        I expect that you caught this, but for anyone else, I wanted to clarify that my statement:

        ‘Bear in mind that the upper class is as much a prisoner to the current system as are the rest of us’

        …replies to ‘hating on the 1%.’ Class hatred accomplishes less than nothing. It distracts from the real issue of material [property/productive] relations. The privilege of the wealthy is not to be envied even if it must be ended.


    • True, about his background !
      But I still think John has an excellent point though ? I do not care how much money you have? You can still instill a moral compass within your children ? That Donald’s parents chose not to do so? Is another story – that’s a choice , which has nothing to do with their bank account ! I come from a small country, where our royalty means everything and we celebrate them still. They live in luxury and have little to do, but to show up and be diplomats at events and converse in beautiful outfits dripping in jewels ! I can tell you, that this generation ( the most unruly so far in history ) still are told how they are not all that – that they must appear humble at all times, that is what their grandfather instilled in all his children after he saw the kind of narcissistic memebers of royalty was sitting at his table !
      And they have kept that rule up ever since ,and they are amount and with the people, they are not looking down on them with hate and arrogance like a certain leader in the White House ! So I still say, parents doing !

  9. When your father tells you not to turn the other cheek, but to hit back harder, you learn that for every winner in life, there must be a loser. There is no possibility for two winners, as so often happens when forbearance and compassion are present.

    When your father tells you so much that is a reflection of his own pain, and no one is there to bear witness to a greater truth, you learn only his pain.

    When your father sees you only as a reflection of who he wants to be, you learn that you are, at the core, unworthy, and waste your life seeking recognition that means nothing.

    When you multiply your sad history by millions, you have so much of America today.

    • Ah, but explain then how someone with a terrible childhood can grow up to be a truly wonderful human being. We can overcome our history if we work at it. This is not about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, either. That is economical this is character. There are a lot of us that had awful childhoods with bad people and we did not turn out to be a greedy, narcissistic, ad nauseum. I know……………… He does not get a pass because of what his father did. This is on him. Peace,

      • My father tried hard to teach all three of his kids to be racist bigots. He succeeded with his sons but not his daughter.

        My father lived in fear that he was “less than.” As a true product of the Great Depression, he suffered not having enough to eat and scraping to get buy.

        He used to tell a story that was an experience that broke his heart. When he was old enough (he was born in 1923 and his father thought him old enough at seven) he and his father would sell bags of hot chestnuts outside Baker Rink at Princeton University. They’d sell them to the privileged Princeton University students, faculty, townies who could afford the luxury of tickets.

        Sometimes, the security guard let my father into the Rink and allowed him to watch the third and final period of the game. That experience, in particular, taught my father to believe he was lacking as a human being and in worth and value.

        In order to make himself feel better about himself, he was an abuser, a bigot, a bully, a racist, an adulterer, and eventually addicted to gambling. In fact finding out that my Roman Catholic father would boast to his sixteen-year-old daughter that he cheated on her mother was the last straw to my already flimsy relationship with the RCC and the knowledge that I would never be anything but a second-class citizen in that church.

        I could have chosen to be molded in my father’s image or I could have chosen a different path. I obviously chose the latter.

      • No question that it’s on him, but we must be mindful of where we start down such destructive paths. I’ve worked with many people with basically good motivations but crappy foundations. It takes those folks a lot longer to climb over the wall of those foundations. Some never do. In the Donald’s case, I do suspect deep personality disorders at work, particularly narcissism (and yes, I’ve had direct experience with such folks). Such folks have profound empathy deficits and aren’t moveable by shame. Thus I have some difficulty in expecting the same level of awareness of personal responsibility out of DJT as a would a less disordered person.

        Now if I were to point the howling finger of shame at anyone, it would be the Machiavellian sycophants working in the darkness of the West Wing and Congress to destroy our society by taking advantage of his cluelessness. Democracy is very fragile and depends ultimately on the desire of well-intentioned people to represent us, and well-intentioned voters to elect them and remain engaged in the governance process.

        The finger ultimately points back at…us.

        • I agree with you, I only wanted to point that in the end it is on us. I believe in looking at his life and history that the man has serious personality disorders, but I refuse to let him off the hook. I know all about climbing that wall, been there, done that, and I was fortunate because I was white so I was aware the wall was easier for me than others. I think that the people who are in the darkness with their plots are probably worse. That is my opinion………….

  10. Dear John,

    First of all, what loving, tender words. What a loving tender father you must be. I wish with all my heart someone had loved the child DJT was as you love your children.

    I also wish with all my heart that my parents had been able to tell me these things when I was in their care. I staggered around a good deal of my life before I finally learned them.

    I read a book that meant so much to me I carried it around in my purse every day for six months as if I were a toddler toting my lovie blankie. The book is Strong at the Borken Places by Linda T. Sanford.

  11. When I was your son’s age- I got attacked by my “christian” mormon peer group for being the sissy- queer- homo- fag- because I’m an artist and I didn’t care about competitive sports and I just didn’t appear to be masculine enough for everybody. So your “christianity” failed me miserably. Later in life my father made sure I knew just how much he despised me. So really John- treat your son well. Donald is a product of his upbringing- and you can’t save him. Nobody can. But guaranteed- I’ll be laughing at all you silly christians who think you are right- when you realize you’ve been conned and your reality tanks and no elected repub creep gives a $hit about your problems- especially if you are still supporting your a$$hole-in-chief.

    • That is why I refuse to use the label of christian. Being artsy fartsy myself as well as all the men in the family when I was growing up I have never understood this male bullying. So please know that there are lot of followers of Jesus who are sad with the way you and anyone else who is slightly different was treated by people claiming the christian moniker. We also don’t support the present administration. Peace…………..

    • I am not a religious person, but I do beleive that everyone has the right to have religious beliefs and that they should respected. Especially when it is someone who practices empathy and compassion for others as John does. Please do disrespect someone just because they have religious beliefs.
      I too have a problem with so-called Christians who only hate and denigrate others. Unfortunaltely my sister is one of those. It makes it very hard to have a meaningful relationship with her. But I still love her and continue to hope that she will someday find the true meaning of Jesus’ teachings and not the Alt-Right version.

  12. If you can show your son such affirming love, John, he will be a fortunate man. Some part of the world will be better for his having been in it. I don’t know what turned Donald Trump into such a sad, petty, grasping little man, when the money he inherited could have given him the opportunity to do so much good for other people, but I pity him for his lost opportunities. I hope your son accepts your love and kindness and gives it to others throughout his life.

    • How I wish I could go back in time. I would have longed for a father like you. Your children will realize how lucky they are when they reach adulthood if they don’t already.

      I was beaten, degraded, humiliated, scorned and ridiculed. How could a grown man plunge his fist into a little girl?

      My own children were raised with the love that you so eloquently expressed and whenever they entered a room that I was in, they were met with a smile.

      If trump is a kind and decent man, he has never shown it in public and he should. It’s past time.

  13. I have a child who is similar in many ways, although not on such a grand scale. Her father has that kind of personality, so I suspect it was inherited. She went off the rails in adolescence and compounded the problem by becoming an addict. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard I fought for her, and how craftily, avoiding opposing her the whole time.

    I noticed that Trump went to a military school (the one in my town, in fact), and a military academy tends to be a place people send their out-of-control kids. In my daughter’s case, I was too scared for her to send her out of my sight like that, but had I taken that option, my daily life would have been more peaceful.

    In the end I think it made no difference. As for Trump, yes, he is a mess. And he’s older, so his situation has had plenty of time to get worse. Were his parents kind and supportive? I don’t know, but I’ve seen plenty of decent people spring from perfectly horrible upbringings. We can’ t assume a connection, strange as that may sound. (The Minnesota twins study was the first place I ever saw the notion that genetics dominate over environment, and I was horrified.)

    But you are correct, I think, that he is not a happy person. I pray for my daughter without a lot of hope; a friend told me we need to pray for Trump and she’s right, but that is proving hard for me.

    • There is a genetic component to both personality and temperament. Both genes and environment play a role in forming who we area. Why would genes for Ted Bundy types and Donald Trump types not be missing from our gene pool now because of natural selection? One very good reason. Sometimes human cultures and societies find themselves in difficult pickles and intractable conditions that require such people. Sadaam Hussein is a perfect example. As we have discovered over the past 15 years to our deep regret, a country with three factions that hate each other and want to genocide the other out of existence, the only person who can hold a country like that together and make the trains run on time is one of the meanest SOBs that ever lived. In other words, people like him CAN BE highly adaptive.

      Trump though is just plain nuts. The families of the 19th century robber baron’s used to gather at their estates in Newport, RI to pass the summer days away playing and partying. One high-level member of one robber baron family went quietly insane and honestly believed himself to be the Prince of Wales. Unable to do anything about it because no clinical psychology (per se) existed and not wishing to institutionalize her husband in an insane asylum of horrors, his wife played along with the insanity. She held parties at their huge Newport mansion, guests would come over in droves, the insane man would be dressed in reproductions of British royal clothing. Male party guests would bow in his presence. Female guests would curtsy. Everyone just played along rather than rock the boat and hurt their friends’ feelings. This is real American history folks—it happened.

      In my opinion, a version of this is going on in The White House right now with Trump. I think Trump had severe mental health problems (undiagnosed and untreated) before becoming President; the stress of being President is making them worse; and we have a problem President who is detached from reality and well on his way to going insane. This is why The White House is in disarray. This is why Trumps new hires go to meetings with leaders in Europe and present policy positions that are known to be different from those of Trump—as Mattis and Tillerson did yesterday and today.
      Effectively, Mr. Trump has become the Prince of Wales, and the White House is Buckingham Palace. Mar Alago is the royal retreat at Sandringham. Those around him in his family and at The White House play along to the extent they can. The Republican Congress plays along because they hope even an insane Trump can be a useful dupe for them. The people he has hired for Department of Defense and Secretary of State ignore Trump’s ravings when they are in the field and make policy that is really in opposition to what Trump wants to do.

      The Prince of Wales occupies The White House folks. This would be a golden opportunity for Russia to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States because we have an Executive Branch in such disarray that any American response we might put up would be confused, way too slow, and feeble at best. I am just wondering if Putin recognizes the opportunity he has and whether he will be brave enough to act on it.

  14. Imagine instead of this being a letter to a Young Donald, it was to any number of Young Reporters, beseeching them to simply be nice, polite and not wake up in the morning seeking a fight with this Administration?

    “Oh look, The Donald screwed up … AGAIN … but, you know, maybe I’ll just let it slide today and not be confrontational. Is he lying? Most likely. Is this ‘fake news’? Probably not. Still … let’s give the nation a rest for one day … and be polite and forgive … for just one day. ”

    Yes. Please, Young Reporter, Young Blogger, Young Media Personality, don’t feed the fires for just one day. When you feel the desire to lash out at what you to feel as an injustice … stop … for one day.

    Make half this country believe you AREN’T out to destroy our President who we elected. Perhaps if you do this, our President will start to think you aren’t out to destroy him. Perhaps, if you take one day off you will realize that by constantly trying to destroy the President you have lost credibility with far too many people to keep our democracy safe.

    Dear Young Reporter … for just one day …

    • James, I can only go by what I see and feel in my heart. Donald Trump is who he is because of the media. He has been in numerous Magazines. He brags about that . He has been on TV shows. He brags about that. He has given many radio interviews. We can go back and read and hear and see the proof.

      He made his name as a wealthy playboy, a successful businessman. He is a successful businessman yet others younger than him have created more wealth in a shorter amount of time. Who has used the media more than him. Not too many. He is not the richest man in the world nor is he the richest man in America. He is not known for his philanthropy like the Facebook guy or the Microsoft guy.

      He was news before the campaign partly because of the birther thing which he kept repeating. He needs an audience. He needs attention. In the beginning the media gave him more press just by repeating everything he said and did. That is their job. When he came to the campaign, Republicans were saying the same things about him that people are saying now. This is not new stuff.

      He made the media the enemy. He made Hillary with the help of Republicans the enemy. He made Obama with the help of Republicans the enemy. He made all who did not adore him who did not vote for him the enemy. He made the intelligence community the enemy. None of this chaos would be happening if it was any other Republican. He needs someone to be the enemy because he has nothing else. Just my humble opinion. No pity for someone who, to me, is dangerous, and enjoys crapping on every norm. People wanted different.
      Well he certainly is that.

      Republicans are afraid. Why? They are in charge. Every policy they want is coming down the pike. Why would they want him to be their face? They certainly saw what he was during the campaign and had no problem saying so.

      Question: When do you think American was great James?

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