Dear President Trump,
I attend a Quaker school where Quaker values and ideas such as simplicity, silence, integrity, and community are infused into our daily lives. These ideas were established by George Fox in the 1600s, and adopted and implemented by the founder of our state of Pennsylvania and Penn Charter itself, William Penn.
I would like to share with you two quotes that I find inspiring and empowering. The first was written by William Penn, and is currently our school motto: “Good instruction is better than riches.” This quote truly resonates with me as a student at a Quaker school and a daughter of two parents who deeply value education and an awareness of the outside world. Both my school and family strongly emphasize and reiterate the idea that a good education is far more useful and important than wealth. Therefore, Mr. President, I urge you to look past your empire of business and riches, and ask yourself this question: Has my existence and importance as a human being emanated and developed from money, or good education and bettering of the mind? If your answer is “good education,” I implore you to keep informing yourself by reading and surrounding yourself with professionals from their respective fields of study. From foreign policy to economics, immigration to universal education, there is always more to know—I believe you and this county could benefit from a better understanding of said issues. If your answer is, “Yes, my existence as a human being has developed from the importance of money,” I say: focus not on personal gain and profit, but on intellectual and emotional strength. Being informed and mentally strong, I believe, will truly allow our country to prosper and become “great again” (however, in my opinion, the country already is strong and “great”).
The second quote I would like to share with you was said and taught by George Fox: “that of God in everyone.” In other words, there is good in everyone, and no one is superior to another—no matter race, gender, faith, orientation, or status. Whether you are Islamic or Christian, black or white, we all have one characteristic in common—we are human beings. Thus all people are equal and should be given equal opportunity to express themselves.
These quotes are two examples of Quaker teachings that I ask you to process and consider when leading our country. All that said, I have a few pieces of final advice for you: Be kind. Build bridges, not walls. Rather than tearing others down, build others up. And remember, love always trumps hate.
Brinlea La Barge, Grade 10, William Penn Charter School
(Editor’s note: The online version of this letter differs from the print version with the addition of text in the second paragraph, beginning with “If your answer is ‘good education,’ I implore you …” which was cut due to space constraints.)