Award-winning author, artist, musician, naturalist, wilderness guide: Douglas Wood, a Minnesotan, reflects in the essay below on his role during these chaotic times. Wood has written 35 books for children and adults. He has read his books, narrated, and performed at the White House, in New York's Lincoln Center and other venues around the country, and he leads far-flung wilderness expeditions. He lives with his family in a log cabin in the pines beside the Mississippi River. See more about this busy, creative man by clicking here.
"I Have a Special Responsibility--And So Do You"
I am just a private citizen who writes books for children. But because our president has uttered yet another foul, degrading, racist comment from the oval office, allowing that we don't want any dark-skinned people coming here from sh--hole countries, I have a special responsibility
Because our president says there are many fine people in the white supremacist movement, I have a special responsibility.
Because he says we don't want people from Africa or Haitti, but instead more people from places like Norway, I have a special responsibility.
Because he has forgotten, never read, or never believed the words, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door," then I have a responsibility.
Because he says a judge of Mexican heritage cannot do his job, that most Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers; because he claimed for years that a black president could not possibly be legitimate, must not have been born here, or graduated from college; that the Central Park Five--found innocent--should still be executed; because he doesn't think Puerto Rico is part of the United States or deserves our help; because he cannot open his mouth or twiddle his thumbs without embarrassing and coarsening our country with profanity and stupidity; because he in no way sees the presidency of the United States as an office of moral leadership; because his entire existence is predicated on personal aggrandizement and enrichment; because he cares nothing for the effect his words and behavior have on impressionable children and the next generation; and because he so very clearly feels NO sense of responsibility to anyone or anything else--including the country he took a solemn oath to serve, I then have a special responsibility.
And so do you. And so does every citizen of this nation. We have a responsibility to see clearly. Beyond party or personal enrichment. Beyond narrow advantage. We have a responsibility to think. To acknowledge reality. To stand for the decency and common humanity this man so clearly ignores or despises. And to speak out. Again and again, in whatever forum we can. Or else it stands. His words and actions stand. The debasement of our country stands.
I have lost and will lose friends, business, financial opportunities, the warmth of family, from speaking out; from words I decided to express publicly in this space. And elsewhere. But I do not regret one of them. Because I thought them through carefully and felt the need of them to express a truth that needed to be said. And because as an American, I have a responsibility.
And so do you. And so do we all share in the same responsibility. Because this is not OK. Not anywhere on Earth. And especially not in the United States of America.