“Don’t say mean things” is a parable that most children learn from a very young age. This simple concept helps them to form better relationships, fosters positive social interactions, and makes them all around better people. After all, no one likes a bully.
In the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, however, a group of school children were asked what they thought of President Donald Trump’s victory. While opponents criticize his language and tactics, these kids responded by petitioning their president to lead by example, and sent some kind-hearted words to President Trump, urging him to “not say mean things”…
There is no doubt that the 2016 election was a bitter race indeed. The two main candidates shared the spotlight by highlighting their competitor’s faults and homing in on the hate for the opposition that many felt. The end of the race only brought even more vitriol into America’s homes.
While Facebook and Twitter feeds lit up like the Fourth of July at the end of the race, it was America’s children and not just the politically-aware, who began to take note of the state of their nation and the type of man that was soon to be sworn in as President of the United States. Parents across the nation became understandably concerned…
Molly Spence Sahebjami wanted to allay the fears and concerns of America’s kids and their parents. The Seattle mother was anxious to ensure that Trump’s administration was led by a man who understood the value of being kind to other people, rather than have him end up the hate-filled tyrant that had ingratiated himself to the hateful in America.
Molly’s own son, a kindergarten student, was the first to write a letter. He was concerned about the things Trump had said about Muslims, mainly because his family had Iranian relatives and he was worried something might happen to them now that Trump was the leader of the U.S. So she suggested to him that he write Trump a letter, telling him why it’s important to be kind…
Molly’s home state of Oregon was one several where voters overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton. Many of her friends and neighbors disapproved of Trump’s vulgar language and were in support of her efforts to help the president to improve the way he was seen by the world at large. Most of her friends’ kids, only knew Trump as “the mean one”.
Her son’s letter read: “Dear President-elect Trump, please be a good president. Be kind to all people. Some people in my family are a special religion and they are not bad guys.” It was a simple yet profound message of love from the mouth of an innocent child. She posted the letter online in a private group and her friends soon took notice…
Molly started a Facebook group called “Dear President Trump: Letters from Kids About Kindness.” The purpose of this group was to have children write letters to the President-elect about the importance of being kind to other people, even those who are different. It was a tall order of course, but it soon gained a following.
Molly and her friends saw this experiment as an opportunity to both teach children how to be articulate, productive communicators and to get the president to face his angry impulses in the face of public scrutiny. She wanted this grass-roots style movement to be a place to turn the divisive election into a teachable moment. The letters flew in…
The original Facebook group began with Molly inviting about 200 friends, many of whom had very different political leanings. Yet, within days, hundreds of people had joined. A week after the 2016 election, the group had nearly 9,000 members: and counting. who have many different political leanings. Within days, hundreds more people had joined.
The rules were simple: Letters must be written by children under 18, should be positive and entirely nonpartisan, and of course, had to be kind in tone. Molly wanted kids to be able to articulate how this issue was important to them personally, just as it had been for her son. She created a hashtag and the letters were soon posted all over the internet….
Ne’er Do Wells
Molly and the moms originally wanted to make it a closed group, in an effort to protect the children. Because of this, she has had the pleasure of denying two admitted Neo-Nazis membership. Hate, in any capacity, is not welcome on the website of course, but people of all parties are welcome to participate in discourse as long as it’s kind.
There were many letters written to the President, some of which were only a few words and were rife with adorable misspellings: “DEAR MR TRUMP Be kind please FROM A Littel Boy TOMMY,” read one. The text for Tommy’s letter was underneath a drawing of a rainbow. Many were of the same level of cuteness and all contained positive messages of kindness…
Hire Me, Trump
Another young girl named Szaba even offered to serve as an adviser to Trump during his upcoming administration, saying: “Dear Mr. President, be nice to things. Do not say mean things. This helps me calm down: meditation, reading and resting. Good luck with your new job! Let me know if I can help.”
The would-be advisor’s mother, Angela Hylland, thanked Molly for organizing the group by explaining how it was an ideal outlet for their family. She explained that her daughter had been buzzing with eagerness to get more involved in her community since the election letters. She took the letter very seriously. And she wasn’t the only one…
Seven-year-old Kela drew up a 12-point checklist for President Trump, titled “How to be nice!” It read: To Mr. Trump, How to be nice! Say kind things like well done, Don’t blame other people when it is you doing the bad thing, Don’t lie, Don’t scream at people, Behave, Don’t hurt people, and several more. It ended on a happy “Being different is COOL!!!” note.
Other children went as far as to reference promises Trump had made during his campaign. Specifically deporting undocumented immigrants. One letter read: “Dear Mr. Trump, Kids in my class are very scared. Please don’t kick them out. In my school, we get sent to the wall when we’re in trouble. My friends did not do anything wrong. Don’t send them to the wall. Love, Abby age 6.” Still, others referenced Trump’s wall…
Henry wrote to the president about his plans to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, saying: “Dear Mr. Trump I won an award at school for kindness and respect. I think you should be kind and do not!! build a wall between Mexico and America. Because we have friends there. Please be kind. Sincerely Henry.”
Jason of Chicago
Jason of Chicago wrote a letter to Trump imploring him to be kind to all people regardless of their religion. He also explained that he has friends who are gay, lesbian, black and Hispanic and that he wants them to be safe in Trump’s America. It was letters like these that helped to drive home what Molly was trying to accomplish in the first place….
Read them Together
Molly made certain to repeatedly remind people to keep all letters positive. She also told them all to mail their letters to Trump Tower in New York City. It was her hope that the president-elect and his wife, Melania might read them together.
Hope Still High
Deep down, Molly believes that the bags of children’s letters may resonate with Trump, who himself is a grandfather and a father of a 10-year-old. She hopes that the letters reach him and that he and those in his administration are affected in some positive way by the kindness and goodwill of the American people.