02/21/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Change You've Already Started

A few weeks ago, some people wrote letters to President-Elect Obama and shared them with each other. I was intrigued.

What could anyone possibly write that wouldn't turn into a diatribe of all the things that are painfully wrong right now and need desperately to be fixed? The economy. The War in Iraq. Health care. The environment. Just to name a few.

Then I read this letter, which made me realize that the tremendous journey from here to there, past to future, right to wrong, begins with each of us. And it begs the question: What would your letter to Obama say?

Dear President O,

I hope you'll forgive the familiarity, but you are my President. First of all, let me congratulate you on your inspiring campaign and election as President of the United States of America. To sum it up, it was truly masterful. I've wanted to write this letter to you for quite some time now, but have been deliberate in my thinking about what I want to say. Somehow I know that this is the medium that will provide the best chance for this letter and all the letters in this Hub to be read by you. After all, you did use all the avenues available, specifically technological tools, to get your message out and people of all ages engaged. So I'm sure if Tokoni is not already on your radar, it soon will be. The letters here before mine have some heartfelt and excellent suggestions and comments for you.

You know, as we all do, that people are hurting out here. It's heartbreaking and brings me to tears. But you've said you would listen to all points of view and I believe you. I have my opinions and points of view for you that someday I'll get to, but that's not the intent of this letter. What I want to convey is not what you can do for America, but what you've already done for me.

It's just under a month to go before your inauguration. But on a personal note, I've had my fill of the President-Elect title. Your assertion that we only have one President at a time is correct. However, since our current President seems to have vanished from the post, I don't see any reason not to refer to you as just plain old President. You are my President. But I have to confess, I didn't vote for you. I know, I know ... it's disappointing. But you did say that for those that didn't vote for you, you are still our President too. Now here's where the monkey wrench comes in and is the beginning of what you've already done for me.

You see, I didn't vote at all. As a matter of fact, I've never voted in all the years I've been in America. I came here at a young age and got naturalized in my teens, so I am an American citizen with the right to exercise my vote. But I've never even registered to vote. I know there are many people out there that find this ghastly. I've discussed it with many. I know the arguments they present. It's a duty, it's a right, it's a responsibility, it's un-American not to. I have counter-arguments to each, especially that last one, but expounding on each is not necessary here. In my earlier years, I paid relatively close attention to American politics. To put it simply, I was disgusted. Politics as usual, as you've noted many times in your speeches and debates. There have been many years of my life that I've paid no attention to American politics. The choices weren't really choices, just the lesser of two evils. Republicans and Democrats were different sides of the same coin. Occasionally you'd get the idealist in Congress or a governor or mayor somewhere, but they would quickly disappear from the public eye. They were swallowed up in the murky abyss of the old boy network, lobbyists and special interest groups. It was disheartening to me. I felt for a long time that I did not make a difference in trying to effect change.

Fast forward to 2008. In the months leading up to the election, you piqued my interest. You made me pay attention. Not just to you, but to John McCain as well. I have no party affiliation so I can comfortably say that I like McCain on the whole. His heart is in the right place even if his vision may be slightly off-kilter. And it's you that got me to thinking with a freer and clearer mind. To listen. Not just to the people you agree with, but to those that you don't necessarily see eye to eye with, too. It's well documented that you're an eloquent speaker. Perhaps you don't yet fully realize the effect of your words and ideals. We grow up hearing how our words and actions can have the most profound influence when we don't even realize it. It's true. I'm a prime example. I almost registered to vote a week before the deadline. You better believe that I'll be registered for the next election.

Your words, your vision and your ideals have had a profound impact on me. They've changed me. For the first time in my life, I believe that things can change in this country. I believe that we have someone going into the White House that has a vested interest in my well-being and my ideals, in America and in the world. We're on the same page, dude. That's just so awesome to me. I've looked at just about every speech or interview you've given over the year. I've never done that for any politician. I thought your Father's Day speech was amazing. I'm not a father, but I am an uncle, and I do know a lot about absentee fathers. It made me really think about the influence I can have in my nieces' and nephews' lives. Actually, it made me really think about the impact I have on everyone's lives that I touch.

Your words move me. For once, I'm beginning to believe that a politician actually gets it. That you understand us, what we want, what we need. And that your line of sight extends beyond the borders of America. This is very important to me. We don't only live in America anymore. In the late 1990s and the first part of this millennium, we have moved into a bigger house called "The World" -- for the first time in history. It's a concept that is slow to be embraced, but it's not a matter of "if" anymore. It's here, it's now.

Here's one more thing you've had a hand in changing about me. I haven't always been proud to be an American. I get a lot of flack for that. I'll get a lot more for writing it here. I understand where it comes from. But I always wonder how anyone can be proud of a nation that ignores its homeless, poor and underprivileged. A nation that does not place the well being of all children as a top priority. A nation that has the technology, means and wherewithal to provide excellent health care, education and world leadership... but doesn't. A nation where racism, gender inequality, homophobia and general discrimination to difference still runs rampant. A nation that uses a disproportionate amount of natural resources but refuses to cooperate the world to help fix the very in-our-face environmental problems. A nation that has appointed itself as judge, jury and executioner of anyone who is not in line with our beliefs. I can hear the comment now, "Go back to where you came from then." It further illustrates my point, because unless you're Native American, didn't we all ultimately come from somewhere other than America? We're not the only nation with problems. But we're well behind other nations in so many areas. But now, having you on the doorsteps to the leadership of this country, I am proud again to be an American. I can honestly say that now I believe this country will have great leadership to address some of these issues. It will be far from easy as you've already acknowledged. But I believe in you as do so many of the citizens and people of this country, and indeed this world. You know we'll be watching to see you succeed as others will be chomping at the bit to see you fail. And in the same vein, as Westtexas8 has already offered, I am here to do my part. Tell me what you need... I'm here to help us all succeed. There is great value in making this country great again. It has so much impact on how great the world can be.

And on a final note, I would recommend one thing to you. Fish out that poll that I know your staff has somewhere of what the world would have done if they had a hand in these elections. Remember that one? I believe one of the polls showed that if the world got to vote in our election, you wouldn't have won by a landslide, you would have won by an avalanche. Think about that for more than a moment. It's not only Americans that have faith and belief in you. No doubt there is a huge margin for failure, but on the flip side, there is a mammoth return on succeeding.

Thank you for impacting my life in such a positive way.

Best wishes and much success,

Read more Letters to Obama on Tokoni.