Dear Mr. Bush,

I watched you on the Colbert Show yesterday. Not much has changed since high school. You are still the same, affable person you were then but now, you’re grown, with teenage daughters and a wife to honor and to serve. You and I weren’t friends in high school but we were friendly. As you may or may not recall, you walked in on me and some friends in the middle of a strip poker game (in the boy’s dorm, in the middle of the night) and you had the good sense to laugh and, to walk out of the room as quickly as you’d come. That was a good move on your part.

Recently, you’ve made an even better move and by degrees of separation, it also involves me or more closely, my thoughts on integrity. You see, I’ve been writing about this very subject through my character Patience truLove. She is a young woman discovering what it means to live in integrity, through her body, her mind, and her emotional wherewithal. I’d like to think that Patience is a little bit of every woman. We are all connected by how we answer to the inner voice inside that suggests we always know right, from wrong. This voice is dimmed by the external forces of society and by our own choices not to listen. Critical to the voice of integrity are the lessons we learn. Hopefully, one by one, little by little, we learn to be better, to do better and to help others to do the same. In my mind, this is the essence of integrity.

Billy, I sincerely applaud your listening to your own voice of integrity. In a time where the public dialogue surrounding truth is degraded daily by our nation’s leader, you choose to speak up. You choose to be a man in a country where childish behavior is referred to as “leadership”. Your work is brave and authentic. I appreciate it’s taken a lot of soul-searching to arrive where you are now. The voice of integrity is oftentimes inconvenient and almost all the time, difficult work.

In my first book, Underpinnings(books 2 & 3 coming in the spring), a young woman is compelled to respond to her own inner voice. It’s with her all along but at first, she does what she ignores it, even though, she knows it’s a poor decision. She wants what she wants and for a time, she disregards how she and others are adversely affected by her decision. As there often is for us, the day of reckoning shows up when she least expects it. She thought she’d covered all her bases. But we never really do, when we’re disregarding the voice of integrity.

Billy, your coming forward in truth helps our country swim to the surface of integrity. It will take one uncomfortable dialogue at a time, one op-ed at a time, for the rest of us to rise with you. We need real leadership with people who aren’t afraid to speak honestly. As my father says, “a rising tide floats all ships” and hopefully this tide will be one of truth and courage.

All my best,