Dear Angela Merkel,
Thank you for leading our country these last sixteen years. I’ve admired your poise, your steadfast leadership, your resolve and courage, and the balance you brought to each difficult situation. While I by no means agreed with you or your party on numerous issues, I nevertheless am grateful to have lived in this world as a German citizen during the time of your chancellorship.
You’ve been a strong role model for us young Germans to look up to. You embody your values, live them out with charisma, and stand for what you believe in. Earlier this year, when you apologized to the entire country for a blunder on the part of your administration, I tried to remember ever seeing a world leader ask for forgiveness in such an unequivocal and humble manner. I came up short. It takes a great person to admit their mistakes and that humility is one reason that we trust you. It is easy to see that in everything you always put the good of others, the good of the people (German or not) above your own desires and aspirations. You have in many ways redefined the qualities we look for in a chancellor now, and you’ve left some very big shoes behind.
When looking at the world stage, it is easy to find so-called leaders that believe power and strength are the sources of their leadership and that they can only lead through bluster and bullying. Your approach of finding nuanced balance and carefully brokered compromise while standing firm on your values is an inspiration. Through some very difficult crises, you showed that collaborating with those that we might disagree with is always the better strategy over storming off in a huff, casting blame, or getting our way through might. We must all get better at not only acknowledging but also accepting the differences and differing viewpoints of others and finding solutions across those divides, rather than erecting walls or barriers. You’ve shown that this is possible on the large stage of world politics.
I’ve never been more proud to be German than in 2015. We younger Germans have grown up learning about the brutal history of our country, have seen the films, the concentration camps, the yearly memorial services and it is not always easy to find the right balance between knowing the atrocities committed in the past and finding value in our culture today. Germany stands for something different now, a place of opportunity, a land that strives to uphold everyone’s dignity no matter their origin. The way you handled the refugee crisis in 2015 will always stand out as the greatest moment of your leadership; you broke ranks with many in your own party because you knew that in this instance, something more important was at stake. It was your compassionate, warm-hearted embrace of those in direst need that showed the world that Germany is and always should be a welcoming country. I’ve rarely been so moved as watching ordinary German citizens cheerfully welcoming and embracing those who had been forced to leave everything behind. That’s what we should be known for; thank you for making that way possible.
My sincerest gratitude on your many years of service to our country. You’ve helped to reconcile me to being German, you’ve provided a strong model of leadership that others can emulate, and you’ve given us hope that change for the better is possible.
A Grateful German