Grace for Bristol Palin

December 29th, 2015

Dear Bristol Palin:

A wave of sympathy rolled through my body as I read this provocative headline: “Abstinence-only advocate Bristol Palin gives birth to 2nd out-of-wedlock child.” No baby deserves to be labeled like this as it comes into this world.

Labeling you may be fair — more on that in a moment — but labeling your baby is not. Though I am part of the so-called “lame-stream media” as your mother describes us, I still feel it was unfair to label your newborn Sailor Grace that way. I am sorry that happened.

As for labeling you, well, as Jesus once said: “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her. (John 8:7 NET).”  I’m betting none of us in the media or the general public qualify.

From what I’ve seen, we all struggle to reconcile belief with action. And from what I’ve seen, most of us fail many more times than we succeed.

Politicians like your mom are fair game. So are many other appointed leaders. But you, in my opinion, are still young at 25 and deserve some compassion as you navigate life’s choices — especially since you had to finish growing up in the glare of a spotlight that you didn’t seek.

I also suspect — though you may not agree — that you are a target for some not just because of your politics but because you are a young woman. And we in the media — liberal and conservative — can be ruthlessly, mercilessly scrutinizing of famous females.  

Ask President Barack Obama’s daughters. Or former President Bush’s daughters. Or the daughters of former Presidents Clinton and Carter.

Ask presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s daughters. 

So regardless of what we say or write about you, don’t give our criticisms or praise more consideration than they are due. (And that includes this open letter to you. Value it or not as you see fit.)

And just so you know, I’m a liberal independent, not a conservative Republican. I didn’t vote for John McCain and your mom in 2008, and have been critical of both in my work as a commentator and columnist.

It’s also not likely that you and I would agree on politics, based on what I’ve read about your views. But political differences don’t change the fact that you are a young woman as deserving of grace and compassion as any of us.

Yes, we all should challenge ourselves to be the best we can be — and be accountable when we aren’t — but we also must allow ourselves time and space to grow, especially when we are young. Self-improvement is a lifetime process.

So be gentle with yourself. Live your life. Be a great mom. Raise your two beautiful children. Ignore the hyped-up headlines. Eventually, we in the media will move on to something else.

Meanwhile, Sailor Grace and Tripp will continue to be the gifts to you God intended them to be. And that will always matter more than any headlines, good or bad.


David Person

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