Dear Sons; Here's What You Need To Know About The World Pt. 1
I’m nervously watching highlights on the news as you play beside me happily on the couch. Last night there was a presidential debate in America; not our country, but one that affects us greatly nonetheless. Between clips of the debate, I’m seeing news stories about black people needlessly dying and a whole lot of other sad, terrible things happening in our world. In moments like these, I never know where to begin. The issues we are facing are heart wrenching and dumbfounding all in one breath. I can’t imagine that this is our reality and I sure as hell hope that this is not our future. It can be overwhelming to think on these intricate and delicate issues. However, I never want you to be without hope; I want you to always remember a few important things that can impact your life and the lives of those around you in a huge way.
Look people in the eye when you walk down the street. Keep that beautiful quality you have of noticing the small things; point them out, talk about them. Seeing people is half the battle; acknowledge their existence in the world and know that the whole universe would change if they weren’t here. Every soul, every living thing is here for a reason. The same goes for you too, my dear boys. With your first breath you changed the dynamic of this world. Even if you are sitting in a room, not moving or speaking, you are affecting everything around you. You must own your place; playing small is not your destiny. Be fully and unabashedly you. If you witness injustice, stand up; speak your truth. The more often you speak your truth, the louder you get about it, the stronger it becomes. Even when you have lost your way, when you have messed up and feel unknown; your truth is with you. Truth never leaves you, it is always beating steadily just under the surface. The trick is to find a place that cancels out the noise so you can hear it. My place is the ocean; the water has a way of washing away anything that has clouded or muffled my truth.
Remain curious at all times. Ask questions and choose to be fascinated by the world around you. Every person you come across is a whole world unopened to you. The art of listening is one of the greatest skill sets you will ever learn (actually, your dad should probably teach you this one, as I really suck at it). Everyone and everything desires to be heard; to be known. Listen to the story of the strange, smelly man stumbling down the street with the same partiality that you would a successful, charismatic businessman. Furthermore, while you listen, try and remember that you are listening through the filter of a white, middle-class boy who grew up in a free, strong country. Because of this, your life comes with so much less complication and hardship. I’m not trying to diminish your struggles; but dear son, you need to understand - you need to know deep down within yourself that this was pure luck. You are where you are today because a lot of people before you sacrificed, and a lot of people were devastatingly mistreated (to put it mildly). There is no need to feel ashamed about your privilege as long as you use it for good. Share your wealth, share your knowledge - nothing is yours to keep.
Prejudice, racism - it isn’t always glaring and loud. Most times, it is the quietest form of these mindsets that cause the most harm. Ugliness in your heart can linger on for generations. This very fact is what frightens me the most about parenting. I continually look inside myself, trying to identify the parts of me that might dim your bright light. Search yourself, then search yourself again. There is always room for growth. Check your heart, explore your mind; receive criticism with an openness and humility. If you can learn to view every mistake, every failure, every embarrassment as this incredible opportunity to become a better, truer, more vivid version of yourself then you will undoubtedly be a happier person.
Finally, and most importantly, love. Love fully, love deeply and love without fear. There is a reason why every holy book, of every religion in this world speaks of love. There is a reason why people have been singing about love and writing about love for thousands of years. Love heals, love encompasses, love ignites, love strengthens and love builds. Whenever you are in doubt of what to do, how to act, where to turn - just always come back to love. The world told men a lie a long time ago; it said that you had to have tough hearts and stoic emotions. Don’t fall for this bullshit. The bravest, most courageous and strongest men I know are those who love from a real, raw and vulnerable place. I pray you always know that love is continually and unendingly available to you; and that you learn the joy in sharing this with others.