My dearest son,
I am tasked with a very difficult job. I am tasked with raising you into a man. Not only am I tasked with raising you into a man, I’m tasked with raising you into a good man; a good man that contributes to society with characteristics like honor and integrity. It’s not the kind of task in which I can half way commit. I can’t walk away from it and return to it at a later date. It’s an ongoing task that requires me to be consistent, diligent, and ever-present.
When I first held your tiny frame in my arms, the overwhelming sense of wanting to raise you well was implanted deep within my heart. You looked up at me with your small, old man face and I instantly knew your success in this world deeply relied on my ability to teach you the difference between right and wrong. There are so many things I want to show you before you outgrow the days of wanting to hold my hand and the days where you need me to dust the dirt off your butt, set you back up on your own two feet, and tell you that you’re okay. Even though those days are many years away, I believe you can never start early enough on the following things:
For starters, I want you to know that I don’t care how athletic you are or if you go to Harvard or Yale. In fact, if you want to leave high school and get a job, that’s also fine. I’ll tell you what matters to me, son. It matters to me that you are kind. It matters to me that you are courageous. It matters to me that you stand up against what’s evil while actively trying to replace it with goodness. It matters to me that you admit when you are wrong. You aren’t always going to get it right and that’s okay. I just pray that you grow into the kind of man who isn’t afraid to admit it when he doesn’t and the kind of man who will be blessed with enough introspect to not do it again.
The world and some of your peers are going to try to convince you that it’s cool to be disrespectful. They are going to try to teach you that it’s okay to speak over your teachers, disobey your coaches, and challenge police officers over a routine traffic stop. Don’t be that kid. Don’t be the bully. Don’t be the troublemaker. I can remember every bully in my entire school and I’ll tell you this. Life wasn’t easy on them once they got outside the comfort of their own high school walls. Don’t pride yourself on making someone’s life harder. Pride yourself on making their lives better. Respect your teachers and your coaches. If for some reason, you get in trouble with the law, comply. It’s that simple. Even if you do not agree with them, treat them with respect and comply. We will work it all out later. Their job is hard enough without being put in a situation where someone’s behavior puts everyone at risk.
A small portion of the world may even try to convince you that the badge your father wears represents evil and abuse of power. They are wrong. They are guilty of combating the things they hate with more hatred. They are guilty of overgeneralizing, underappreciating, and skewing the facts to support an ill-intended dialog. Don’t fall for it. Don’t play into a narrative that only promotes more segregation and division. You’re better than that. You’re smarter than that.
Don’t speak over other people just to try to be heard. Wait your turn and always speak in a manner that is composed and collected. There will be a day where I will slip up in front of you and you will learn that mommy has the mouth of a sailor but, I have learned that the best way to be heard is to always remain calm and to choose your words wisely. If you want to heard, be respected and honorable enough for people to listen. Use your ability to communicate to defend those who aren’t as equipped as you are. Speak for those who do not have a voice and for those who are afraid to use their own. Be brave, little boy. Be fearless.
The world is going to try to trick you into believing that there is more evil than good. They are wrong, my son. There is goodness all around us. Sometimes we just have to look for it. Even more so, sometimes we have to be the one bringing attention to the acts of kindness around us because good news doesn’t sell quite as well as bad news. The world is going to try to teach you an over generalized mentality about other people. Don’t buy into it. Decide what you believe about each person you meet based solely on their actions as an individual. Don’t judge people on sexual orientation, occupation, race, religion, or gender. Hold them accountable to what’s right and wrong because of the one thing we all have in common; the fact that we are all people.
I could go on and on. Hopefully, I will have a lifetime of teaching you all of these things. Above all things, just be good. Be the good guy. Be better than my generation and the ones before me. Just be better. That will make me prouder than anything else. You can go on to do amazing things. Don’t settle for anything less than that. Don’t settle on the company you keep, the spouse that you choose, or the dream that you chase. It’s all up to you. It’s all your choice. I pray that you make the right one. I pray that you leave a positive mark in this world. We all need more heroes. You’ve already changed my life. I can’t wait to see how you change the rest of the world. There’s no doubt that you will.
With all my love –