I have written this blog a hundred times in my mind. I have shared these thoughts with anyone who will listen. Each time an injustice occurs, I feel compelled to address it. I think it is important to have honest dialogue about pressing issues. I think there is no more pressing issue than addressing how humans treat each other.
I am not writing this with any delusion that a single blog entry can shift the weight of centuries of destructive behaviour but I am writing it for a very specific purpose. I am writing it for my daughters. I want them to know in a very defined and personal way how their dad looks at them, their friends, their enemies and those who will inevitably enter their lives. If it goes beyond impacting them then it is a bonus.
I am a pretty regular guy. Not an academic. Not really even a very good activist. I aspire to many things but the core of who I am can be summarized by the basic idea that I am not that much different than most people. Raised in a local home. Worked for everything I have. Never have enough time to do the things I think I should. The only reason that I can even take the hour to dump these thoughts into my laptop is that I cannot stand the idea that evil and injustice goes unopposed. I can not tolerate that bad people who do bad things will get a free pass in dumping their ideologies onto others. I have to believe that opposing their horrific beliefs and behaviours is the least that I can do especially when I consider the world that my girls will grow up in.
So here it is. A letter to my girls. Hopefully it will have meaning to them at some point in their lives.
I try to live the ideas spelled out in this letter in my day to day life but some things just need to be written down. I was convicted of this on Father’s day when you all took the time to make me cards. Dee, you took the time to tell me that you appreciated that I was there for you during some struggles. That meant a lot. We have talked about a lot the past six months and I wanted to be present for you during that tough time. It meant a lot to have you take the time to say you appreciated that support. I want you all to know why it is so important to me to be involved in addressing issues like child abuse, human trafficking, racism and unfair practices related to being a woman.
You girls are all special to me in many ways. Our home is like a sampler of the world we live in and represents many skin colors, stories and personalities. I have to believe that you see me rubbing my forehead and hear me talking about how people suffer all over the world. You know that I think about injustice and oppression often and try to find ways to confront those acts.
I invest in this for a lot of reasons but one of the most pressing is the realization that any of my daughters could be one of those fellow humans who are treated poorly because of their ethnicity, skin color, gender or many other reasons. .
As you get older, I also realize that I want you to be humans that make a difference in a way that transcends professional achievement, financial success and American capitalistic goals. I want you to see your fellow planet dwellers, humans in particular, as a valuable and worthy counterpart to your life here on Earth. It can be a rich experience.
The problem with humans is that we treat other humans terribly on many levels. At some point in any evil act there is an assumption that one human believes himself to be more valuable than another. I know this sounds simplistic. But whatever the example, and there are a lot of recent ones to consider, the basic idea in the act of evil is that one person sees opportunity to empower himself over another based on beliefs in race, sex, age or status.
I have seen too much in my travels and in my work to feel otherwise. The evil that corrodes this world brings arguments about many legitimate issues such as global warming, gun control, economics and racism. They are all very important to address. But at the end of the day, these issues are about power and control. One person believing that they are better than someone else to the point that they will abuse them, exploit them, disrespect them or even kill them.
I know that some days after a long shift in the Emergency Department, I can get a little cynical and frustrated with people. This is something that I deeply regret because it is a slippery slope toward making judgments about people that could lead me to thinking I have something over them. This has to do with controlling my thoughts and balancing them with truths.
We talk a lot at home about how to manage the thoughts that enter our head. This idea that any thought that pops into your head is worthy of being labeled as truth is a dangerous act. We talk about how we have to use our mind as a filter to consider that thought and to judge it as truth or mistruth. This challenges us to consider with care the issues that affect us day to day. Life is busy and it is easy to allow thoughts to simply pass through into beliefs without proper consideration of whether it is truth.
I am afraid that there are many humans who allow these thoughts to go unfiltered to the degree that great mistruths become ideology laced with great conviction. We then find that we lose perspective on how we perceive others. This is a dangerous place for the human race to be.
I struggle with the idea that people are different in any manner. I can not accept that one race can assume superiority over another. I can not tolerate that one gender can assume a greater role than another. I will not believe that a child can be used by an adult simply because they have power to exploit.
Yet, all these things happen routinely. They happen in our community as well as around the globe.
All people are conceived and born by the same rights of biology. They take their first breath of the air within this shared environment. Yet some will make the assumption that they are better, smarter or more powerful than others and will make decisions that impact others in destructive ways.
Never believe this lie. Embrace the universal truth that we are all biologically equivalents who harbor the presence of life in our hearts, minds and souls. There is so much more that we share in commonality and it is shameful to consider how much some have tried to claim that we are different.
I hope you will consider the truth in this plea. The recent past has many examples and the future will unfortunately have more. I believe we can make a difference in the world around us by confronting the mistruths that are racism, gender inequality and human trafficking and exploitation. Allowing these lies to remain unopposed has consequences. We must confront them directly and with love so that evil does not fester to the point of destructive behavior.
Try not to be distracted by attempts to make this an argument about gun rights, or the right to sell sex, or cultural sensitivity. This is about the basic idea that all humans are equal counterparts of our journey on this shared planet. Don’t be fooled, it is this simple. Push back against the subtle lies that pervade our lives and make an effort to embrace the plight of those who are less fortunate than yourselves.
- Consider Charleston, SC where a young white male believed that he was better than any black person and took it upon himself to incite a race war with the intent to return to segregation so that he would not have to be exposed to a lesser race.
- Consider the plight of millions of child laborers who are violently forced to work in order that others may profit from the blood, sweat and tears of their labor. Their traffickers believe that they have a right to exploit that work because those are just children without value to society.
- Consider the “john” that buys sex from a prostitute. He buys sex because he believes that with that purchase there is an implied agreement that he can control what the other does sexually. That control is an expression of power and makes sex an act of demonstrating his inflated worth at the expense of others worthlessness.
I could go on but you know where my heart is…