Dear Baby Brown Bear,
Please, please, please be a positive change in this world. Let your legacy be one of peace, unity, and love.
Unfortunately I write this to you in the wake of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, where 50 people were killed and more than 50 more were wounded at an LGBT nightclub. It was a horrifying and hateful act. One which was sadly not altogether unexpected.
We live in a heartbreaking time where adults (and even children) are massacred and nothing changes. People who have the greatest power to affect change sit by and send their empty “prayers” and condolences on social media while families are destroyed and futures are senselessly ended. As Loud is Ladylike said, this issue is especially hard to unravel or even begin to solve as it is a sickening blend of gun violence, LGBT hate crime, and terrorism.
We also live in a time where heinous acts of sexual assault occur regularly and, again, nothing happens. In fact, only 0.6% of rapists are incarcerated. Most instances of sexual assault aren’t even reported (only one out of three is). Just recently, a rapist was given a sentence of just six months instead of the requested six years because prison “would have a severe impact on him” (he was a Stanford athlete, don’t we know?!). His father said even that was too harsh because his crime was only “20 minutes of action.” Even more disgusting, we are supposed to consider this a victory because, hey, at least he was convicted at all.
All the while, we are quickly destroying our planet. Human ignorance, denial, greed, and apathy are all contributing factors to increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Pollution is at an all-time high. It’s so bad that there is a garbage island floating in our fragile oceans. Animals and plant species are rapidly going extinct. Despite the growing evidence of dire consequences already occurring, behaviors are frighteningly slow to change. We collectively take and take and take from our precious home, and at a certain point we must face that there will be nothing left.
Needless to say, I am embarrassed by how badly we are failing your generation, Baby Bear. We have the means to make a real impact, and yet we are not using them. Yes, the discussions are happening and awareness is being raised. But that is not enough.
By no means am I saying I am perfect. I try my best to think of my carbon footprint, but I can be wasteful. I try my best to treat others kindly, but I lose my patience or make quick and unfair judgments. I’m also absolutely overwhelmed when I think about the multitude of problems we face today and can’t help but succumb to hopelessness.
While I can honestly say I don’t know what the answers are, I do know that they are not to shut down, give up, or become afraid. I know that we must embrace each other for our similarities and our differences, now more than ever. I know that for every vile human being there are even more with love in their hearts, across religions, across sexual and gender identities, across political views, across the world. I know that we must each fight for Mother Earth so we can continue to exist as a species.
I know that change won’t happen with silence or inaction.
I promise to try my best to instill in you a sense of appreciation, humility, respect, compassion, and integrity. Your grandparents taught me from a very young age to treat others as I would like them to treat me, and I hope to teach you the same. I hope you surround others with as much love as you are surrounded with yourself. I hope you will fight for those who cannot. I hope you will try to make each day better than the day before for the people, animals, and earth around you. It will not always be easy, but I hope to give you the courage you need to stand up for and do what is right.
Baby Bear, every single positive difference you make counts. Even small, nearly imperceptible change is change.
As long as I live, I will try to lead by example. While the atrocity that occurred today in Orlando makes me want to do nothing but cuddle you in my arms and keep you safe against me, I cannot. Instead, I must devote my life to bringing more love and peace into this world so that you do the same for your children one day. I must help you grow to be the good, kindhearted, and intelligent man I know you will be.
I love you with my whole heart, Baby Bear. You are my legacy.