To Wesley Dean and Henry Patrick,
While you are too young to know how this world works, or how it doesn’t, I want to give you these words for someday when you can understand. I want to let you know about words that, although I know your mom and your other nana will also teach you, I fear will not come from so many others in your world.
Words like Hope. Hope is looking for the best thing to happen, not just for you but for the people, the community, the world, around you. Hope is believing that there is goodness and love in a world that sometimes seems filled with hate and anger. Hope is believing that you and others can make a change for the good while many people engage in making terrible mistakes.
Words like Peace. Peace is holding your tongue yet maintaining your spirit. Peace is doing the right thing quietly and steadily. Peace is staring down ignorance instead of beating it down. Peace is using your brain and your talents instead of your fists and your guns.
Words like Love. Love is a beautiful connection between people who trust each other, respect each other, hold each other up, and work for the betterment of each other. Love is patient and kind and holds no records of wrongs. (Those aren’t my words, but I like them.) Some love is between lots of people, some love is between your family, and some love is between two people, any two people, who want to make a family. As long as love is true, as long as it is not hurtful, it is to be honored and preserved.
Words like Respect. Respect is treating others the way you want to be treated. Respect is thinking about the needs of others and not just your own selfish desires. Respect is knowing that others have differences – differences of gender, race, identity, religion, abilities, ethnicity, culture, appearances and beliefs – and still treating all people with dignity and fairness.
On this day, while you are still children, this country took a step backwards in our understanding of those words. The majority of people have chosen a leader who has not lived his life in a way which is trustworthy, honorable, or kind. They have let a small fire of greed, bigotry and ignorance fuel into a blaze of intolerance and hate. For that, I am truly, truly sorry. But I promise you that I will do all I can to be a voice for you, to stand up for injustice when I see it, and to help teach you to be better men than the person who will lead our country and the ones who put him there. And each day, I will pray to the universe that hope, peace, love, and respect return to this world for you. You are enormously worthy of it.