My fears, my son

At one point in my life I was practically fearless. At that time, because I was shielded from any real form of adversity, I arrived at the conclusion that I was invincible. I lived my life as if nothing could happen to me or to anyone I loved. Of course, I know that is not true. Losing loved ones has taught me about mortality.

The monsters that crept out at night from under my bed when I was much smaller have long since vanished.  The night does not scare me. So when these monsters frighten you dear, I’ll be there to reassure you that they are imaginary.

Between, those days of my youth and now, I have seen the shape of fear as it manifests itself through the shadow of worrying.  Your mother and I worry because we have seen the danger that lurks in the world beyond our watchful eyes. I fight an increasingly losing battle to keep your spaces confined to a play mat, a crib, and a corner of the room.

Beyond our doors is a world where a man starts shooting indiscriminately at people, including many small children, in a movie theater. Beyond these confines is the world where seemingly normal people stand and watch while mobs molest, murder, and riot. Where the state machinery is put to use to deprive others of basic human rights. Where entire populations are persecuted and ultimately decimated. Where children are put in harm’s way, face wars, exploitation, hunger, physical suffering, and a mournful loss of innocence. I worry for you because I love you, but I also worry for them because they are like you.

I am also acutely aware that every perpetrator and accomplice of every atrocity ever committed is someone’s son or daughter. Each failure on their part is a colossal failure for their parents. And so I worry for you, and also for myself. I want to be worthy of your unconditional love, but also to teach you what is right and what is wrong by example. I want to protect you, but I also want to instill in you values that will one day encourage you to worry about the world around you too when you’re ready.

I want to end today with a few lines from a song written by Graham Nash. I will teach you the meaning of the words when you are a little older.

And you, of tender years
Can’t know the fears
That your elders grew by
And so please help them with your youth
They seek the truth
Before they can die.

Teach your parents well
Their children’s hell
Will slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick
The one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.