The world is a scary place. I don't want to alarm you, but I also don't want to sugarcoat things for you and place you in a bubble. Actually, that's not true. It is what I WANT to do. I want to wrap a bubble around you so that nothing bad can ever happen to you, so that you will never see anything scary, so that you will grow up not knowing evil. But I know that I can't do that. You will see scary things as you grow older, you will be terrified by situations on the news or out in front of you. You will constantly question if there are any good people left in this world. I know that because I have to remind myself every single day of how much good there still is.
When I grew up, I don't remember feeling this powerless, this hurt, this scared for my life in the United States. It was the greatest country in the world. Bad things didn't happen here. My world was forever changed on September 11, 2001 and as I sat in my freshman year dorm room, I knew that things would never feel quite as carefree and safe as they did just the day before. And as time has gone on, things have only gotten scarier when I was so sure they would get better.
In the aftermath of that awful day, we saw so many people come together, to stand up for our country, to ensure our safety. And I thought that would continue. I was so proud to be an American. Look at us, fighting back with love and peace.
But sadly, that isn't the case anymore. On a daily basis I am seeing things that have me completely terrified for our country. People being senselessly murdered simply because of their skin color, their religion, their sexual orientation. School shootings taking the lives of so many innocent children. Political tensions inciting riots and tension between friends. It's become too much. I can't bear to turn on the news anymore, or read through social media.
I am so scared to see what will become of this world as you grow up. I never wanted to bring a child into such a scary place. I wanted you to grow up without these fears. I wanted to send you off to school without worrying every single day that you may not come back to me. I wanted to show you that our world is good.
And now I'm afraid that it may not be. That I have failed you because I already know I won't be able to protect you from seeing evil.
So instead, I have a new resolution for you. I promise to protect you the best that I can. And I promise that with each time something horrible, senseless, tragic happens, we will sit down together, I will explain the events to you, and then we will figure out where we can find the good, and how we can help. I don't want you to grow up scared. I want you to grow up asking how you can make a difference, to stop these tragedies from happening. I want you to have a voice and to know that you can cause change. That silence isn't the way to go - that being brave and speaking up is.
One of my very favorite quotes is from Mr. Rogers and he says, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
You can be the helper, Henry.
In big ways, or small ways, you can be the helper. When the world feels scary and overwhelming, just ask how you can be the helper. And never forget to show compassion, understanding, and empathy.
I love you,