To be handed out, shared, and/or dropped into all countries, all the time, for the rest of time and memorial.
To Whom It May Concern: All Workers and CEOs, Magistrates, Kings, Queens, Congressmen, Presidents, Countrymen, Commoners, Upper, Middle, and Lower Classers, No Classers, the Destitute, the Mighty, all Refugees and the Warlords who made them so, all Soldiers Worldwide and Weapon-Wielders Alike and Unalike,the Philosophers and Thinkers and Believers and Musicians and Artists and Teachers and Performers, Couch Sitters and Gum Chewers, the Married and Unmarried, Widowed, Single, Searching, Fatherless and Motherless, the Lonely, the Spent, those Yearning to be Free, the Privileged and Unprivileged Alike, all Writers and Editors, the Uneducated, Educated, and OverEducated, and those Left Out, those Fit In, Alike and All:
I have a child on the way. She will be the greatest person, entity, and force in the Universe and I want nothing bad to happen to her, ever. I mean scrapes and bruises and childhood bumps are okay, and the occasional cold and fever will be allowable, but I’m talking about the big, scary, preventable stuff. She will be the latest addition to our family, and the following also applies to my wife, son, and first daughter, who are also the greatest people, entities, and forces in the Universe.
So, to preserve her life against all ills and manners of human-imposed violence and destruction, I need you to take a few things seriously.
First off – what you need to understand is that I want you to consider that my child is your child, and vice versa. To take away my child from me would be the worst thing known to humanity. So therefore I want to get rid of this possibility from our life on this world.
Once you understand this it will eliminate a lot of violent oversight, in that I would never harm your neighborhood or village or state or town or city because I know your child is there, and I wouldn’t want to hurt her or her future (this also goes for your child’s mother and family and friends, as it would mine).
There is nothing worth destroying your child for – not money or land, not pride or belief, not resources or ideas. Let me just restate this so I’m understood: there is nothing worth destroying your child for. Nothing. I would never want to take your life or your child’s life for something I need or want to have. That would be foolish and selfish, and wouldn’t be something I would want to teach my child. If there is conflict, then we can work it out somehow, whatever it is. We can share, or better yet we can trade and borrow and lend, and hopefully we’ll keep it clean and fair and reasonable. Or if we really can’t see eye to eye, we can walk away and be friends in the future somehow. I also hear that love and forgiveness are options worth trying. You love your child, and I love mine. We’re not that different.
This being stated and understood, there are some big things I think we can work on to eliminate the chance that our children won’t survive, namely disease and poverty. Poverty often leads to disease, and disease can make the wealthiest become impoverished, so we’re really talking about these two. Whatever cures my tribe has to share, I promise to share them with your tribe so that your children will live. And my tribe has a lot to share. Nobody’s child should die from easily preventable sickness or hunger, ever. No child should be hungry or sick for any preventable reason. And this is something we can work on and perfect. We have enough tools and time.
That’s about it. If we can secure these two points, I’m sure everything else – education, science, technology, medicine, access to resources, music, the arts, et al. – will fall into place. If they don’t fall into place (or fall into something better or different) then hopefully our children will get together and help us see that we are more alike than different, or that we don’t have to bicker about it. Or that whatever it is that is separating us might be a meaningless thing, far under the importance of community and providing for the long life of our children. But our children need to be alive, healthy, and free if we’re not going to heed this advice until the next generation.
To end, dear world, and all the whoms that are in it, I wish you and your children peace and satisfaction. I may not live in your land or share your customs or gods or traditions, but I know what it is to be a father and a child. By the time my children are grown, hopefully there will be a better, cleaner, safer, and healthier world for their sons and daughters. If not then we will have to try again until success (what and whenever that may be) is achieved.
We, as a race, have been trying this for millennia, and sooner or later we’ll get good at it.
In love, hope, and peace,
(This essay originally appeared on The Good Men Project.)
About the author: Jeremy McKeen is a high school English teacher, coach, musician, and father of three living in Massachusetts whose Bergamot Ink column appears on The Good Men Project, where he is an Editor-at-Large. He has been featured on and written for Sammiches & Psych Meds, Ravishly, Scary Mommy, BLUNTMoms, Yahoo! Parenting, HuffPo Parents, The Motherish, MockMom, and The Gloucester Clam, and maintains his his own site, Nerdy Dad Shirt. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.