I’m writing you from halfway across the world. You are safe and snug in France with your mother and grandmother and I am in the U.S. on business. There is an entire continent and an entire ocean that separate us and at this great distance, after a day and night like I’ve just witnessed, I feel that distance more than ever.
You see, we’ve just finished electing the next president of the United States. The ballots have been cast, the votes tallied and I’m afraid. I’m truly afraid. I’m afraid not only of what we might become, but of who we, as a nation, might already be.
Your mom and I try our hardest, even at your young age, to instill in you kindness and understanding. We encourage you to play with other kids, no matter what they look like or where they are from. And we give so that you might become a good person.
We give you to people, even to complete strangers, so that they can hold you. For them, this is a chance to hold something precious, a life that is unfettered by all the hate and divineness that poisons our world. For you, this is is a physical lesson so that you can understand that people are, in their hearts, inherently good and will strive to protect those that are weaker than themselves if only given the chance.
We give you books. You have your favorite books – Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type and Le Livre des Bruits. You reach for one of these two books every time it’s story time and I ask you what books you want to read. Sure, you mostly slobber on them, but you are learning the value of books, you are turning the pages and you smile when your mother or I read to you and you are happy listening to us tell you all about the cows demanding electric blankets from Farmer Brown because it’s cold outside.
We give you complex problems to figure out, such as how to put the ball back in the cup. You spend so much of your time working hard on this complex problem. You pick up the ball from the cup in your little hand and drop it on the floor only to pick it back up and see how it fits so snugly into the cup. How the ball goes in and out of the cup is a complex issue for you, but this is life, and it only gets more complex after this, so we hope you’ll understand.
Even though you’re only nine months old, we teach you that people are inherently good and that they will protect those that are weaker. We teach you that books and the knowledge they contain are valuable. We teach you that the world is full of complex issues that take time to figure out.
However, today I’ve discovered that there are so many people that have voted to hurt those that are weaker and voted against being educated and against taking time to work through complex issues and these people elected the next president of the United States.
This scares me.
What scares me more is that these same people, the people that don’t share our values, are also people that hate me. In some ways, I can understand it. I’ve made decisions and taken positions that not everyone would agree with. I support the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter and pretty much every liberal-leaning policy I can think of and I converted to Islam. A lot of people don’t like me for this sort of stuff and that is okay, but it’s scary to think that they hate me.
But do you know what’s even scarier? People hate you.
You are a baby. A nine-month old. A person who can’t even walk or talk and still poops his diapers. And they hate you.
You are hated because half of you comes from Africa. You are hated because half of you has roots in a religion and culture that has been vilified and denigrated. You are hated and you haven’t even said your first word yet.
I’m am scared for you. That is not an easy thing for a parent to tell a child, but there it is.
In ten days I will be home and the distance between us will have diminished, but the work will begin. We need to grow strong to combat all this hate. We need to show everyone else that people are inherently good, that education is valuable and that the world is complex. Most of all, we need love. Lots of it.
So, son, let’s do it. You and me and your mother. Let’s make our love so big and so wide and so strong and then let’s spread it around and make it so that all this hate doesn’t have any choice but disappear, just as the dark slithers away when the sun shines its bright, luminous light.
We can do this.