September 9, 2034
It’s probably not cool to say “hey guys” in 2034 (or 2014 for that matter), but whatever. There’s no good way to start a letter like this. Man, physical letters totally won’t even exist when you’re reading this. And I’ll be 45. Try to forgive me for buying that sports car last year. Your mother knew what she was getting into.
Given that you come from a long line of Norwegians, Irish and Italians, you – my collective children – are likely comprised of at least one boy and one girl, likely more than one of each (hence the sports car and grey hair). I believe that this message, cryogenically frozen and brought forth twenty years into the future, is extremely important now and will likely be just as important to you as you approach your most informative and important years.
I’m writing you this letter because society in 2014 has begun to undergo a cultural shift over the past decade or so. Racism is still alive, but its social acceptance has all but vanished. Homophobia has experienced the same public undress, though lags behind racism as the disgusting parts of religion still infect so many who choose to hate rather than to love. If nothing else, remember that I will always love you and will embrace whoever you choose to love, provided of course they don’t root for the Green Bay Packers. Your uncles have already been banned from the house on Sundays for this very reason.
I wanted to write this letter because I’m afraid that while we’ve seen a cultural shift in acceptance, the underlying values of hatred will permeate in our society as you’re growing up. You’ll probably have racist or homophobic friends, and you’ll have to make decisions on who you’ll want as friends and lovers. You may not know their feelings on these issues until years from now, when a throwaway comment catches you off guard and sends chills down your spine. You may already be dealing with this type of dilemma. I hope you feel comfortable in who you are and what you believe not to take any abuse directed your way for your lifestyle or with whom you associate. Though I understand that doing so may be difficult. It certainly is in 2014.
Sadly, I can almost assure you that you will have friends who are sexist. People who don’t value men and women as equals, just as they may think white people shouldn’t have to coexist openly and honestly with black people. I know this because I currently live in a world that subversively thinks it’s ok that women earn 80% of what men do for the same job. That our colleges and businesses should be run by men. That women belong in the kitchen cooking dinner. I may share in that last sentiment to a small degree – I apologize if your mother hates cooking as much as I do. I’ll learn how to make something other than soup or frozen pizzas eventually.
Not only do many men believe that they’re superior to women, but some women actually agree with them. Don’t get me wrong, many women are empowered and forceful and rightfully speak up when their rights are valued at a disproportionally low rate, but women outnumbered men by more than 7 million in the United States as of 2009. None of them should feel pressured to stay quiet. But they do, in part because men are bigger and badder and meaner and stronger and are full of testosterone and could just snap at any mo—-
Stop. There is no reason for you to stay quiet if you feel unsafe or hurt or pressured or scared.
I feel so strongly about this now in 2014 because I look at the country and don’t like what I see. I see abusive men, such as Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who knocked his fiancée unconscious but initially skirted by on the underhanded nature of his attrition and his value to his employer. The wrong was righted (partially), due to an overwhelming outcry of anger and derision at his initial punishment. But he was still acquitted by our legal system, a lower rung of the very same oligarchy that believes racism is dead.
In the aftermath of this brutality, I hope we took the time to realize that we’ve fostered a culture that not only treats male superiority as a foundational pillar of excellence, but has replaced the idea of equality with something like an applause meter. If the noise reaches a certain level, only then will the powers that be act in their entrusted capacity. Only once a secret wrong is exposed does it have a chance to be rectified. This needs to change.
To my darling daughter(s) [insert trendy name(s) here derived from popular visual internet program], I hope you understand that you deserve to be respected and treated with kindness and compassion by all who you encounter, so long as you act accordingly in return. I hope you feel confident and strong enough to pursue any career or passion you desire. Unless that means playing for the Green Bay Packers. Your uncles will have to run their Christmas gifts by me from now on.
If we can take only one principle from Christianity – and perhaps we should take just one – it’s that you should treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you abide by this principle, you’ll have everything you need to be successful. You already have your mother’s looks and intelligence.
To my charming son(s) [insert popular name from the 1970s because I secretly lost a bet], the same rule applies for you, as well. Treat women with respect and you’ll receive it right back. It really isn’t that difficult to understand. I’m not asking you to put women on a pedestal, to fawn over their explicit beauty or nurture their every whim, but simply be respectful. Listen when they speak and communicate honestly in a civilized tone. Your friends and girlfriends will appreciate this. They will love you for it.
And maybe, just maybe, you can take the time to show your friends this letter. Maybe they can show theirs. Social equality shouldn’t carry with it the same third-rail animosity that socialism or a social economy does. I hope you read this, even if by the time you do, you won’t even know what a Green Bay Packer is.