I have been thinking a lot recently on how my wife and I will raise our soon-to-be-born child in a world that often doesn’t make sense, has never been fair, and can often be a brutal place. I have asked myself: What are the most important lessons to impart upon our child? Notice that I left the question genderless? Totally on purpose and I know the sex of our child, I just don’t think it matters in regards to the big picture of raising a child. I’ve asked myself how we will teach our kid simple tasks but if I had to boil life down to what matters, I just want our child to grow into a good person. My only wishes for you are these:
Show a genuine concern for others. You will come across people from all walks of life. Some will come from privilege while others may come from abject poverty. All life has value and you should treat others as such. Not all of these people will be kind to you. They may have experiences that have hardened their hearts or they have had reason to distrust the world. Do your best to be kind to those people most of all. Never let another’s anger or anguish affect how you act.
You will learn that intelligence is a tricky thing. You will be able to do alot to affect what you know. Ignorance is usually a personal choice. You won’t need to be a rocket scientist to be successful. Do your best to understand the world, the people in it, your strengths, and your limitations. Do that, and you will be better off than most of the world’s population. Many people can’t pull those four intelligences together into a total package.
The world is a terrifying place. It is so easy to button up and not put yourself out there and expose yourself to failure. Many folks sit back and laugh at those that continually put everything on the line for what they believe in. Being brave is hard because it means whatever you are doing, you are rightfully scared to be doing it. It may mean losing friends because you are willing to sacrifice that to be right. Don’t be brave for bravery’s sake. Be brave when it is the right thing to do. Bravery means stepping out and doing your best when you might fail.
Being kind, smart, and brave will be of little value unless you have the strength to stand up for it. The world will be full of people, events, and circumstances that will try to sap the life from you. You will have to be strong to be kind and to be a better person. Personal strength will be more than what you can build in the gym. You will need a combination of physical, moral, mental, and emotional strength and endurance. Once you are strong enough to stand up for yourself, you will need to be strong enough to stand up for others.
Be a good person.
Everyone thinks that they are the good guy. You will find that the harder that try to be kind, smart, brave, and strong, the harder life will get. The world will be morally ambiguous and you will find yourself in conflict with others who see the world differently. Life will be hard. Will your actions be a benefit for the group or for the individual? Will the ends justify the means? I can’t answer those questions for you. Those questions will remain questions when you have children of your own. I had to answer my own and probably got a few of them wrong. Just do your best to be kind, smart, brave, and strong and I think you will become a good person. That is all I can really ask for and that is my wish for you.