Your mom can feel you moving around a lot right now. It’s not noticeable to me yet, but I’m told that’s only a few more weeks off. I’m a little envious of her right now, but still very excited about everything.
I got asked the inevitable question, one I’m sure everyone hears at some point: why would you bring a child into this world?
So first, I’m going to tell you a bit about the world that you’re about to enter. We recently hit a population of seven billion, a number you’ll never be old enough to comprehend — and resources are already stretched pretty thin. The atmosphere is heating up as a result of a century of unchecked fossil fuel dependency. We’re fighting wars in two countries as I write this — wars that your uncle Drew has fought in both of. The U.S. government is basically crippled and financially broke. Hundreds of species of animals are on the verge of extinction and I find myself wondering if elephants and tigers and cheetahs will even exist in the wild when you’re my age.
And I worry that our best days are behind us — before I was born, we sent men to the moon, eradicated polio, championed civil rights, found voices to protest unjust wars, and the American Dream was still alive and kicking. Today, we have a space station that houses six people and haven’t been back to the moon since 1972, companies turn diseases into “manageable conditions” instead of hunting for cures, we have to fight for civil rights for gay people, nobody really cares that we engaged in a war in Iraq on false pretenses, and education and a prosperous future have been made difficult to achieve.
So I look at your mom, and I imagine you in there, and while I worry about all these things, I know you’ll find a way to cope. Partly because despite all its failings, the world and the people in it are generally good. There are people out there, giving their time and money and resources to solve the world’s problems. There are people out there that push the boundaries of what is possible and discover and see new things for the sake of doing so, rather than for profit.
And it feels like we’re on the cusp of doing amazing things — curing AIDS, being able to destroy cancer, putting men back on the moon and heading on to Mars, solving the problems of hunger, global warming, and all the other things that plague our planet and humanity as a whole. We, as a whole, just need to find the leadership and resolve to nudge the human race into action. So despite all the inequities and the short-sightedness, it’s still an amazing time to be alive.
I know that the world you’re coming into is a scary place. I went through a similar time when I was growing up, when it was thought that nuclear war was pretty much a foregone conclusion and that the only variable was when it would happen. We had famine in Africa, drought in the U.S., the oil crisis, the Cold War, and so much more.
But ultimately, human ingenuity, creativity, and compassion all trump our short-sightedness. As long as there is a group of people that are willing to be the light in the world, the problems will be solved, the bold undertakings will happen, and the world will end up being a better place. And with the world you’re being born into, you’ll have to be both strong and compassionate, which is difficult. But I know you can do that. And I promise you that if you can do that, do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing to do, and treat others the way that you want to be treated, then you will have made the world a better place, for others and for yourself. These were hard lessons for me to learn, and I hope that you have an easier time of it than I did.
Now, back to the question. When someone asks about my reasoning for bringing a child into this world, I have an answer. It’s to increase the amount of love and happiness in the world, which is something everyone should strive to do.
I look forward to meeting you, Edwin. I can’t wait to show you the world and all the amazing things in it. We should probably start at the zoo.