Dear Kids, Choose Love
I want you to know that people will say lots of stupid things in your lifetime. I know that you already know this because I say “bedtime” every night at 7:30, and you think it’s 100% stupid every single night. But I’m talking about even stupider things. Things that are cruel. Things that come from a place of hate.
I want you to know that by “people,” I mean you, your dad, and me too. None of us are immune. People you love, people you admire, people whom you care about, we’re all bound to make some rash, hateful, or otherwise offensive statements at some point or another.
I want you to know that no matter how much you love us–no matter how much you love any one person–if our words come from a place of hate, I want you to stand up and say “ENOUGH.”
I want you to know that you can love someone and proclaim “enough.”
I want you to know that our country has a Constitutional Amendment that protects everyone’s right to say stupid things. This is a remarkable protection. It is an extraordinary right. But it doesn’t mean that we can say whatever we want without facing consequences or criticism from others.
I want you to know that we can lose friends over the hateful things we say. We can create rifts between family members over rash statements we make. We can even be fired from our jobs for saying something stupid. The Constitution does not protect us from these consequences. It gives our society plenty of space to proclaim “ENOUGH.”
I want you to know that there was a time in our nation’s history when there were laws that explicitly segregated black people from white people. I want you to know how dangerous it was for anyone to speak out against these laws: how black people faced incredible violence, destruction, and even death at the hands of people who enforced or supported these laws. I want you to know that our nation was built on the backs of slaves: people who also faced incredible violence, destruction, and often death. I want you to know that there is an incredible ignorance even today about the realities of these conditions. I want you to know that these realities and histories continue to shape our society today–that they continue to shape people’s lives–and that remaining willfully ignorant of them perpetuates injustices that are just as real as any injustice of the past.
I want you to know that hate has shaped people’s response to love. I want you to know that people throughout the world and in our own country face incredible violence, destruction, and even death just because of whom and how they love. I want you to know that people can believe and say whatever they want about love. But I also want you to know–to remember–that we still have plenty of space to say “ENOUGH” when those beliefs and statements come from a place of hate.
I want you to know that when it comes time to choose between acting or speaking from a place of love or hate, you should choose love. Even if you are angry. Even if you are outraged. Even if you are fighting against the injustices of the world. Choose angry love. Choose loving outrage. Fight it all from a place where deep inside you, you are choosing love.
I want you to know that the world is impossibly complex and nuanced. Just when you think that you have it all right, some small or not so small detail will pop up and startle you. Let yourself be challenged by these small details. Let them shake you to your core. Let them force you to see the world in all its maddeningly rich shades of grey.
I want you to know all of this. And I want you to act in a way that exemplifies all of it.
Please choose love. Please choose nuance. And please choose standing up for the vulnerable and the disenfranchised before standing up for your favorite television star.