Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Letter to My Stepford Children

To my beautiful children,

I know we’ve talked a lot about what today will mean in the context of our lives, your future, and the future of your children. I’ve tried to impress upon you that today you will be a witness to history. I want to put my very personal feelings about this day in writing so that when you are adults you can look back and better understand, through grown up eyes, your mother’s intensity about this day.

I know at the ages of eight and eleven, it is still hard for you to comprehend that I lived a very long time before you were here … thirty years, in fact. Those thirty years to me are like an old black and white film, my life not turning to color until I became your mother. And now that I am your mother, I love you more than any heart has a right to love. The two of you, each unique and yet so similar, are indeed the very air I breathe. Every beat of my heart is for you.

What you really need to understand started long before I was born. Your grandpa who picks you up from school each day, guides you through your homework, and plays video games with you was born in 1945 on a small farm in East Texas. You have no reference point in your lives for how poor Grandpa’s family was. Your grandpa went to work in the fields on the family farm when he was just six years old. He grew up in a two-room shack that had no running water, insulation, central heating or air conditioning, or a toilet. These conditions had not changed when he left the farm against his father’s wishes in 1965 to go to Jr. College. Your grandpa worked and went to college part-time all through the 1970s and 1980s while I was growing up. He finally obtained his Bachelor’s degree in 1988 and five years later he obtained a Master’s degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience. He is one dissertation short of a PhD. You, my precious children, are but two generations away from abject poverty. Your grandpa’s drive for an education changed not only his life, but mine and therefore yours.

I’ve chosen to raise you in Stepford because I want you to live in a safe neighborhood and have the best public education I can provide. I want you to live in a nice home and have nice things. I’ve brought you up in a church because I want you to have an extended church family to love and care for you spiritually. However, I need you to understand that these things are blessings that have been bestowed upon you, not because you have earned them, but because of the sacrifices of those who lived before you. You are not entitled to any of your blessings. Everything you have has all been given freely out of love. You each have bright, limitless futures ahead of you, you much choose to make the most of them.

With any blessing, comes responsibility. Your blessings are great and, therefore, your responsibilities are as well. You must never forget that there are those less fortunate than you. You must always lend a helping hand where you can, sacrifice for the greater good, stay informed and engaged with the world at large, and set an example for others to follow. You must constantly monitor those who have been elected to lead our Nation. If you feel our Nation has drifted off course, you must speak up and say so. You each have a voice inside you. Work very hard to find it, listen to it and act upon it.

Today we elect a new leader for our Country. You came with your dad and me ten days ago and watched as we cast our votes for the first person of color to ever be nominated on a major party ticket. This morning you watched Barack and Michelle Obama as they cast their ballots live on television. I believe it is not the fact that Barack Obama is black that is of importance today. But rather the fact that we have been privileged enough to watch a man transcend his race while so many expected him to fail. He has done all that I have asked of you in the paragraphs above. When you remember this day, I pray you remember a man who lived up to the responsibilities of his blessings and then changed the world. I expect nothing less of each of you in whatever way, large or small, you are able.

I Love You Always,

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