You counted your birthday chain today: 37 days until you turn five. Half a decade. Five trips around the sun. One thousand eight hundred and twenty-five sunrises (I swear you have been awake for at least half of them). Countless minutes to grow and learn; countless opportunities to make it right, make it better, make it count.
You are still learning. And my biggest hope for you is that you become a student of your life.
Yesterday, while you recited the Pledge of Allegiance and built your fifth Lego dragon of the week, our Country got a new President. His name is Donald. And while you pranced around munching on white cheddar cheese and salami, he raised his right hand and vowed to protect and supervise the place we call home for the next four years. I would have turned on the television to show you, but we made the choice long ago to forego channels and commercials for the sake of our sanity and our budget. I think you would have like the music, though.
You must realize that this new President-thing is going to happen a lot in your life. And while you don’t care today, someday you might. Someday I hope you do. Someday I hope you care enough to sign your name on a ballot and commit to using your Citizenship for bettering.
Today, while you built a Lego Igloo and turned your nose up at the yogurt fruit dip I made, women joined hands and walked on city streets and country roads to tell the World that they believe in something. And while you sat in time-out for body-slamming your sister and giggled with glee at the puppies up for adoption at the Pet Store, Americans spent their morning in the rain and snow and cold holding high signs and babies and hearts, reminding the World that they have a voice to be heard.
You must realize that passionate people have a place just as much as passive people do. But the former group will initiate change, expand perspectives, and fight for justice in ways that are more bold and more foreign and sometimes more uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean they are wrong. I hope someday you feel passionate. I hope someday you feel strongly enough, convicted enough, to see through the signs and marching. I hope your vision is clear enough to see the message.
You see, leadership does not mean the best kid on the playground wins. It does not equal the captain of the football team or the kid that is always mimicked in high school. Leadership is a privilege that must be earned. And while many people are questioning the mind and message and motivation of our new President, in our household we will still recognize him as the Leader of our Country.
But I want to set the record straight about a few things.
Our political opinion doesn’t matter. It certainly doesn’t matter to you at age almost-five. And the truth is that where we stand on the donkey-elephant spectrum today probably won’t matter in a decade. We change as the World changes. As a human race, we are supposed to evolve. We are supposed to advance. We are supposed to look back with applause and appall. And we are supposed to stand on the corner of commendation, moving forward in our human journey with greater perspective.
Do not take this to mean that opinions don’t matter. Or that they don’t have a place to be voiced or displayed or dispersed. More than the way in which they are shared is the heart behind their creation. As the World Turns, sweet boy, life will continue to move. People will move forward. Technology will advance. The impossible will become reality. Dreams will materialize. And just as much as these great and beautiful and bold things will happen, the opposite will also be true. Communities will look backward. They will forget to hold close the lessons and lesions and losses of road-pavers and justice-makers. Hearts will harden. Tragedy will transpire in unthinkable and indescribable ways. Dreams will dissipate.
You are not your opinion. You are not the opinion of someone else. You are not the subject of accuracy in the tabloids or on the lips of your peers at school. You belong to something better. And our biggest prayer for you is that your soul finds home in Someone Greater.
Opinions matter, kid. But hearts matter more. I don’t know our new President. I don’t know what he eats for breakfast. Or what laundry detergent he uses. I do know he poops, though—which might make your almost-five-year-old mind fall into a fit of giggles. He is human. A sinful, selfish, soul-bearing mortal who happens to be in a position of leadership. He is like us.
Each morning, as God pulls up the sun, equal grace is poured on us all. On me. On you. On him. Although our opinions may be polarized, our voices may take up residence in different octaves; although our wrinkles may show years of wearing different emotions, GRACE has to win.
The difference, my boy, between you and the world is receptivity.
I know the day is coming when you decide that you don’t like me. The day is coming where you will roll your eyes at the way I fold underwear or organize groceries. The day is coming where you will dislike more than just yogurt fruit dip. You will grow. You will continue to journey around the sun with billions of other gleeful souls. You will continue to form wrinkles that paint stories of your emotions, continue to form opinions that shape your convictions, and continue to stand for things you love—be it Lego dragons or equality. We hope that regardless of the marching or mayhem or misfortune, you continue. We hope you continue on in grace, realizing that you do not have to be shaped by your leaders but can become one yourself. We hope you continue on in love, recognizing how worth it the heartbreak of commitment can be. We hope you continue on—to make it better, to make it right, to make it count.
Our trips around the sun are numbered, but your dreams don’t have to be.