Culture

A Letter to My Grandson

(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Dear Grandson,

Every time I see you, it is an explosion of joy. I rocked you as a baby in my arms and took you to playgrounds, splash parks, and Easter Egg hunts. I played Army men with you in the backyard.  We hunted zombies and slayed dragons. We went to baseball games, and words cannot describe how proud of you I was the day our minor league ball team let you hit a few and the way you smacked two doubles in a row. I am and will always be indescribably proud of you and forever grateful that God chose to put you in my life.

I have but two regrets. The first is that I don’t see you as often as I would like. The second is the world that my generation has bequeathed to yours.

You have inherited a world of chaos, misinformation, anger, and manipulation. You will come of age in a world that is focused solely on itself. A world that seeks to satisfy its basest pleasures. A world that lives for the here and now, and lives for nothing more than the moment. As time goes on, you will meet people that will tell you that you are not a person of value because your skin is not dark enough. They will tell you that you are responsible for things of which you had no knowledge and in which you never participated. They will try to force you to surrender yourself to a wicked cauldron of hate and self-deprecation and deception.

Please do not surrender.

I have yet to tell you about your great-great-great grandfather. He left his home in Indiana to fight for the Union in the Civil War. Sadly, his letters home are lost, but I had the chance to read a few of them. He talked about “this iron hail” that flew over his head day and night, and how exhausted he was trying to take a single hill from the Confederates, day after day. You don’t know how he had his leg sawn off in a field hospital all because he wanted to set people free and preserve the United States of America.

I have yet to tell you about your other relatives in Indiana who were part of the Underground Railroad and who helped move escaped slaves to the north, covering the wagon wheels and horses’ hooves with cloth, just in case there was someone nearby that might betray them.

I have yet to tell you about your great, great uncle who flew against the Nazis in the Second World War. I still have his pilot’s scarf, which I hope to pass on to you when you become of age.

I have yet to tell you about your great grandfather, who, despite his flaws and naivete, marched for civil rights in the 1960s.

You know little of your grandmother, a nurse who stood tall and fought COVID-19 when little-to-nothing was known about it, and who even as I write this is still fighting that battle. And that is to say nothing of the lives she saved and changed prior to the pandemic to the point of complete and total exhaustion some days. A woman who sometimes comes home at night covered in the blood of the innocent and victimized. And somehow rises before dawn the next day to do it all over again.

And yes, I fought a few forest fires and went on some HazMat calls.  But I’ll wait to tell you those stories of “high adventure” in person sometime in the future.

You come from a long line of people who certainly had their flaws, but who realized that there was something greater to which they needed to commit themselves. People who despite their shortcomings, sought duty above all else. And that is my prayer for you.

My prayer for you that is that you will rise above the sound, fury, and utter nonsense that is part and parcel of today’s world. My prayer it that you will reject the parasites and sycophants who will tell you that because of your skin color or gender you are guilty of crimes that you never committed or, for that matter, never dreamt of committing. My prayer is that you will not succumb to the voices telling you to destroy yourself for a world that cares nothing for you. My prayer for you is that you will not be led to burn, but to create. My prayer for you is that you will grow up to be an honorable, compassionate, and dignified man.

The Apostle Paul said, “Meanwhile, these three things remain: faith, hope and love.” My prayer for you is that you will cling to these three things through the stormy seas that have regrettably been left for you to navigate. I grieve that you have been left a world in such tragic disarray. I and others like me will do what we can to set things right before our time is done. But it is in you that our hope lies.

With All My Love,

Your Grandfather