Sunday, April 09, 2006

My beloved Isaiah Jay,

In a mere two-and-a-half years I have watched you grow and change in incalculable ways Рaside from clich̩, superficial milestones such as first teeth and steps to fine motor control, I have watched you learn to think and speak. You have developed a personality and a heart Рperhaps there has been nothing more incredible and satisfying than watching you begin to care about things.

Since the days before we could carry on conversations about increasingly complex issues, I have worried about you. Not in any physical, over-protective way, but in a developmental one. I have worried you will become a monster. I have worried that my brother, your father, will poison you with his narrow horizons and mind. I have worried that you will marginalize women and homosexuals, that you will conform to rigid patriarchal gender roles, that you will absent-mindedly toss burger wrappers out your car window, that you will never second-guess some of the more subtle evils in my world, which show every indication that they will only grow and multiply by the time it becomes your world.

If it isn’t destroyed first. As I write this, Isaiah, my generation and my parents’ are waging a holy war which threatens to literally engulf the world in flames (made possible by our grandparents, who gave us the accursed gift of the atom). As stubborn, ignorant theists tear the world apart, I live in a nation whose government thoroughly believes in neo-imperialism and Pax Americana, driven by religious absolutism. I live under a government whose checks and balances have broken down, under a party who’s mutilated not only the founding ideals of the country but the ideals the party itself once supposedly stood for. A party who’s frighteningly effective at consolidating power and marginalizing criticism. A party who’s powers are expanding. Xenophobia and jingoism are no longer exceptions, they’re the governing norms. A perpetual war (or three) has eroded our civil liberties and taken away our legal recourse. Loaded language is the only language. Suspected terrorists don’t get arrested and charged – they get kidnapped and tortured overseas, disavowed by the supposedly noble system they’re allegedly threatening.

Corporations make money off the fear and war. They fuel violence, exploitation and neo-colonialism in peripheral nations to drive and protect their profits, encouraged by the very governments who should regulate them. Apathy extends beyond politics to consumerism. They turn a blind-eye or conjure up supporting pseudo-science to rebuff critics. They view the crisis as being what happens when we run out of natural resources, when we suck this planet dry – they ignore the fact that if we burn all the fossil fuels that we have already discovered, we will render our own planet uninhabitable. They level forests at alarming rates. The species extinction rate is faster today than it was in the waning years of the dinosaurs. It really is that bad.

But there is nothing I can do for you. I cannot raise you to be like me – there is nothing special about me, I am not enlightened, I am as hypocritical, bourgeois, ignorant and consumer-driven as everyone else. I cannot force you to believe one way. I can merely be an influence, one of many. I merely hope that the sweet boy who asks if I’m sick, gives me a hug then tells me I feel much better now will grow into an equally compassionate, effective, upright adult. I wish for you not only to know less suffering than we have, but to create much less than we have, and to undo some of that which has been done.

Just don’t turn into a monster.


Uncle Tony

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