We must choose good. Many times during the day we face a choice between taking the easy path, the incorrect one or the good one. Choose good. Just this simple act of taking a second to make the right choice, and doing that over and over again, will make you into the people you want to be, will create the world you want to live in.
The last few days our adult world has been grappling with the truth about racism in our country. When you are children, you see people of different colours and that is that. You don’t assume someone is kinder or more intelligent because they have brown skin or blonde hair. Unfortunately, this is not true with the adults and the media and entertainment around you.
Do you remember when we were watching the first version of the movie Annie? And the character ‘Poonjab’? At the time the movie was made, people thought this was funny. They thought it was funny to stereotype an entire group of people, in this case it was my people, Indians. The same goes for a movie like Breakfast At Tiffany’s where Mickey Rooney played Mr. I.Y. Yunioshi. There are many such instances through the years. As a society we are slowly understanding how hurtful these portrayals can be. Not always, but there is progress.
Perhaps you have overheard adult conversations where somebody will make a blanket statement like, ‘Yes, but they are so lazy! And they expect everything just handed to them!’. This is racism. Sometimes it is hard to detect because it is so covert or preceded by, ‘I am not a racist but…’ or ‘I have many friends who are black/asian/indian but..’. You cannot cover an entire group of people by a blanket statement. For one thing it is sheer laziness and the inability to use your intelligence to understand the issue at hand. Secondly, it is not okay. Choose good. When someone says something like that, stand up for what you believe is true. I have found that I cannot change people’s minds easily but I can let them know my opinion of their viewpoint and walk away.
Here is another thing I have told you both since you were very little – You will always know, in your heart, what is right. Everybody does. The difference is that some people don’t choose what is right and history has proven how awful that can be for humanity. Do you think that when European traders were kidnapping African children and adults and putting them on slave ships, that they did not know it was the wrong thing to do? They did. They chose evil anyway. Can you imagine our world if they had just chosen good? Even Thomas Jefferson, an intelligent, wise, well-travelled man, the President of our country, knew that having slaves on Mulberry Row, living in squalid conditions was wrong. But did he choose to free them? No, he did not. For all his accomplishments, for me, going to Monticello left me filled with great sorrow.
Choose good. Do it over and over again. In our family we have always said that if you get awards at school or sports, that is wonderful but for your Dad and me, the biggest rewards are seeing the both of you be good people. I don’t think there are certificates to be handed out for that, there is no way to measure it and it is highly subjective anyway. Some people are great at being good when they know others are watching. And some people are just quietly good, behind the scenes. They don’t do it for an award or reward, they do it because it is the right thing to do. They include people, they lend a hand, they share whatever they have, they say a kind word, they stand up for what is right. There is no fame or fortune guaranteed for being good but the feeling in your heart is more precious than anything money can buy.
It is really that simple. I don’t know why so many adults have lost their way. I don’t believe in ‘deeply held, ingrained beliefs’. No. The truth is we all know what is right and wrong. Sometimes it is just easier to choose wrong and unfortunately adults do it too often. For all the hopelessness I feel for my generation, for yours I feel so much hope. Keep on choosing good sweethearts. Maybe the adults will learn from you.
Love you so very much,