Son, as I watch over you as you slumber blissfully, I am filled with joy … but also with concern. You see, as a first-time father of a child born into the era of COVID-19, I can’t help but think of the darkness gathering outside the door. Just as you entered this world, businesses were being shuttered, social tensions raged, schools closed, church services were banned, forest fires ravaged the countryside and cities are still under siege by a wicked new brand of riotous politics.
I can’t help but worry about your future.
Who knows what America, indeed the world, will look like when you come of age and must fend for yourself. But while you are steadfastly under my wing, son, sleep peacefully. I offer you these three vows.
1. I will keep you safe from physical harm by whatever means necessary. I will arm myself with the finest tools that my birthright allows, for sometimes fire must be fought with fire. I will train with those tools until I am proficient, and I will exercise my power as a voting American citizen to make sure our rights are preserved.
Regretfully, you will learn one day that despite your kindness, you may not receive kindness in turn. The hard truth is: Not all people in this world are good. Some would tear you down to take what’s yours, while others would spite you merely for who you are. It is your God-given duty and inalienable right to protect your life. And here’s a little secret: Gaining the ability to do so will not make you distrustful of your fellow man; rather, it will grant you the confidence to trust everyone until an individual is proven untrustworthy. In other words, I’ll teach you to seek the good in people, but to prepare for the bad.
2. I will teach you the ways of nature and the outdoors, so that you may know how to provide your own sustenance. Without this basic knowledge, one can easily become dependent upon others for livelihood. Without independence, personal pride is lost and dignity dies.
I will teach you how to hunt deer and ducks, turkeys and elk—and also how to respect them; I’ll show you how to catch fish in summer and to harvest in the fall; I’ll teach you how to build a fire if ever your cooperative’s power leaves you in the dark, and how to provide for your family if ever they are in need. While you may choose a different path—and if so, I will support you—I believe you’ll discover great peace of mind in the simple things such as unfiltered stars, a family fed by your own hands, and a campfire that can never be snuffed by any hand other than your own.
3. I promise I will do my best to instill in you the values that helped forge the greatest country the world has ever known. You see, our America is extraordinary not for its unrivaled standard of living for all—but rather by the free and happy peoples that made it what it is, and who call it home.
I will make sure you realize that you have hit the human equivalent of the Texas lottery when you were born unto American citizenship. Indeed you gained the right to be free, to love and to pursue happiness the moment you took your first breath. But son, you should also know that nothing is free. The price of your American birthright must be paid by standing up for your country, pitching in for the greater good, hard work, and being willing to sacrifice if called to do so. I promise to you that I will do my best to teach you, by example, how to become a good man, and to take advantage of the extraordinary place in time you’ve been afforded, so that in time you can fulfill your loftiest dreams.