This letter comes too late for my sisters and brothers around the world but it’s not too late for our children and grandchildren. We are living in an age of war and at this rate, generations will grow up without ever knowing what a peaceful life is. We can change that, but it starts with you – and it starts now.
I need you to teach your sons that teamwork is more important than competition, and that ideas can have more power than force. Teach your sons that women deserve respect, unequivocally, that consent is always a necessity and that physical abuse is never acceptable. Teach your sons to ask questions with an open mind and respect other points of view, even if they disagree. Teach your sons to stand up for what they believe in, but to never be afraid to change their perspective if they learn new information.
I need you to teach your daughters that it’s good to be confident, even cocky, when they have worked hard and accomplished something. Teach your daughters that they should never feel ashamed of their bodies or how they look. Teach your daughters that they deserve respect, unequivocally, and that consent is always a necessity and that physical abuse is never acceptable. Teach your daughters to stand up for themselves even if it seems everyone is against them.
Have hard conversations. Hear the other person’s ideas – don’t just listen. Act with empathy and understanding. Remember to differentiate between the actions of governments and those of individuals. And if you don’t understand a point of view, a culture, a tradition, a religion: learn.
We live in an age of war, but we also live in an age of knowledge and connection. Do your research. Ask your questions. Be unabashed in your quest for information. Be respectful of the answers you may find. Find your similarities and your differences with friends around the world, and learn to appreciate both.
Together, all of us can create ripples of change. Together, we can change what the future looks like, so our sons and daughters and nieces and nephews and grandchildren can live in an age of peace.
It starts now. And it starts with you.
Age 21, United States of America