A Letter- to my future child

15 Dec

My dearest child (who is yet to be conceived and born),

I woke up to horrible news that happened on the other side of the world, the part that I used to reside for a while. I hoped that it was just a heinous story that was made up by those sensational journalists who are fretting over the potential of their job losses. But no, the tragedy in Connecticut, whether I wanted to believe or not, happened, killing, wounding, shocking and permanently damaging dozens of people, including 20 innocent children who died in extreme fear.

My facebook updates (if this will still exist in your times, I’m not sure) were filled with those who are equally horrified as I was. Those who are parents, those who pray to God, those who criticize the lack of gun control in the country, and those who criticize lack of mental health policy, etc. etc.

I couldn’t help but thinking that many of us who talk about all these policy talks on gun control (both  pro and con) and mental health policies (“it’s not the gun control idiots, it’s the mental health policy, yada yada yada”), though important, are missing the point. Even as a previous policy students, I still see many things with my cultural anthropologist’s eyes. And at the end of the day, we must mourn for the culture of violence that we as humans -well, as adults- have constantly built up and masochistically enjoyed, NOT for the lack of list of regulations written on the rule books. And because of that, I greatly fear to bring you to this world, the world I have grown to detest for its gruesome reality and lack of humanity.

When I started to live in the US, a country that I spent my formative years, one thing that my family feared the most for me was the (perceived) prevalence of violence, you know, the kind that you see in Hollywood movies, easy access to firearms, racial bigotry/hatred and all the fear due to the unknown potential of being violated.

Many years later, I see no improvement, and I witnessed that certain things are even worse than Hollywood films. Some of the worst shooting incidents happened over the past several years, at universities, at a place of worship, at shopping malls and just a few hours back, at a school. Many lives, who could have contributed to making this world a more vibrant, perhaps a better place, were taken away. Such violence took away the innocence and hope, the faith that human beings can be “good,” from many of us.

I fear that I’m gonna leave you a world that believes that policy machines, systems and politics can fix such problems while certain policies are formed by those who are funded by interest groups who make profits by contributing to violence. Although I spent 2 years studying public policy, my conclusion is that policy alone is not enough. I’m often angered that those politicians endlessly debate on “the greater policy implications” and “procedures,” because meanwhile, the real narratives and dialogues that must happen -to heal, to change the culture and to bring changes- will get lost and be deliberately forgotten until another shooting incident, another rape, or another tragedy somewhere happens, which brings everything back to the policy cycle ground zero.

I fear everyday for my personal security, whether from the tangibility of the violence that may be imposed upon me -let it be the danger of war, mugging, sexual violence, pop culture’s bombardment of “ideal female images” which often make me feel ugly and powerless- or from the deep sense of inner insecurity that are caused by such potential violence.

I fear because I see many broken systems that don’t seek cure, healing and greater societal effort for holistic approach, but rather seek only endless nit-picking arguments, blaming, hatred-filled speeches, ugly politics that we have lost our faith in, and endless hurting of each other. We hide ourselves behind policy jargon and aggressive facade, while the media gradually fade the narratives away, chasing the next big thing.

I fear that violence everywhere will not cease to happen while girls are violated because they want to go to school, ethnic minorities do not have claims to live in certain countries, people get discriminated for whom they love, girls starve themselves because the society tells them that they are not beautiful enough unless they’re skinny, countries and groups go to wars in the name of peace and religion, violence is considered “real man’s nature,” destruction of nature is going on in the name of “development and progress” and the list can go on.

I fear that I’m gonna leave you and your generation the world in a worse shape where there’s no place for dialogues, justice, hope and healing.

As an adult, I feel that I’m gravely responsible for such tragic state of things. I have been busy blaming others, while I’m one of the guilty ones. I have consumed such violence that are flashed everywhere, but often failed to see the injustice and pain. I decided to look away even when I saw painful signs of social wrong, thinking, “Hey, I’m just a kid,” while in fact, I’m not. The culture of indifference which ignored to care about the others ultimately causes such culture of violence.

I’m not a parent yet, but one day I may become one, to you. I may not even understand a fraction of the pain of the parents who lost their children in this very incident. But I promise you today that I own up to the responsibility as a grownup, as a human being. I promise you that I will do my responsibility as a citizen. I won’t just stop at the state of being outraged and upset. I will continue to be vigilant, discuss and stay alert so that one day, I will be able to tell you that the world is indeed a better place than it used to be when I was in my teens and twenties.

I can’t be bulletproof to protect you from all the harms, but this much I promise you.



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