personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

A letter to my son (the original)

A letter written when my first born was two days old:
October 7, 2000

My Dearest Alexandre,

I love you with all my heart, and this love will grow with each passing day, each precious moment. You'll create your own special moments, Alexandre, but promise me you'll do the following:

  • Travel across Canada by road and admire the beauty your country offers you, from the twisting roads of Cape Breton, to the serene beauty of the Great Lakes, to the glorious vastness of the Prairies, to the magnificence of the Rockies, to the lush countryside of the West, and the eclectic and diverse buzz of your hometown Montreal;
  • Seek out new friends in the above travels, appreciate and celebrate your differences and similarities;
  • Chase little crabs on the beach in Martinique;
  • Take a trip through the Green Mountains in Vermont;
  • Swim in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, not to mention the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas;
  • Marvel from a plane at Mount Sinai and Mount Kilimanjaro;
  • Go through a rain forest and cloud forest in Costa Rica;
  • Buy expensive bottled water at a street cafe in Holland;
  • Gamble in Las Vegas (but just a little);
  • Kayak in the Pacific, white water raft down the Zambezi;
  • Drive through the streets of Tete, Mozambique, and be thankful that the streets are now paved and no longer bombed from civil war;
  • Give money to a guy on the street who looks like he needs it;
  • Visit my father's grave and tell him you love him even though he's never met you;
  • Go on safari in Africa as often as possible and admire the planet's most beautiful creatures while they're still there;
  • Go to Area 51 and search for aliens;
  • Paint a picture of something you love;
  • Have the courage to go to Malawi and say "Zonse zili bwino" to those in need - you will see many;
  • Go to the villages of Saag-balong, Woribo Kukuo, and Yipelnaayi and see if girls and women play significant, recognized roles in their communities;
  • Climb Mount Washington, Mount Marcy, and Mount Mulanje (but not in the same day);
  • Bobsled in Lake Placid;
  • Go through the Chunnel in a high-speed train;
  • Try to waterski better than your father;
  • Take a ferry from Italy to Greece;
  • Walk through the streets of Arusha, Tanzania, knowing that thousands of refugees from Zaire fled there to safety and that tens of thousands sought refuge there from killings in Rwanda;
  • Forget about the bad things people say about you, remember the good;
  • Have scotch and a cigar with a friend (but not for a while, son);
  • Walk the streets of New York City, but don't get shot at;
  • Walk to the rim of a crater in Central America;
  • Ride a train through Europe;
  • Dream to be an astronomer, a pilot, a fireman, a voice for social change in the world;
  • Travel to the Olduvai Gorge and view the birthplace of humankind;
  • See the Grand Canyon;
  • Go to Zanzibar and marvel at its beauty and meet its people;
  • Walk into the slave forts along the coast of Ghana and reflect on how evil and wicked people can be;
  • Write a play and direct it and star in it;
  • See the giant redwoods in California, and look up in awe at trees over 260 feet tall;
  • Scare yourself to death by trekking on the canopy walk in Cape Coast;
  • Make money and spend money, but remember that love is more important;
  • Eat peanut butter every day;
  • Appreciate Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future and strive towards it;
  • Go camping whenever you can;
  • Save a pigeon and nurse him to health in your toy box;
  • Dance, no matter how goofy you look;
  • Love your parents as much as we love you, and
  • Strive to make a difference in your life, the lives of the ones you love, and even strangers' lives each and every day of your life. You'll sleep better at night.
All my love, 
Dad



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