personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

Letters to My Sons

I used to travel a lot when my children were younger. While each trip away from my family for work was rewarding, it was also hard on all of us to be apart from each other. In November 2010, after spending many weeks a year for the past eight years travelling to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, I sat morosely in my squished airplane seat somewhere between home and Sri Lanka and thought of writing letters to my sons, trying to explain to them, using language they would understand, what my work was about. At the time, my children were 10 and nearly 8 years old.

Five years later, rereading some of the earlier letters, I realize I tried pretty hard to simplify things (sometimes too much, admittedly). Each letter has at least one "I'm a parent and giving you a lesson" moral, and the letters usually try to describe my surroundings and the people I meet. For the most part, these are the blog entries that receive the most positive feedback, and they do have a special place in my heart, so here they are, and may I hopefully continue to write them whenever I travel.

From Uganda, February 2017:
A Letter to My Sons: Eternal Good Evenings
Letters about trips to Gaza:
A Letter to My Sons: City of Dreams, Gaza (December 2014)
A Letter to My Sons: Clowning Around (July 2013)

On bullying, June 2012:
A Letter to My Sons: Promise me kindness

The original letter, written two days after my first son's birth:
A letter my son (the original)

On a friend's sacrifice in defending human rights in Bahrain, April 2012:
A Letter to My Sons: One Friend's Sacrifice

March 2012:
A Letter to My Sons: The Three Questions

A letter to mark Valentine's Day, 2012:
A Letter to My Sons: On Love and Hate

These letters were written during my first trip to Gaza in June 2011:
A Letter to My Sons: This Is Gaza
A Letter to My Sons: A Little Bit of Happiness

These first letters were written during a trip to Sri Lanka and Indonesia in November and December 2010:
A Letter to My Sons
A Letter to My Sons, Part 2: Uncivil War
A Letter to My Sons, Part 3: Uncommon Friends
A Letter to My Sons, Part 4: The Trouble Tree
A Letter to My Sons, Part 5: The Good and Bad Men Do
A Letter to My Sons, Part 6: Coming Home