“‘Dad. Why did you bring me into this world?’
One day, I will be asked this question. And, I will not know how to answer it. I simply do not have an answer for it. He will ask me one day, probably sooner than I would like, ‘Dad, you knew the world was falling apart. You knew the destruction was too much to fix. You knew there was no hope anymore, that every generation here on in are condemned. You knew. Why did you bring me here?’
I know he is capable of changing it, but he knows that this is not his burden to bear. When he asks, he will know I forced it upon him by bringing him into existence. I helped, collectively, to create this pain, destruction and disaster then selfishly brought him to life to saddle him with this impossible fate.
How do I tell my son that I was selfish?
How do I tell him that my want to experience fatherhood was greater than the responsibility I should have had. He will ask me this because he knows I am intelligent. Because he knows that I am a leader among my community, and that I am someone he and my little town look to for truth, for direction. He will ask me this because he trusts me, even though nothing in that question elicits such; He trusts me even though I suspect he understands that, just by merely bringing him to life, just by conceiving him, I have severed the bond of security he could have ever had for me. With me.
I try talking with him now, to maybe explain a justification to him before he gets to that point. I try to teach him that it is not too late. That we can make changes, and we can take steps and that, little by little, we will chip away at the problem and make this a better world. I try to pave a path of consciousness for him, of awareness. To encourage him to be the change the world needs. But, I know at some point, he will resentfully reject this. Self-loathingly, I hope he does so, because I want to be proud of him. But, when that moment of ‘pride’ arrives, I know I will only have shame, because I will not have a pure and honest answer for him. I will not have a believable answer for him.
I tried to believe in the hope of youth, as I was taught. I still try. And I try to teach and encourage, as my career dictates. But, I know I do not lead by example, only with words, just as my father did with me and his father with him. However, they believed in their hearts that what they were doing was right. I knew I wasn’t. I know I am not. I know it was the ultimate act of apathy to bring him and his sister into this world, and when he asks me this dreaded question, I will know he is asking because he understands this too.
‘You place hope in me when you take no action yourself. Didn’t you have hope at my age? Didn’t your parents say You will be the ones who will make things right? Who will change the world? And what happened? The pressure became too much, dad, right? You realized the world was too big. And you gave up. You all did. And created us to pass the burden on to. What you have created, what your parents have created, what your grandparents have created is not finished and in the past, to be simply fixed now. It is still ongoing. Faster. Greater. How can one generation withstand so much pressure without being broke at some point? We fight now, but, we are not up against what has been. We are against a destruction that is. We are up against You. We are up against Tradition and Habit. We have the fire of youth, but the winds of age are too strong.’
Maybe I brought him into this world because I really did naively think that he would fix the mistakes I cannot stop myself from making; that he would inspire me, teach me. Because that is what my parents believed, and although I was not strong enough, I still believe he is. Can I tell him this? That our mistakes, our false beliefs just keep mindlessly getting passed down? Because life just gets too overwhelming? That, at some point, he will be no different than me (if he gets the opportunity) and will pass on the same false hope to his kids? Will I be able to look my son in the eyes and tell him that I did not start this fire but, since I could only seem to fan the flames hotter and stronger, I needed to create him in order to throw him into the crucible with me? Maybe to appease my guilt? Maybe to hear him justify these habits of mine?
How does a parent, a teacher, a mentor, tell a 12-yr-old that the entire world is waiting for them to be our leaders, because we have experienced too much life to be that for them? How do I make him understand that the light of hope has not been extinguished, but we ‘mature, responsible adults’ have nothing left in us to fuel it with? No more wind to grow the flames of optimism? That habit is our devil, fueled by a lifetime of entitlement with never a glimpse of consequence to our gluttony?
We all may have had good intentions, but what will my answer be when he asks me, ‘Dad, why did you bring me into this world? Knowing I was only going to be sacrificed? Knowing that I will have to suffer with every breath for your mistakes?Knowing I would never get to live a full life? A better life? The life you got to live?’”