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Avram Mlotek

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A Letter to My Daughter

Posted: 12/20/2012 6:04 pm

Dear Revaya,

When I came home the other day and listened to the radio as I was preparing dinner, I knew I would have to write you this letter. You're about to turn 6 months and it's powerful to think how much your presence has altered our daily lives. Your mother and I have forgotten what a full night's sleep even means and so too have discovered the beauty of a baby's giggle, your gentle laughs which we crave, and try goofily to prompt when the camera isn't on.

When I heard news of the gunman's rampage in Connecticut, I quickly went online, as if to have the information verified. When I saw pictures of children walking in line, holding each other's backs and hands, crying, and read the numbers of those killed, I broke down. Reality shaken yet again. The amount of gun related terrorist attacks in the U.S. in your short life has shaken us to our core. As our nation will undoubtedly dive into a question of policy and gun control, our conversation at home takes a quieter tone as an ancient question resurfaces for us, your first time parents. What type of world have we welcomed you into?

The environmental, political, economic and social conflicts of our time seem unparalleled. Maybe every parent feels that in every generation. Luckily for us, you often feel small enough that we can protect you from the news, the tabloids, hurricanes, and even random acts of violence. I can listen quietly when a 5-year-old kid asks her mother innocently on the uptown B train, "Why did that man get pushed onto the subway?" I still have many months of baby time, I say to myself. I can remain a bystander to the free parenting lessons the MTA offers, without having to consider what I might have to say to a curious questioning kid. And yet, there is the gnawing feeling that remains where I know I will have to answer that girl's question one day. To you. And what will there be left to say? Haven't parents been attempting to explain violence to their children for countless generations? Civilization works because people generally don't push each other in front of subways, Ravi, or open rifles in elementary schools and kill babies.

My grandparents, your great-grandparents, had similar questions having personally survived much more horrific circumstances, though comparing sufferings is futile. Your great-great-grand-grandparents, aunts, uncles and countless cousins graves are in the earth and air of Eastern Europe. You come from a people who have survived the worst type of unabashed hatred known to humanity. You're too young for all that, Ravi. I know. And yet, I can't help but wonder if one day you will read your history books and bring home your homework, and ask us why. Will you resent us for the world you entered?

And in the same breath, my baby girl, I know that if your mom and I shower you with enough love, guidance, patience and help you navigate as best we can, that when your questions do come whenever you're ready, you will know you have who to turn to in those moments.

I'm sorry our world is so broken and full of such violence, Ravi. One day we'll read the story of Cain and Abel together and see that the seeds of violence date way back to the beginning of the Bible. That may not offer you much comfort, knowing that Cain's fire is still burning, and yet, you'll join a club, in a way. A club of those who feel the darkness of the world deeply, and yet, don't give up. You'll join the ranks of those who push themselves to bring a little bit more light into our world. You'll be part of those who see the problem and they problem solve, more than they critique and negate. You will see the plethora of world problems that will inevitably surround you and you will find a way to be part of the solutions. And when you start looking for solutions and surrounding yourself with positivity, you'll see that it can be infectious. You'll be part of a tradition that believes tomorrow can be a better day, that starts each morning with a thank you for restoring life, for giving one more chance. And you'll be disappointed too, but you'll have faith.

Above all else, I bless you with the power to believe -- in yourself and in human kind, to believe that the world is worth changing, that you can change the world, and that light must defeat darkness. You are our living proof.

Love,
Your Tati

 
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