02/06/2012 01:25 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2012

Welcome to Life, James

Welcome to life, James.

I became the proud grandfather of James, 9 lb. 2 oz. last Thursday (Jan. 25). My grandson is the first son born to my son David, and his wife, Gina. I popped a bottle of Champagne to share with co-workers at lunch. (That's the first time I have ever done that.) As I showed pictures of the little guy from my cell phone, I was as proud as any grandpa could be.

I've already started to wonder what life will be like for James. He will turn 21 years of age in 2033. He will retire by 2082 at the age of 70. He will live all or most of his life in the 21st century.

In the next several years, as I put James on my knee and we dream about his future, what myths will I tell him? How will I describe what opportunities lie ahead? Will I tell him to study hard at school, go to college and get a degree or two so he can get ahead? That story worked for me but I know it does not work like it used to.

Will I tell him to blame the illegal immigrants for stealing low-wage jobs from American workers? Will I tell him our country went downhill because the government allowed gays to marry? Will I tell him that poor people are poor because they don't work hard enough?

None of these tales will help him grow. He needs a dream to live by that is true, and hopeful.

Maybe I will tell James something like this:

We live in the "world as it is" but we "need to work together to make it the "world as it should be." We are a big melting pot of different races, classes, sexes, ages, cultures and peoples. If we want to get ahead, we need to learn how to work with everyone. If we want to get ahead, we have to make sure everyone else can get ahead. If we want to get ahead, we cannot let some of us have a head start.

The "world as it is" is not always fair. We have to make it fair. That will take work.

To become better off than his granddad, James won't need to get a big car and bigger home. What he needs is for David and me -- for all of us -- to make this a better country for everyone.
world as it is, world as it should be.