12/10/2014 04:20 pm ET Updated Feb 09, 2015

A Letter to My Unborn Child

Dear Baby,

I'm not gonna lie to you, this world is crazy.

There are killer viruses and killer terrorists running rampant. If the rapidly-changing climate doesn't wipe us all out in your lifetime, you will still inherit a world where rape-culture and racism are flourishing, as are the pressures of growing up in a technological thunderdome.

Sadly, your greatest enemy will be the human race... but it will also be your greatest ally.

While you will face people who wish you harm for the passport you hold, the religion you follow or the color of your skin, you will also know many people who wish you nothing but happiness and success. It turns out, there is a dark side and a light side to humanity, and the battle is raging.

Never before in our time on this planet has there been more information at our fingertips, more ability to control and manipulate our world or a speedier pace of life. You are entering a super highway, little one, and the on-ramp is short. I can't even begin to predict what will occur in your lifetime, but I know there will be both devastating catastrophe and triumphant achievement.

Given all of this, it sometimes feels insane to have created you. We wished for you to come into our family, to give us a sense of completion and lineage, to give your big sister a sibling. But those were our reasons for wanting you, not your reasons for being here.

You alone will have to determine your purpose, your unique gift to the world. And know this, baby, for every orphaned or abused child out there, we're gonna need people to reach out their hands with love and support. For every act of terror and brutality we commit against our own species, we need to sow seeds of healing and understanding.

To battle the dark forces amongst us, we will need an entire army of light.

As much as I want to keep you safe, to shield you from the realities of what humans can do to each other, I believe you are coming for that very purpose. Just as I feel the pain you will endure when you look upon images of children dying alone from preventable disease, I too feel the astonishment you will know when you see your first Humpback whale breech off the bow of a Mexican fishing boat. Just as I dread the day you truly comprehend torture, I long to see the day you come into your own power and voice. Just as you may be horrified by the ugly side of life, so may you be stunned by the awesome beauty of it.

And baby, whether you become a special ed teacher like your aunt, a war medic like your great uncle, an artist like your daddy or an activist like your mama, there are thousands of ways to join the legions of people contributing to a better world. It can be as simple as reaching out, one-on-one, to acknowledging and support someone near you who is hurting.

Your challenge will be to find your own way to add to the betterment of our planet, my challenge is to not let fear take over, nor ever stand in your way.

When I went to work in my first active war zone, I was 22. Naive and ignorant, armed with nothing more than a deep desire to help people, I saw things I could never un-see. Your grandparents must have been terrified, but instead of stopping me, they pushed me out of the nest and held a collective breath, while I attempted to fly. They overcame their fears so that I could move forward with confidence and learn to play my part.

And that is what I promise to do for you. Because, as your mom, my responsibility is not to keep you safe from the evils of this world, but to prepare you to confront them.

Maybe you'll save the Orangutans or discover a new way to treat cancer. Maybe you'll be able to imagine a better world and write it down for all of us to see; or perhaps you are the next great teacher in a long line of educators. When I look at the world today, I see huge challenges alongside enormous opportunities. Yes, this world is changing fast but our greatest talent, as humans, is our ability to change with it.

Remember tiny, we survived the last ice age.

So, I'm gonna level with you now, as your arrival is imminent. The world you're coming into is far from perfect and your life, no matter how blessed, will at times be painful and incredibly sad. There is a lot of work to do to overcome the hatred and conflict that plague our species. But with you in this world, I have the motivation and courage to keep pushing forward, if only to show you how to become your own agent for good. With you in this world, the future holds so much promise for humanity, underdog that it is.

So roll up your onesie my dear and know that I'll be right there beside you as we take on this bewildering, horrifying, ever-changing adversary called life together.

Your loving Mama,
Kiri Westby


Kiri Westby is a featured contributor to Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World by Ed and Deb Shapiro, with forwards by H.H. the Dalai Lama and Dr. Robert Thurman.
Click here to listen to Kiri talk about meditation and activism on