I entered this online forum as a way to communicate with you. I wanted you to have a digital “diary” of my thoughts — in real-time.
I travel a lot and this affords me time to reflect on events, people, situations. I often find myself thinking about each one of you and what it must be like growing up in such a confusing world. I find myself thinking about those things I want you to know and while this isn’t an exhaustive list, they are my current thoughts.
Learn Patience. This is a quality that some are born with and one that others must seek to master. With one exception, I think each of you are in the latter category.
To be patient means that you are slow to anger, slow to react harshly, and slow to judgment. To be patient means you have mastery (to some degree) of your emotions and of the quickness of your retort. To be patient means understanding opposition or opposing positions. Patience includes the ability to forgive and to overlook perceived weaknesses. Patience includes the gift of listening and hearing those around you.
As you age, your interactions with others will undoubtedly test this attribute. I think it’s something you have the ability to control. Human interactions in the workplace, in school, in your community mandate civility (which is not the same as being a “doormat”), so the more you focus on this attribute, the better your interactions will be. Learn to be patient. . . to be understanding. This could be a quality that sets you apart in the world.
Learn Mental Toughness. Each of you are innately tough-minded, so I think there’s less to say here. I include it, however, because I need each of you to learn to stand on your own. You are bright children, with strong intellects, and standing your ground will come more naturally than you realize. Take time to learn “why” you believe what you do and be prepared to defend yourself. This quality will establish you as a leader and someone who cannot be trifled with.
There are fine lines between some of these characteristics, but as you get older you’ll appreciate the time when you are conscious of the interplay between these qualities.
Be Tolerant: This one is very difficult because our definition of the word “tolerant” is often at odds with much of the world around us. To me, tolerance means that you love the person even if you don’t like/approve of his/her actions. Tolerance means that you show respect to opposing views. Tolerance does NOT mean that you must accept those views, just that you respect the person’s rights to hold and express them.
In today’s nomenclature, this word is over-used and mis-understood. I’ve found that the segments of our society that “preach” the need for tolerance are the least tolerant.
Don’t be afraid to base your viewpoints on God, or on religion in general. Religion is being squeezed by the above mentioned “tolerance crowd”. You’ll be labeled “intolerant” if the basis of your opinion/viewpoint is religious, so combine this lesson with the attribute of mental toughness and be prepared to defend what you believe. You can do that, though, and still be kind and respectful.
Protect the Family. The family is central to God’s plan of happiness. This is a truth we learn at a young age in our culture, but society increasingly minimizes the role of family. Family — as an institution — has been under direct attack for many years. As you age you’ll learn to recognize the nuanced efforts to destroy the family.
Associated with this last thought is that you’ll each have families of your own. Your family unit MUST be the most important thing in your life. Don’t let recreation, professions/jobs, other relationships detract from your spouse and children.
I’ve got a lot more to say, but for tonight I sign off. Remember always my love for you.