My innocent one, don't you know?
That's just one question of many.
Why do white men rule?
Why do black men die?
Why do baby girls get killed in the womb,
or raped and murdered outside?
Why do the poor have to be poor,
when the rich are so very rich?
You know some of your schoolmates have to have free meals.
Why do we treat animals, even worse than we do our own kind?
I hope we raised our children to ask these questions,
relentlessly, doggedly, repeatedly;
I hope you are braver than we are.
More empathetic, less apathetic.
I hope you care deeply and feel strongly.
I hope you protest, dissent, debate and oppose,
but also give, comfort, agree and respect.
I hope you always feel that you did your best,
but that you could have done just a little bit more.
I'd rather you sometimes felt honest incertitude in your beliefs,
than constant unwavering assurance in your rightness.
I hope you compromise, question, contemplate and endorse;
but also thwart, confront, negotiate and defy.
Does it feel like I'm asking too much?
I know you will do all these things, and more;
your thoughtful questions tell me so.
Our rules and laws and conventions, they
circumscribe us, but your desires and thoughts will be limitless.
When I get depressed (as I often do), that in the same week
that we launch astronauts into space,
we descend into hateful depths of racism and bigotry,
I am comforted by what you will do.
Only in optimism do we move forward.