My darling. You don’t know it yet, but this has been a momentous year – a year that historians will reference as a point of global change. You were only a few days old when 137 people were killed by terrorism in Paris. We have seen hideous atrocities committed in both Syria and Yemen. In June, the British people turned their backs on Europe and, spurred and stirred by the media and the politics of blame, Americans have just – literally – voted in Donald Trump as president.
One or two of these events will have more of a direct impact on you than the others. But the hate-filled language and rhetoric we’ve heard from both sides of the Atlantic is already having an impact, dividing us and giving rise to discrimination and mob mentality. As a mother of sons the potential longer-term consequences are terrifying – and that’s why I’m setting out a promise to you.
I promise that I will do my best to raise you to:
Respect women. Women are not a minority and nor are they the subject of ‘locker-room talk’. Women are your equals. Listen to them, value their opinions and their friendship and fight their corner on sexual discrimination and harassment.
Understand that knowledge is power, more so than ever in our information-overload society. Sensationalism sells. Media editors have agendas. So educate yourself: read widely, be curious and critical, think before you share – and harness that knowledge, that power, for good.
Tread lightly on our planet. There is no evidence that having more stuff makes us happier human beings, but there’s plenty of evidence that incessantly buying more stuff feeds cruel regimes, drives own standards of animal welfare and has a huge negative effect on our planet. Mr Trump may disagree, but I’m with the 97% of climate scientists who agree that climate change is likely due to human activities. And I can help and encourage you to tread lightly, invest ethically, love nature and do your bit to minimise that legacy.
Turn your back on hate. Brexit and the US election got really, really ugly – and with some European elections coming up that mood is set to spread. Thanks to your heritage you’ll still be a European citizen but, more than that you are a citizen of the world (whatever Teresa May says). Turning inward is not the answer. As a white male you will in a privileged position to call out discrimination and abuse. Be fearless; and be the change that you want to see.