This I Believe

Jamie - Lake Clear, New York
Entered on June 2, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that my son’s love for me, and my love for him, will save the world.

Our love will end war and terrorism, fill up bellies with good food and clean water, preserve and protect the environment, cure and prevent terrible diseases, and improve human rights conditions across the globe.

This may sound a bit ambitious for a three year old and his father to accomplish, but it won’t happen overnight, and we won’t be doing it all by ourselves. Parents and their kids the world over will all be doing their part to help us save the world.

The idea first came to me in a darkened hospital room in September of 2002. I was alone in the room, except for my 10-minute-old son, and we worked out the basics of our relationship as doctors and nurses helped my wife in the recovery room. He was small enough to cradle comfortably in my left hand, had one hand wrapped surprisingly firmly around my pinkie, and I loved him perfectly. I love my wife, but that love is complicated; there was a time when I didn’t love her, we were friends before we feel in love, and her independence and maturity make my love for her a pleasurable extravagance (she doesn’t NEED me around in order for her life to continue). I loved my son before he was born, so he has never known a minute in this world without that love. I knew that I had to do anything and everything to make the world a place fit for Ben.

My son knew me from the first moment I held him, trusted me to take care of him, and NEEDED me around in order to live hour to hour in the beginning (less so now, but the NEED is still there). From the first night in the hospital when he slept in my hands, gripping me tightly with those tiny fingers, he looks to me to: keep him warm and safe in a world he was (and is) a stranger to, make strawberry cocoa “the right way”, calm his fears in the black of night, fix boo-boos with my magic kisses, smooth over and mediate problems with Mommy or friends from child-care, and share in his victories and happiest moments. His love and need make me a better person than I would otherwise be.

Across the world, all fathers and sons experience the same bond that Ben and I share; we didn’t invent this love…and therein lies the hope and promise for the salvation of the world. Fathers (and mothers too, of course, but for the sake of continuity, I’ll just stick with fathers) need to, and will, realize that they are fathers first, before they are Christians or Muslims, “insurgents” or “promoters of democracy”, rich or poor, black or white…fathers all. My son can’t live in a world that destroys itself through hate or nuclear war or environmental pillaging any more than George W. Bush’s daughters, or Osama Bin Laden’s children, or the children of a mother in Nigeria (or Ireland or China or Brazil). If my son needs and deserves immunizations against childhood disease, and protection from avian flu, than so do all of those other children. If my son deserves to grow up free from child slavery or prostitution, than how can I hug Ben without at least trying to insure the same for those other children? Every son deserves the world that I want for Ben…and every father knows that, from the moment they first hold their son.