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25 July, 2010

A Recent Letter to Mom

Dear Mom,

When we talked yesterday, you were saying that the time you grew up in was the best, and you sounded pretty down about all the problems and pressures that your kids and grand-kids face. You seemed pretty convinced about it, and maybe more weighed down by the present than comforted by the past. Afterward, I felt a little down myself. Not so much because I think we missed out, but because I hate to see you sad like that.

I just wanted you to know that I also grew up in the best of times, and my girls are doing the same again. You and Dad loved us, gave us a great home, and did what you could to protect us and patch us up when we needed it. I'm trying to repeat that. Every generation does it again, because nothing really changes. I've spent decades now studying humans, cultures, and history, and it is pretty clear that people are people, no matter when, no matter where.

Things may look different on the surface, but if we have drugs, yall had moonshine. We have sex in the media, but women in your time couldn't do much about a grabby boss or cousin. We have Al Qaeda, you all had the Klan (the Good Old Days worked pretty well for Good Old Boys, but if you were black you wouldn't wanna go back). Maybe the past seems better because you were blessed not to be exposed to every problem of your era, which is something to be happy about.

I'm happy about when I was raised: good schools with air conditioning, lots of kids in the neighborhood, a time of plenty. I'm happy about when I am raising kids: good schools (living where AC isn't necessary), still plenty of good people, and more potential than ever for a girl. And in our family, every generation has had the love and support of their parents and grandparents, which is what matters.

So cheer up and keep the faith when you think about the world your kids and grandkids inherit. We'll all be fine.

Your Son

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