Dear Little Chow: The world is yours to make better.
To my daughter, Little Chow:
I first traveled outside of my country when I was 18.
But at age 3, your world is already so much more advanced, and yet more complicated than the world I inherited.
You have already touched more than 10 countries.
I lived more than half of my life before the internet and email came and took over my life; you were born into social media. Mama and I collected hundreds of Likes on Facebook when we announced your entrance into the world.
Assuming all goes well, you are going to be a first-world child, and this is great.
But I’ll be honest: Sometimes I worry about this too.
Mama and I both have jobs, and you are fortunate to have lived way above the poverty line. You have not experienced famine, war, instability, malnutrition, and homelessness. When we go shopping, we can always buy something, however small it is. We love it when we see you running around in the courtyard of our home. It gives us comfort that we are doing well as parents, and we hope to provide that oasis for you as long as possible.
Right now, you are still on the inside of the glass.
I certainly hope for you to live a good life. However, I also do not want you to grow up feeling this is normal — and, worse, feeling you are entitled to this way of living.
700 million people live in poverty today, and millions are affected by conflict, poverty, and natural disasters. The world is imbalanced.
But I don’t want you to be merely happy as you grow up. I also want you to be a compassionate, understanding, and, ultimately, useful human being,
What can we do about this? I will bring you into the world.
Before you entered my world, my life looked different. It involved travels around the globe, extreme outdoor adventures, and understanding global inequality through my personal work. My life has mellowed a little since you came around, and that’s a good thing.
But I hope we can continue to adventure together. I have brought you to the wilder parts of the Great Wall of China for weekend hikes. When we subject you to a challenge, without feedback from society or peers your age, you don’t know your own limits and you surpass our expectations. You appreciate the nature, the flowers, the climb, and that made me happy.
I want a child of mine to love nature so she can grow up to be in love with the Earth we live in, beyond her own small world.
I will bring you to Everest Base Camp come this fall. We will walk together when you can, and I am prepared to carry you up when you feel weary.
In your life, during travels and long days, I promise to guide you along and be a friend and a companion.
I don’t want to outsource this portion of parenting to a professional, an institution, or someone else. As a father, I love the challenge, and it is a privilege I will cherish.
All these things I will teach you before you go to school. Then from there, I hope you can learn to be a citizen of the world.
This is my personal promise to you: I will teach you about the world so you know where you stand.
You will be a first-world child, and I hope to teach you to understand what that means and entails.
And I promise to keep including you in my world — to walk along and to grow with you.