A Letter for 2023

I write my kids a letter every month. For the New Year, I thought I’d make parts of that letter public, and share my thoughts and some hopes for YOU in the upcoming year.

It turned into an article that’s a little different, a bit more informal, and might be a tradition that I’ll continue in the future.

2022 was a bit of a crazy year. The COVID pandemic is still raging strong. Our family had ups and downs. Haley got a day job. I rocked stay-at-home-dad life for the summer. We all got sick. And I had a few seismic shifts in my beliefs.

I want to talk about beliefs first. My anecdotal evidence is that most people don’t really think about their beliefs. They assume that their beliefs are truths, facts.

There is extraordinarily little in this world that is factual. Physics and math seem to be the only “truths.” Most other things are beliefs, trends, soft truths, or opinions.

Once you realize this, you’ll realize that you can believe what you want to believe, and so can everyone else. Once you realize that most other people haven’t even taken the time to look at their beliefs, you can have some empathy for them. They were pre-programmed by their parents, their local culture, and their immediate peers when they were growing up.

Some people shed the beliefs of their childhood and teens to figure out the world on their own. Most people don’t.

Here are some of my current beliefs that I had to figure out for myself:

  • Making money is a fun game. (Previously: Money is a source of stress and anxiety. Thinking of money as a game is much more useful and enjoyable.)
  • We deserve to have freedom from exploitation. The health of the whole is more important than the opportunities of the few. (Previously: The insanely rich are proof of what’s possible. Don’t be envious; work as hard or as smart.)
    • A note on the two above — I think hard work should be rewarded. I also don’t think anyone works a thousand times harder than anyone else. Unfortunately, unchecked capitalism rewards sociopaths. And in a system where capitalists can spend more money on lobbyists than the public…well…you can start to see the problem here.
  • If your beliefs hurt another person or group of people, you should rethink them. Or decide not to have an opinion at all. (Previously: I had some prejudices based on personal preferences that had absolutely NO effect on me whatsoever. In hindsight, I was an ass, even though I never expressed those beliefs other than saying I didn’t understand the beliefs of others.)
  • Learning is overrated. Action counts for infinitely more. (Previously: I need to learn more before I can do X. Now I’m a staunch believer that learning what you need to know while you’re doing a thing is much more effective. If I struggle with something, I turn to a book. I don’t need to read about something until I’m ready to do that thing.)
  • You can’t turn a blind eye to hate. You have to fight hate with your votes, your dollars, and by teaching the next generation. (Previously: I’m somewhere in the middle politically. I can see valid points on both sides. I don’t want to get involved because I can’t see a good side.)

These are just a few of the big shifts I’ve had over the last few months. The lenses that I’m viewing the world through have changed so dramatically that I’m becoming more involved with local politics.

I have been fascinated by exploring ideas that contradict my own. I’ve also been letting go of most of my expectations.

My only real expectation from my children is that they are kind human beings. Every day when I pick my son and daughter up from school I ask them about something nice they did for someone else through the day.

I still believe in the power of creation. The opposite of destruction. I may not cause any huge changes on my own. But my family and I can be a small part of the tide of creativity and kindness that makes the world a better place. Maybe you’d like to join us.

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