This is a collection of thoughts that started formulating in my head towards the end of the last year. With everything that has happened recently—global pandemic, political violence, racial injustice, tiger king—I've been feeling a fair amount of anxiety over the world we are leaving for our children.
This list started as a way of organizating my thoughts and feelings about what my own kids deserve, but as I started writing—and recognizing my own privilege—it became clear to me that these are things that all children deserve.
To be clear, I don't have any answers here. I simply wanted to write down some of the feelings I've been having to help me better work towards creating the world I want my own children to inherit.
Our Children Deserve an Education
A high-functioning society understands the value of a well-rounded and foundational education. In an age of anti-intellectualism, anti-science, and "alternative facts," the risk of a willfully uneducated society is higher than ever. Our children deserve an unbiased education with an emphasis on logic, reason, and problem solving over rote-memorization. More than that, all children deserve not only equal access to education, but equal quality of education.
The neighborhood, city, county, or state you live in should not have any bearing on the quality of education our children receive. I can teach my own kids what their school fails to teach them, but what about the children without that same opportunity? Education is a right, not a privilege. Further, the goal of an education must be to elevate our society as a whole, not to simply check a "went to school" box for each individual child all call it good.
Children must always learn the "why" behind the "how."
Our Children Deserve Good Health
Health is more than just a collection of medical diagnoses, it is a fundamental right. Access to affordable, high quality healthcare should not be a sign of individual wealth, but a sign of a collective societal value. Moreso, the ability to make healthy decisions should not be limited by time or income. Our children deserve more than a fast food joint on every corner and easy access to sugar in every drink. They should not have to suffer from the proliferation of anti-science sentiment, anti-vaccine rhetoric, or anti-mask activism (thanks for that one, 2020).
Beyond physical health, mental health must be treated with equal weight. Our children deserve more than a future of wage slavery at the expense of their emotional well-being. This goes far beyond reactive treatment and into preventative programs.
Balance in life should be required curriculum, not an afterthought.
Our Children Deserve Justice
Our children deserve more than equality; they deserve a system that compensates for and eliminates social inequality so the concept of being unequal is not present. They deserve a society where their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, appearance, and other differences are celebrated, not abused. A society that does not raise up every person as equals is hardly a society at all. Our children deserve more than fear of being different, of being lesser-than, or of being not enough.
Our laws should be applied equally, and they should be under constant scrutiny for bias, unfairness, and uneven application. Further, it should be understood that "fairness" and "equality" are not the same as equal application, but equivalent application. Our differences matter just as much in punishment as they do in success, and those with more privilege and power must be held to a higher standard, not a lower one.
"Rights for me, but not for thee" must not continue any longer.
Our Children Deserve Safety
Our children deserve more than just feeling safe; they deserve actual safety. From discrimination, from violence, from injustice, from judgement... a society that does not care for its children is not one that deserves recognition. If the children are our future, then their neglect is the neglect of our own futures. It should be understood that safety means more than "law."
We cannot rely solely on punishing evil, but must create an environment that does not foster it to begin with. This starts with teaching respect for all, with instilling undying and unyielding acceptance of the personal right of each individual to exist in their own space and time without fear of violation. A society should not enable violence or abuse in any way, which speaks to how well justice is applied and even how well education is valued.
No child deserves to be a victim, but more than anything I want our children to never experience victimhood at all.
Our Children Deserve Privacy
Privacy is a massively undervalued right, but in today's hyper-connected world, our kids deserve privacy more than any generation before. We live in a reality where our data is bought and sold like baseball cards, and there is very little we can do about it.
Our children deserve better.
They deserve not to have every living moment documented and shared with strangers around the world. They deserve to become adults without the mistakes of their youth following them like a curse. They deserve a semblance of privacy in the face of unyielding privacy violations by governments and businesses alike. This is an incredibly difficult problem to solve, and one that too few are concerned with.
From schools to family members, our children have their privacy violated on a near constant basis, and for what?
Because they can't be trusted?
Are they any less deserving of trust than the generations before?
Or are they simply paying for the mistakes of their ancestors?
Our Children Deserve Individuality
None who have followed the crowd have ever achieved greatness, but those who have succeeded have done so as a result of the exploitation of other's conformity. Every child deserves to be a truly unique individual. Conformity is a tool used by the powerful to keep the weak in check, so our individuality should be celebrated to combat this control.
Our children deserve to live their truths without a society hell-bent on molding them into "one of us." Whatever that truth is, they deserve to have the freedom, safety, and opportunity to discovery it without he rampant manipulation of the controlling class. Our children must be taught to embrace their individuality, and reject norms. By truly highlighting our differences, we can learn to recognize the beauty in them, and teach our children to do the same. Most importantly, our children must learn to respect our differences, and recognize that a society is not made up of people who are "the same," but of people whoa re vastly different from one another.
Our differences make us one.
Our Children Deserve Stability
No child should ever have to worry about where they will have to sleep at night, or if they will have food to eat, or if their parents will be able to afford to pay the bills. Our children deserve stability in the most raw and basic sense. We live in a world where countless programs fail to provide stability for the children that need it most. Bandages slapped onto systemic problems that do nothing to stop the bleeding, let alone solve the root of the problems themselves.
Poverty, racism, sexism, injustice, and every other social bad in our society receive reactive solutions that at best may slow down their proliferation, but almost never stop or reverse the problem. Our children deserve a world that is built on a strong foundation of support, not a system where it is possible for the most marginalized to "slip through the cracks." In many ways, we as a society are failing our children, but in this way we are outright neglecting them.
Our children deserve better than to suffer in chaos at the hands of those who profit from their instability.
Our Children Deserve a Future
Late-stage capitalism and rampant consumerism have set the stage for the end of the world as we know it. Factory farming, under-regulation, and over-reliance on fossil fuels are slowly killing our world and, as a result, are robbing our children of a future that is rightfully theirs. From an acceleration of climate change to the proliferation of—the first of likely many—global pandemics, the world our children are growing up in will continue to look less like the world that we enjoyed as children ourselves unless drastic action is taken.
Our children deserve a future that is not poisoned by the choices of their predecessors. They deserve to have a future that sets them up for success, not just survival. We must change our relationships with the land and turn the "profits-at-all-costs" mindset into one that celebrates the proper stewardship of our world.
We do not own this Earth, we are merely the recipients of a great and generous loan that our descendants will have to pay back if we do not care for it responsibly.