**Author’s note: The day of the shootings, I posted a version of this letter on my Facebook wall. I was flooded with responses from others across the world who connected with the message, so decided to reach out to the elephant community as well.
May it be of benefit.
Be careful, son.
I had a flood of emotions upon hearing of the shootings in Orlando. My heart goes out to everyone there, as well as their families, friends and communities.
This is a senseless, hateful crime that defies comprehension. Along with outrage, concern and heartbreak, I had fears. Fear for the progress we have made as a society, and fears for your safety.
Why did this happen? Aren’t we winning this battle? What if something happens to you?
I wanted to yell: Be careful, son! I wanted to withdraw somehow, to keep you safe; protect you. But somewhere inside of me, as your Mom, I am crystal clear this reaction is exactly what the enemy is counting on.
The only way to truly keep you safe is to not withdraw, or react with fear.
So please be careful, son. Be careful of veiled “concerns” for your safety that oddly validate and give power to hate and division. This wasn’t only a crime against the LGBT community—this is an attack on all of us; our freedom to be. If I project fears that cause you to lose confidence in yourself, or subtly encourage you to hide your light under a bushel—“for your own good”—I’m not being a good mom. I’m caving into hate, and revealing remnants of my own insecurities and flawed thinking.
If I do this, it’s the equivalent of saying: “Don’t be too different, son. Blend in. You aren’t safe to gather with friends to celebrate life and love. It’s okay to be gay, son…just not too gay.”
But this is such a mixed message. On one hand, I seem to have your best interests at heart. But the underlying directive is clear: don’t be you. This would be me suggesting that there’s something wrong with you, and that to be safe, you must modify your life.
This is like me telling you to suppress aspects of yourself to conform and fit-in—so that you aren’t hurt.
But this is wrong. It’s like keeping a beautiful, talented bird in a cage, because the world is dangerous. Nothing bad happens to the bird. It’s safe—I’ll give you that. But the bird lives a half-life, never learning what it is capable of becoming, changing and doing. It dies useless and heartbroken with all of its gifts and talents still on the inside, and the world is robbed of its beauty and potential—its purpose.
In the end, who is the real criminal: the potentially dangerous society and what “might” happen, or the well-meaning one with the cage? Birds are meant to fly, son. And, so are you.
My greatest fear is not for your safety. My greatest fear is that this will in any way keep you from being all you are meant to be.
Do be careful, son. Be careful not to let this change one thing about you or how you go through life.
You have incredible gifts, talents and a unique purpose for your life—and to be all that you are intended to be, you must show up as the full expression of who you are. Nothing less.
You are an exceptional human being, and the world needs you.
Please be careful to not let anyone or anything make you small.
My wish for you is the same as for your siblings: play large.
Proceed confidently in the direction of your dreams. Stumble, and get back up. Be all you are meant to be. You are entitled to a wonderful life full of success, beauty and love.
Go and get it.
But do be careful, son. Be careful in your resistance to let the actions of a small group be a reflection of society as a whole.
The world is evolving and changing for the better, and we’re a part of this. There is an energetic shift, an opening of hearts, an awakening of Spirit occurring on the planet. Love and truth are coming on strong, breaking down the illusion of our separateness. But change is hard, and it creates fear. Some are threatened by this energetic shift, and cling mightily to their differentiation. In response, there’s been an escalation of hate crimes and acts of terror meant to inspire fear and reciprocal hate—and ultimately perpetuate division.
I urge you to see this not as a sign that we are losing, but more as an indication of how close we are to winning. Humanity, our collective consciousness, is in the process of giving birth to a higher version of itself; and the birthing process is painful, messy and difficult.
But make no mistake about it, the re-birth is coming.
Finally, please be careful, son, not to respond with hate.
It is counter-productive, and feeds the very animal we are fighting against. It’s okay to be angry. I’m angry, too. But don’t let this change you in the ways that matter most. Stay true to yourself and your pure, beautiful, brave soul.
The only way out is love. The only cure for hate is love.
It is a privilege to be your mom. I’m proud of you, today and every day. You have more compassion, strength of character, resilience, courage and authenticity than anyone else I know.
Stay strong. Stay true. Stand fearlessly.
I stand with you.
Your dad, brothers and sister, family and friends stand with you.
We all stand with you.
We will not back down.
Love will prevail.
With Mike Gold, William Gold, Avery Gold and Bridger Boedecker
Author: Katie Boedecker
Image: via the author
Editors: Renée Picard; Yoli Ramazzina