It's your birthday again and you're 16.
Many places on this planet, young men and women are celebrated and welcomed as adults when they turn a certain age. You're not an adult yet but 16 is a milestone. And we don't have any significant ceremony for you. But we adults recognize the turning of the wheel of the year in your young life.
From my heart, I have wishes for your future. Of course, I hope you enjoy health and happiness in the years to come. And that you learn to skillfully navigate disappointments and sorrows for they will surely come as they do in every human life.
Most of all I wish for you to become a kind and compassionate man, a man who knows how to be vulnerable and tender. I wish for you to find love for yourself. I wish for you to be respectful of girls and women, for those less fortunate, for those different from you. As you come into your place in the human community, awakening to your privilege as a white man cannot be denied. I wish for you to use that privilege to move the needle for those who have no voice because they are Brown and Black, because they are immigrants, or Queer, or just down on their luck. When faced with suffering, we can choose to harden our hearts or let our hearts break into action.
Yes, you're still a kid. But your manhood is coming soon. You've had great good fortune to be raised with loving parents. You've not known homelessness, hunger or discrimination. You can choose to make your life one that is full of good works, good deeds. Because you see clearly see the needs and you are compelled to respond.
You and we can't fix the world. But your words and actions have an effect. This is true. There is so much that is ugly, terrible and sad and it will always be so. But there is beauty and compassion everywhere. Choose that. Choose to make use of your life. For justice and love and kindness. Be a mensch, dearest one.