June 16th, 2002

Written on the eve of Fathers’ Day 2002 and sent to some close friends and family
I send this message to you because you are my closest, the people in whom I place my greatest trust. You are family, if not by blood (though most are), then by extension and by respect. You are also all potential fathers. As potential fathers, and on the eve of fathers’ day, I wonder for all of us whether this day holds significance beyond the noble (and much-deserved) tradition of honoring those men goodly enough to help bring US into the world. I wonder if it’s not a good time to reflect on what makes a good father, and, by extension, what makes us all good men. How can I take this opportunity that comes once a year and use it to my advantage, and to the advantage of any children that I may someday be lucky enough to have? Can I learn, through simple reflection, how best to earn, not demand, the love of my offspring? Is love enough to make a good father? Maybe it is. How about the ability to demonstrate, and thereby instill? Temperance, decency, honor, morality, love, fair-mindedness, openness, warmth, respect, competence–these are things that I have come to value, both through what I saw growing up and through what I’ve come to believe makes a person great in the eyes of those he loves. At some point, all that will be left of us will be in the memories of others. When that time is at hand, and even as those memories fade, we will have had a lasting effect on future generations, just as our fathers, grandfathers, and all the men up our lines have had an effect on us. I guess this e-mail is an invitation to reflect on how best to make the indellible marks we will leave positive ones–something that our children, not just ourselves, can be proud of, and better for. Thank each of your fathers for me, because in no small measure it is through them that you were forged, and through you that I have grown.