Baltimore writer Elizabeth Hazen confesses (and reconsiders) an ancient crime.
Some mornings my son, nearly six and a half years old, wakes up raging over the injustices of the world: Why does he have to eat green vegetables? Why does everything he wants cost “too much money”? Why doesn’t his dad live with us? Why, as he once phrased it from his booster in the backseat of our car, is life so hard? Devastated that I had failed already to guard him from this truth, I had little comfort to offer. Finding my own life a series of difficult navigations and compromises that leave all parties feeling deprived, I have struggled throughout my adult life to reconcile the lessons I learned as a child – all dreams are achievable, hard work always pays off, people get what they deserve – with the reality of my experience. The science of these teachings, quite simply, doesn’t play out. So what, then, do I tell my son? That intentions don’t matter? That the universe is random and our place in it negligible? That it is virtually impossible to predict what will happen, and even harder to know what will make us happy?