I won’t pretend to know the entirety of your life or the things you struggle with. I’m certain, in the absence of your father, grandpa has done his best to raise you as an upstanding young man. Listen well and learn from everything he has to say, my dad knows what he’s talking about more often than not.
I’ve seen you grow in a dozen pictures and it amazes me how time pours like sand through a bottomless bucket for those periods you wish would never end, but stands frozen for the bitterest of things. Remember this when your childhood is gone and you’re old enough to know regret.
Anyway, there are some things you need to know. Maybe you’ve already discovered them on your own, but I feel it is my duty as your uncle not to leave such things to chance. What I want you to know has nothing to do with race, though there are plenty of people who will argue otherwise. In this instance I’ll let your own experience guide your perspective. It is my hope, though, you’ll not divide the world into a black and white one. Be colorblind even as others are not, dear nephew, and you’ll be better for it. See people for who they are – not what they appear to be.
There are three things it is imperative you understand.
Prison is a black hole that sucks in anyone unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Do your best never to visit the wrong place. The penitentiary is full of people who make stupid, arrogant, irrevocable, and sometimes evil choices in their lives, but they’re still human beings. Whatever the cause, once you’re incarcerated it’s extremely hard to get out and stay out. Society will not make it easy for you to leave this pit where millions of lives are dumped and destroyed. Few are willing to teach the inhabitants a better way. Few are concerned with equality and justice. Do not think the system operating our country’s prisons is in any way for your benefit or the greater good of crime reduction and public safety. These false faces obscure the not-so-subtle purpose inherent in every government – dominance and control. Punishment has its place in our world, but it need not come with the price of disenfranchisement, total isolation and death. My first piece of advice is that you discover the answers to your “what ifs” without engaging in any crime. You will find that consideration toward the impact of your behavior goes a long way in avoiding prison.
Life is hard and full of suffering. Expect and embrace it whenever this occurs, but do not wallow in self-pity. Remember that even as you grieve your lot there is another who is worse off. Return to this thought as routine dulls the senses and blind you to circumstance.
Death is a final bastard, nephew. He cares nothing for mortal plans or life in this world. His sole purpose is to take and take and take some more. His touch is inevitable. Age, health, and religion are meaningless human constructs to Death. He is the balance of the abundant life on Earth. Be humbled by this great equalizer, because ‘here today gone tomorrow’ is not a cliché. It’s Death’s calling card. My second piece of advice, nephew, is that you live and cherish every moment, take no breath, joy, or sadness for granted.
There is a purpose for your life. Maybe you have found it. Whatever the case, know it’s a divine purpose. You are a single thread in a grand tapestry only God can see. You have value and your life has meaning even if you can’t fathom it. If you don’t believe it doesn’t matter – He has no need for your permission to exist anymore than Death. God maintains the scales, dear nephew. No matter how you identify Him or which path you travel to reach his throne, know the only existence where God’s light is hidden is the one where you’ve turned your back. Divide the human aspect of religion from the divine grace of God and you may come to know His will for you in this world. Seek, nephew, with all your heart, mind and soul. Strive to understand as much as you can for as long as you live and I promise you’ll be among the best of men.
This is my advice to you. It’s the best I can possibly give. I hope that when you read this letter in the years to come it enriches you in some small way.
With much love,
Your uncle Lyle