Dear Little Issac,
It may be a small thing that many of us adult took for granted, but you’ve asked Daddy a very significant question yesterday. I would like you to remember the lessons and learnings from that very simple question.
We were at the playground and you’ve asked Daddy, “why does the little boy have blue eyes?”. That was probably one of the first time that you’ve looked at another kid and noticed the difference in how they looked from you.
Daddy tried to have that conversation with you when you were around 4 years old, and I’m sure you don’t remember what your response was. You responded with a question “What was the difference?”! To you as a 4 year old kid, you didn’t see any difference between you and the other kids.
Daddy was so proud of you when you said that. It was an answer that I think many adults like me would struggle to come to. And, my wish at that point in time was for you to never lose that perception of the world.
We don’t live in Utopia, and the world is a much more complex place. Judgement, biasness, and perception will kick in as you grow up and you will start to see the world in a different way.
Daddy wants you to know that the world is a very big place, and I don’t think we can truly comprehend everything that goes on around us. I want you first to be proud of who you are and form your own identity. Your heritage and where we come from is a large part of who we are, and I would like you to recognize that.
At the same time, I would also like you to learn to appreciate the differences in people, to accept the diversity of the world around you.
Your world will be a different one from that of Daddy’s. We will also see things differently, and that’s ok. If there’s one thing that you absolutely need to know to navigate this confusing place, it is to keep being the curious boy you’ve always been. Continue to learn about everything. Even if you think you’ve known it already, keep asking more questions and keep exploring. You never know what you’ll find, and I’m sure you will continue to be amazed.
You will grow up to be a big boy soon, and Daddy may not be the best role model for everything. What’s more, you should never expect that Daddy will be around forever to explore this beautiful world with you. You will find new companions, friends, and people to learn from.
Exercise judgement and be brave to stand up for what you believe in. The world is not only a confusing place; it is also a crazy place. Not everyone who is seemingly successful, or in position of power and leadership is right. They do make mistake at times, and many times they may not share the same beliefs as you. Do not be afraid even if your voice seems too soft to make a difference. Even if it is a small gesture, it may mean the world to that one person you’ve stood up for.
Finally, be true to yourself, learn to accept others for who they are, see the beauty in people, culture and everything else for what they are. Diversity is like colours in a rainbow, it’s beautiful when they come together.
For the rest of the readers who may think that I’ve gone cuckoo with all these blogs of letters to my kids, I assure you that I’ve not. (I hope!)
I do read my letters to my kids and one day hope they know where to find them.
I spend a considerable amount of time talking with them, and in fact learning a great deal from them and their amazing mind in the process. As I explore some of the modern-day challenges and issues on topics such as diversity and inclusion, I felt that a lot of these issues are caused by our own perceptions and bias opinions over the years.
When left “untreated”, this biasness can manifest into some serious discrimination issues. This problem can be magnified when a bias individual is put into a position of power or leadership. With authority, serious damages can occur.
Personally, I felt that to stamp out discrimination, it must come from within. For me, I find that doing self-reflection like this worked best for me. I learn to see things through a child like perspective, and that often make things a lot clearer.
Discrimination happens all the time and it’s all around us. I’m sure many of us would have stories to share. Some have extensive media coverage and we all can see the problem. While it saddens me to hear the stories, I don’t think there is a silver bullet solution. I don’t have a solution to solve for world peace, but I will continue advocating for diversity and inclusion ways that I can. As much as possible, to raise sensible kids that will contribute to the solution and not the problem.
For those who’s still sober, fascinated and/or awake after reading this much, I thank you and welcome your comments. Do do your little bit to make this world a beautiful place in ways that you can.
Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.