Dear Mr. and Mrs. Government,
You’ve seemed stressed lately. You’re grouchy, short-tempered, and inattentive. I don’t blame you, though. See, I’ve been watching you lately and I think I know why you’re so grouchy. With your permission, I’ll explain.
At long time ago, long, long before I was born, things were simpler. You reigned in remarkable simplicity. You ruled, you guarded, and you guided your people. You were not perfect, but you did your best. You were healthier back then, you smiled more, and people liked hanging out with you.
Then, one day, one of your charges came across a problem they could not solve. Whether it was weakness or poverty or ignorance, this poor person had hit a wall they could not get over. So you decided to help them. I don’t blame you; this man was under your care, thus you felt responsible. I dare say you did the right thing.
But then your eyes were opened. You saw men like this everywhere and women and children, too. All races, genders, and creeds; hardship discriminates not. And they were yours. You had to help them, you had to. They were far too numerous to count, but they were your brood.
So you paid this bill, co-signed for this car, issued a loan to start a business and forgave when they couldn’t pay it back. You tried to take the yoke off their back, for a little while, at least. Give them the strength and energy to do what they needed, and one day, you would give the yoke back.
But they didn’t want the yoke back, did they? Their shoulders grew comfortable, and when you tried to share the burden, they grew angry. “It’s yours! You carry it!” They cried. They forgot that they had once carried any yoke at all. We forgot. I forgot.
Now you carry the weight of a hundred million yokes on your back. Your spine is sore, your muscles cry for respite, and the splinters draw blood with every step. But there is no rest, for you must still rule, still guard, and still guide. You have become slow with the weight of the yokes, sluggard under their strain. And your children still cried out, “More!”
And yet, you are still a mother hen. You still take the yokes, in fact, you insist upon it! You panic when one of your constituents tries to carry their own yoke. “Don’t do that, it’s too heavy! Here, let me take it; I’ll carry it for you. No, no, don’t fight me! This is for your own good!” And you add another yoke to the pile. You tell him not to play too close to the street or he’ll get hurt. You tell him to play with soft toys so he doesn’t poke himself. If he tries to make his own way, your heart rate triples. “What if he hurts himself! What if he gets lost! He doesn’t know what he’s doing!” You take the yoke, by force, if you must, and you smile through the tears.
At some point, empowerment became enabling. But I cannot blame you, for we are both at fault.
You feed us baby food with a spoon, so we never get big enough or strong enough to carry our own yokes. That way, you keep us safe, keep us within your grasp because you cannot bear to surrender your control. Perhaps you enjoy the power, I do not know. It doesn’t matter, though, because even if you wanted to feed us properly, we wouldn’t take it! We are comfortable in our high chairs. No responsibilities! No worries! No cares! We are resigned to sit up with our mouths open, waiting for the airplane.
Mm, yum-yum! More, please! I love you lots and lots! I know you love to hear that. That’s why you keep us small, so we’ll love you always and never, never leave. But neither will the weight on your neck.
You know what has to be done, don’t you? We have to grow up. And though it is ironic, we need your help. We’ve become too dependent to stand on our own feet. So help us, please. Take our hands and walk us across the living room, but at some point, let go. Let us fall, then try again. Perhaps help us back up, but let us learn to do that, too. Show us how to use our muscles, to flex them and make them strong. Build us up and make us strong so that one day, we may carry our own yoke.
You were never meant to be Mommy-and-Daddy-in-Chief. Do not carry this burden any longer. You damage yourself. You damage your children. Teach us to carry our own yokes, and when the time is right, let us carry it. Let go of this weight; it is not for you. Step back and let us march on. The weight is not too much; it will strengthen our backs so that we may even be mighty enough to carry each-other’s, too.
I know you love us. So let your love build us. Yes, we’ll fight you; teenagers always do. But in the end, we’ll thank you. And you know what? I think we’ll come back home to visit more often than you think. I think you’ll smile again. I daresay we’ll even be the best of friends.
Dearest mother, honorable father. Let us go.