To the student it may concern,
To the generation after mine: I’m sorry. For what, you may be asking? I’ll explain. I promise, again, to keep it to one page.
By the time you read this Brett Kavanaugh will likely have become a Supreme Court judge. That process may seem like something you don’t have to care about, but I’m here to tell you that it is.
Fact: America isn’t fair. It has never been fair and it isn’t designed to be. Beyond a certain point it’s not a meritocracy, where the harder and better you work the more you succeed. That might be true in your classroom, but it becomes less true the older and more involved in society you get. America also isn’t a democracy, at least not in a way that’s pure or extensive. It is democratic to a point and then other things take over, like money, racism, and sexism. There are fancier words for all of those things and a lot of nuance I’m skipping over, but it’s in your interest to recognize how things work.
Statistically, most Americans tap out of this depressing reality and just get a job, a family, and try to stay out the way. Most of those Americans go on to live long and unchallenging lives. And yet, it’s this very tap-out that created the situation we find ourselves in: struggling with the growing realization of how undemocratic things really are, how unfair, how downright predatory some of the systems we are surrounded by have become. It’s important that you realize that tapping out is a choice and a choice is an action. It is a decision to not contribute to a society that’s just comfortable enough that most of us don’t have to confront the ugly parts with any consistency, or ever.
None of you are stupid: any of you could watch Kavanaugh sitting in front of all those politicians and know in five minutes he’s lying. None of this is about whether or not he’s telling the truth; even the people who support him get that he’s lying. They just don’t care. They want him as a judge more than they want justice or truth and that IS the American way.
Today I don’t have any answers. I have only an apology, and I want to be clear that I’m saying “I’m sorry” instead of saying “I apologize”, which is also some slick adult trash. We’re taught on our jobs to respond to customer complaints with “I apologize” instead of “I’m sorry” because “I’m sorry” sounds like an admission of guilt, like the company did something wrong that might hurt us later. Well, I’m telling you the country you’ve inherited is broken and every generation before you is responsible for that. And it’s unfair to just pass the baton to you and let you figure it out. And for that I am sorry.
I don’t expect to live to see it fixed. You shouldn’t operate that way either. You should consider who comes next, and make your mark on their behalf. Leave a place better than when you came, and I mean CLEARLY better, not arguably better. Think of it as political graffiti, leaving your mark as work instead of painted words. If you do that, you may fix a thing. And it starts now, while you’re in high school. Everything Kavanaugh is being grilled about is what he did in high school. You know people like him who do things like what he’s done. When you see him on the television today, know that it’s because a system somewhere didn’t address what he is or what he did when he was your age. And be mad about that. Be mad about it enough to fix it where you are, in some way that makes it better. We can’t make the world a better place for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who he harmed when he was in high school. But I bet you know a Dr. Ford right now. And that is someone you can help. That is a piece of the world you can fix.
Good luck, and again, I’m sorry. You should be hearing “I’m sorry” a million times today and you won’t.