Advice to My Son

(a work in progress).

Pay your dues. Stand up, don’t be set up. Don’t act like you know something when you don’t. Turn off the TV and other devices and go outside and walk around and pay attention to the real planet. Explore your environment each day. When you encounter something you don’t understand fully (where does plastic come from? Why are plants green? Why are men expected to have short hair and women to have long?), search for information and study about it until you do. Practice paying attention to things around you with all of your senses. Avoid logical fallacies and develop good critical thinking skills. Never take joy in another’s suffering, even if the person seems to deserve it. Don’t lie, even if telling the truth is harder. Keep your side of the street clean. Study with an open mind practices and ideas of people from other cultures; in at least some things, they are more advanced than you. Be moderate in your habits. Familiarize yourself with history and reflect on what it means to the present. Learn at least one extra language. Don’t brag about your accomplishments. Grow gardens. Take the stairs. Do volunteer work. Avoid being a walking billboard for brand-name fashion. Protect and support your friends. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Instead of feeling unduly ashamed of your mistakes, learn from them. Practice making things with your hands. Do your best not to waste or pollute. Become proficient in at least one sport and one musical instrument. Say please and thank you. Pay it forward. Study calculus. Listen to scientists and other experts. Read books, both fiction and non-fiction. Don’t stick to one genre of music. Never put on a uniform and kill people from other countries just because rich old men in your country want to become richer. Eat your vegetables.

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