Dear Joseph and Lucia,
There’s been a subject on my mind for quite a while now that I want to try to address. How can you change someone’s mind on a subject when they believe whole-heartedly against it?
Let me start with what brought this to mind. There’s been a growing movement in the past several years of people that believe the world is flat. The members of this movement make lots of videos and publish them on YouTube. Their argument is the “establishment” has been lying to us all these years about living on a globe earth and the world is actually flat. They claim NASA is responsible for a huge media campaign that fakes rocket launches, moon landings, and the space station. They believe all the pictures taken from space are CGI and there is no definable proof that we actually live on a globe. Instead, they tell people to use their own senses to make up their minds. They say to look at the horizon and see that it’s flat and that should be enough to know we live on a flat earth.
I have watched several of these videos showing all kinds of “experiments” that are completely out of scale and totally unscientific. Now given that I work in the aerospace industry and have seen first-hand both the science and the reality of a globe-earth, I felt myself more than prepared to debate them. That is until I met one. A clerk at the local gas station noticed I was wearing a SpaceX t-shirt and asked me if I worked there. He then proceeded to start to tell me it’s all fake. I listened to him patiently and then proceeded to tell him the truth: we design and build rockets that go into space and orbit the globe. It’s a fact. He flat out didn’t believe me. Even more, he discounted anything I had to say since I must be “on the take” and perpetuating the lie. Instead of making him believe in reality, my arguments only further concreted his belief. I was flummoxed.
Then I remembered another incident that occurred several years ago when your mom and I lived in Dobbin on the farm where you guys were born. A neighbor that goes to our church had fallen in with a group called the Pope Pius X Society. This group preached that the Catholic Church had become a false church since Vatican II back in the 60’s. Any mass celebrated in the vernacular (not Latin) was false and invalid. The “true” church still only lived on through the Pope Pius X Society. They argued that the bishops were not to be trusted and only the Pope knew the truth and had their blessing. So it was the perfect setup… since we couldn’t actually ask the pope himself, we had only their word that everyone else was lying and couldn’t be trusted. Their pamphlets were full of bold type in red and black that all centered on fear.
So how do you protect yourself against a movement, group or some sort of manipulation that is false, dangerous or flat out wrong? It’s very simple: look for some basic indicators that are always present:
- Is the primary argument fear-based? In the case of the Pope Pius X Society, they capitalized on the fear of your eternal soul. Using reds and blacks only exacerbated the fear.
- Is it based on a conspiracy? “You can’t trust anyone.” According to the PPX, you couldn’t trust your priest, bishop or local church. They were all in on the conspiracy or believed the lie. In the case of flat-earthers, you can’t believe NASA, the government, Universities, or anyone perpetuating “the lie”. Conspiracy theories can be very dangerous and believers end up setting themselves apart and disassociating from society. The temptation is that true-believers are set apart and are “special”. This plays on a natural human tendency to want to be special.
I would like you to use these two simple tests and look at how your lives have been shaped by your mother. How often have you been told I’m a bad person or I’m evil? How much do you fear me as a result? Who told you to fear me? Now ask yourselves exactly what have I done over the years to deserve this. I’ve already addressed the original “crime” against Lucia that your mother has likely told you about over and over. This is simply not true. I have medical records and investigation results that show it never happened. Lucia, she’s told you this enough when you were young and later as you grew up that you might believe it actually happened. It’s nothing more than using fear to win an argument. Since then, I’ve been to Woodville exactly twice. Neither of those times did I try to take you away. I’ve never done anything that should cause such fear. The only contact I had was when I shook your hand, Joseph, and congratulated you at your graduation. What is there to fear in getting congratulated?
Then there’s the conspiracy aspect. How often have you been told you can’t trust others? Were you told to not read my letters or trust anyone that has? What other aspects of your lives can’t you tell people about? Do you have to hide or lie to people about how you are really living? Just ask yourselves honestly. What argument or persuasion can I put forward that could make you open your minds and reach out to me? In the end, there are no words that will work. Only actions and results.
I’ve been sure to pay all child support payments. Those are done. You are both over 18. I’m still covering your medical insurance. Just ask if you want the information. I’ve prayed for you two every day. I have nothing but concern, care and love for the both of you. I come to you with an open and honest heart. I have never wanted to take you away from your mother. I know how important she is to you both.
I live a peaceful and serene life. I’m honest with everyone (sometimes brutally so). The only thing missing in my life is a relationship with you two. That is a hole that is very wide and deep. I’ve stopped trying to fill it with alcohol or lies a long time ago. Instead, I hold on to that sadness and sorrow and turn it into hope for you two. It’s not easy and I don’t always succeed. There are days I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, get in my car and come find you. But, that wouldn’t make anything better. On the contrary, it would only prove your mother right. Instead, I channel those feelings into productive actions. I work hard. I treasure and love those around me.
This is the person I’ve become. I’m your father, not your enemy. I’ve published my whole life on the internet in this blog and on Facebook. If you want to know who I am and what I do, just read it for yourself. Read what others reply to my comments. If you are still not using the internet (another conspiracy btw), then trust your friends that have brought you this.
I can stand behind every word of this post and know it to be truthful and honest. To be a well rounded adult, it is important to have a relationship with both parents, and, when you get to the age or level of maturity when you understand and accept that parents are just people like you, with their own set of idiosyncrasies, fears, hopes and reasons, you can start to understand their choices and actions. That will open your eyes to a deeper understanding and acceptance of yourselves, which is a wonderful thing. Understanding leads to being able to love without judgement, and to forgive, which is freeing. I wish every day for the opportunity for you to know your father for his true self, for him to get to know who you are now, and (selfishly) for me to get to know the children of the man I love. My daughters would probably like to get to know you also, but you’d have to confirm that with them. In the mean time, just know that we are proud of you both and your accomplishments and that we love you, no matter what.