Christian Ross

Dear Cohen,

Happy third birthday! I’m floored every day by your wisdom, your excitement for life and for the amount of joy a little man can provide for so many people. Your first three years haven’t been without their share of bumps and bruises but you’ve been a trooper through every one and have some fascinating stories accompany each.

I wouldn’t normally position this letter in such a public forum, but this year you happen to share a birthday with a little Internet phenomenon called Blog Action Day. Each year, bloggers around the world unite on a single day to all write about a chosen topic. I’m not necessarily sure it actually spurs any action or proves any points but if it alerted even one to areas where they could help out, I can’t see the harm. Since I signed up and I’m borderline nerdy, I figured I’d join the revolution.

The topic being covered this year is pretty broad: Water. I don’t expect you to understand yet the idea of how important water is to your daily life. You’re too busy with learning new things, exploring, playing and learning to pitch like Cliff Lee but in terms of our physical needs, water is probably the most fundamental. We use it every day for drinking, for cleaning, for keeping our plants alive and so much more. In fact, it’s estimated that the human body can’t go more than about three days without water before shutting down. It is a necessity.

Due to blessings beyond our control, we have been given the opportunity to be in a situation where clean, accessible water is a right. But not everyone has been afforded the same. Sadly, almost one out of every eight people in the world do not have ease of access (or any access at all) to this physical lifeblood. Think of it like this, if your class represented all the people in the world, each of your friends would have access to clean drinking water every day, except Rihannon. Sadly, Rihannon wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to the drinking fountain, use a toilet that could flush or even wash her hands without the fear of them becoming even dirtier.

The problem is, is that it isn’t Rihannon or someone else so close that we see suffering, those who suffer we don’t see and often forget about. It’s really no different that the simple game we play with Keegan when he is getting into things he shouldn’t, “out of sight, out of mind.” We are often so near-sighted in our own lives that we forget about the Rihannon’s of the world from my example above.

Even at the age of three, your mother and I have hope that we are instilling the right values in you. Things like faithfulness, honesty, obedience and respect through practical application in things like sharing your toys and caring or praying for others. Sadly, what your daddy preaches isn’t always put into practice. Like everyone else, I fall into the trap of “out of sight, out of mind.” Fortunately we aren’t in a situation where water is a basic need for us; unfortunately we aren’t in a situation where water is a basic need around us to remind us to do our part.

Ignorance cannot be bliss. But more often times than I’d like to admit, it works itself out that way. Case in point, I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a campaign for this exact cause. A noble goal of $20,000 was set to be able to drill four separate water wells in an area where they didn’t have them. I participated. And I spread the word. And I felt good. I gave myself a mental pat-on-the-back for the $25 I donated to the cause. It was an amount that I felt comfortable with, but in hindsight, I should have probably put myself in a position of being slightly uncomfortable with what I gave.

In less than thirty days, my mind had moved on from those wells. Away from the people in need and into a thought process about what else could make me happy. I took that $25 and I multiplied it over thirty times. I bought a toy. Instead of providing one of life’s most basic needs for people in need, I thought of myself. I allowed myself to think that $25 was a borderline painful amount to take care of others and $900 was an acceptable amount to take care of myself. And in doing so, I set a really bad example for you.

As you grow up, you will find that I’m not perfect. What I also hope you will find though is that I am working at it. I desire to be the guy who chooses to meet the needs of others with the $900 and his own with the $25. I hope that you will find a similar passion to help as well. Clean water isn’t the only need for the billions of people around the world but it is a basic physical necessity and one we can work together to provide for all.

Happy birthday to you, you are richly blessed and definitely a blessing.


For more information on how to get involved, dig in to any of the following:

For an interesting look into how you might conserve some of our diminishing natural resource:

View full size | via


RSS readers: I’d encourage you to click through, this post is best viewed in the browser.

The preceding is for a series in a writing experiment that I am participating in called Project52. If you liked it, feel free to follow along and read other #p52 articles – or even better, subscribe to all of my writings by RSS or Email.

2 responses to “Dear Cohen,”

  1. Mother says:

    I am touched and humbled by your words and your dedication to understanding that life is bigger than just what surrounds you. Thank you for helping Cohen to begin to understand that also. And thank you that you show that to me in so many ways. I could not be more proud of you and who you have become. Much love my first-born son – my life changed when you joined it and continues to change with the blessings you bring me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *