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Kristen Strmel
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Dear Sophia,

My dear, beloved daughter, I write to you though you do not yet exist. But if and when are you born screaming into this world with a full head of dark brown hair like mine, Sophia is what I will name you. I will choose that name because it means “wisdom” in Greek, and there is nothing I value more than wisdom. I hope you will grow up strong and beautiful, and that one day I can take you to the harbor where the silver giants of New York City’s skyline rise up toward the clouds and tell you that this will be your legacy.

But perhaps I have no right to pass the burden of wisdom onto you if I myself do not practice it. In a world where the the tides are ever rising and the heat grows and grows, I wonder if you will ever exist. And if you do exist, what will you have to look upon? Will our beloved skyline have been locked behind a seawall to protect it from the waves? Will it have vanished entirely?

Dearest Sophia, I am a single spark in a world consumed by sea salt. But it takes only one spark to light a fire. I must use my voice because it is all I have. So often I have thought that my silence could be justified, that others would do this job for me, but then I think of you on a dusty beach staring at an empty city and realize that silence is death.

So I must speak, weave my thoughts into ink, and allow myself to imagine. Perhaps in 2050 we will be walking along a seawall with the spires of Lower Manhattan gleaming next to us, locked in but safe. I will take your hand in mine and tell you all about how we saved polar bears from near extinction and how we quelled the fires in the Amazon. I will tell you about the forests we planted and the plastic we plucked from the ocean, because we realized that the Earth was not a resource to be pilfered but a home to be cherished. Sophia, I hope I can look into your eyes and see pride there. I hope that I can give you a reason to be proud.

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