It’s a touching scene. The father in The Road is giving the last of the hot chocolate they had found to his son. He pretends to make a little for himself, but he’s really giving it all to his son, who is but skin and bones at this point.
But he can’t quite pull it off.
You promised not to do that, the boy said
You know what, Papa.
I have to watch you all the time, the boy said.
If you break little promises, you’ll break big ones. That’s what you said.
What father wouldn’t have done the same for their son? We put their health over ours in a heartbeat. But that’s not really the point of today’s email. Because the boy is right—and he’s the “little fellow” naively chiding his father with his own advice.
That’s really the message of The Road. For the entirety of his short life, the father has talked to the boy about the things we talk to our kids about: honesty, fairness, kindness, courage, love. Now, at the end of the world with their lives on the line, all those lessons are playing out with stakes almost beyond comprehension.
It would have been so easy to be selfish, to throw the rules out the window, to blow off the little promises, but you can’t. Just as we can’t, right now, in the middle of this pandemic, with all we have going on.
Now is the time to show up. Now is the time to keep our word. To show that we really meant what we’ve said all these years. That these aren’t just idle words, but what we live by.