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Dear Connor: Put on your listening ears

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


A message from your MamaDada


I’m taking a quick side trip with this post. It’s more personal than the others because sometimes we don’t understand the big picture if we don’t pay attention to the personal one.

You know you make your MamaDada nuts, right, Connor? Well, actually, at almost-four you probably don’t, but you do. You make them nuts because you are an extroverted, quick-to-decide, dreaming pragmatist.

Combine all that with a toddler’s ceaseless energy and, well, you just wear us out. But, even when we’re dead beat on our feet, nothing tops one of your sparkle-eyed grins.

And it’s to protect that grin that the rest of us will do whatever it takes.

Your great-grandpa, Dick Grist, loved watching his grandsons rear their children. He applauded the ways in which both mothers and fathers were so completely engaged with their kids. It was something his generation of fathers didn’t do. I’m pretty sure he always wished it might have been otherwise.

I love watching you create a family with your MamaDada. We make the two of them one word because that’s how in sync they are with you. Pretty sweet.

Your Dada was born at the beginning of the digital revolution. He remains a geeky early-adopter who’d rather solve a programming problem than shoot hoops. He and I can happily Facetime at 2 o’clock in the morning, working through some website challenge, while the rest of you are sleeping tight.

That makes me happy. I love that the interwebby world of possibilities keeps your Dada and me connected.

So I share here a post your Dada sent to me. It captures the dissonance and disillusion of today’s unraveling.

But it also captures the hope your Dada’s Millennial generation brings to this turning point in American history. And that’s what makes me say we are going to be OK. Put on your listening ears and understand Dada’s dreams for you and the ways in which he’s preparing you for your roles in our future.

Nov. 2, 11:25 a.m.: I strongly believe that we live in a time where extreme partisanship – along the lines of our allegiance to sports-ball teams – is both accepted and embraced.

Add to that, our growing ease and comfort with posting, ‘sharing,’ having a voice online (regardless of the legitimacy or truthfulness of that voice) and the troubling acceptance of substantiated non-traditional news sources that promote the comfortable echo chamber many people want to live in.

We now have a massive forum for misinformation, propaganda and a continuing push to remain ignorant and unable to have purposeful conversations as a community.

We are shifting from a society that works together to achieve, to one of divided in-group success at the detriment of the out-group.

It makes me sad to see people I like behave in this way. It troubles me deeply as I realize that it will probably take something catastrophic to bring us back together in a place of common goals and passion.

Maybe, hopefully I (and others) will be wrong about an impending precipice. But, I can’t sit back and willfully ignore that we are on a destructive path.

While I can’t fix or change it as an individual, I can write about it, I can teach my son and give him the tools to deal with the mess he, and his generation are going to inherit in 20 years. And I can pray (not that I am particularly religious) that there will be others that do the same.


“Dear Connor” is a collection of essays written for Connor Cunningham by his grandmother, Linda Grist Cunningham. I began writing these as my construct for making sense of the unraveling American community. Connor may never read them, nor might others; but they’ll help me distill solutions from the cacophony that passes for discourse in final crisis generational turning of America.  


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