How to Embarrass Your Son…

Remarks to son Julius Fox upon becoming bar mitzvah, January 20, 2018

Julius, I’ve been snooping in your bedroom. I felt like an anthropologist or an Attenborough, studying the habitat of a fascinating creature, the Julius Nelson Fox.

In that landfill of tennis clothes and camping gear, I found a boneyard of whacky gadgets you ordered from Amazon over the years: 3D pens, virtual reality glasses, and drones of all sizes.

Some of your purchases were brilliant. I mean, Alexa is like the daughter I never had. And some of them were “hashtag fails.” Waterproof iPhone case? Seriously?

Standing in a spaghetti tangle of phone, laptop and tablet chargers, I realized that, despite your parentage, you are an Early Adoptor.

Whether it’s a tennis racquet grip designed to trace the arc of your serve, or the remote control plane that enjoyed 20 seconds of flight before crashing into Elmington Park, you are always discovering, researching, and championing new technologies, then sharing them with the rest of us to improve our lives.

When you got a FitBit, I started counting my steps. When you got a 3D pen, the architect next door wanted one just like it. When you discovered wireless speakers, our house finally filled with music. When you got an Airsoft gun, Craighead Nation became a cheerful war zone. (And I see many of your sweet combatants here today.)

Being an Early Adoptor can be fun and so funny! You are so funny. But it can be very powerful. Because if you can lead your friends and family to new technologies and experiences, think of what else you can do: You can lead us to adopt new behaviors and attitudes.

In a world where new technology—particularly social media—is too often full of snark and pessimism, you can be a guy who adopts a positive attitude of empathy and gratitude. You can be a guy who builds people up rather than tears them town.

Your mitzvah project is a great start. Thanks to a website you and Dad built—and thanks to the generosity of all your friends in this room—you have raised a lot of money and awareness to support Harris Hillman School. I hope the success of your mitzvah project shows you just how much impact you can have on your community. More importantly, I hope it encourages you early on to adopt a lifelong mindset that you can help repair the world.

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