Dear Child | Teen Ink

Dear Child

December 3, 2018
By elliebecker, Danville, California
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elliebecker, Danville, California
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Author's note:

I'm currently a sophomore in highschool, and I love to write.

Dear Child,

This will be a lot to take in, so let me just start with my name and a little about who I am. My name is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and I am a well known Enlightenment Philosopher. I believe that freedom is a birthright that slowly gets taken away from the government, and a perfect example of how this is done is by child slavery. The biggest accomplishment I am looking forward to in life is to finally serve children justice, and let the citizens know that child enslavery can no longer be done. I know that there is a chance you will not be able to read this, but if you do, please know I have done the future of children justice. Here is my story how.

One morning, I woke up and I decided I wanted to confront Montesquieu. He is not my enemy, nor my friend, but I knew it should be done. The reason why we have never gotten along is because we have contrasting views. Our biggest, and most biased opinion is on the Industrial Revolution, and child slavery during it. I hopped out of bed, and my robot made my breakfast while I got dressed in my holographic suit. My breakfast was delivered to my room, approximately three and a half minutes after I ordered. The smell of the pancakes filled the room, and as I was pouring syrup all over them, I had a thought. The children were never able to do this during the Industrial Revolution. They were never this privileged. I thought about what they had gone through throughout the revolution, and how terrible it must have been for them. Just thinking about the horrors and tragedies they had gone through made me sick to my stomach. I ordered my robot to throw my food away. I walked outside of my home, taking in the sweet smell of nature. Although the trees were now fake, due to the amount of leaves that fell, they still smelled like the real ones I used to climb on back in my day. Do you ever do that? Or does the government not let you have your freedom in climbing trees either? Almost everything is fake now, even ourselves. I have been around for more years than I can count. Sadly, not everyone could undergo the procedure I had done to stay immortal.

In fact, the only person that had gone through this surgery is Charles Montesquieu, the man I had mentioned before. This man is not a bad man. He is not a good man either. I would rather not give my bias on him, because we have had a little bit of a history. I’ll tell you a little bit about him, and you can tell me if you think he has good views or not. I suspect that you won’t, considering the fact that he is not against child slavery. But I am getting ahead of myself, here’s a little bit about who this man is.

Montesquieu is a man who believes in laws. What I mean by this is that one of his main enlightenment ideals is that laws are made to keep order. And a law in the day of industrialization, is that children are allowed to work. Montesquieu loves government, let me tell you that. He loves the idea of laws, and everything in between that are needed to keep order. Unluckily for you, that means your parents could force you to work in a textile factory to get more money for your family. I am not sure what kind of factory you may work in, but I am assuming it is a textile factory, considering the fact that textiles are some of the most important creations in the whole world of industrialization.

I am wondering about what I am going to say to Montesquieu. This is making me a little nervous, I think we may get into a large argument that will get into a fight. We will see I guess. I have very strong opinions about this topic, especially since my great great great great great grandson’s hand was trapped in a spinning jenny. He lost his hand that day, and I have never gone one day in my whole life where I haven’t thought about the pain and suffering he had gone through during that time.

I have gone pretty off topic, let me go back to when I left for Montesquieu’s home. Ah yes, I was outside, with all of the fake trees. I jumped onto my hoverboard and left for his house. Or should I say mansion. When you live for more than 500 years it gets pretty easy to save up your cash. As I hovered (or whatever it is called when you hoverboard somewhere) I fell over, distracted in thought of what was going to be my starting line. I tore a hole right where my kneecap should go, with a small scrape underneath it. I winced a little, but I got right back up because I was on a mission. For the children, I thought.

I arrived to Montesquieu’s naypor home, and went through the silver gate. I gazed at his mansion, in awe. I had never seen a living space as spectacular as this before. I rung the doorbell, and a beautiful sound chimed outside and throughout his house, making a loud echo that bounced off his polished marble walls. Charles opened up the door.

“Jean-Jacques Rousseau, what a surprise to see you. It has been a while,” he said with a hint of sarcasm.

“Likewise.” As I stepped into the building, it was as if the quality of air changed. It seemed almost clearer that what it was outside. There wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere, not even the smallest crack in the marble. It smelled like the slightest hint of the lemon lysol spray, probably what he has all of his maids use to clean his house. Does he have children clean his house too? I thought. It was petty of me to think, but that is just what was going through my mind.

“Would you like anything to drink?” Montesquieu noticed how I examined the house, his eyebrows scrunched together.

“Yes please,” I answered. Right as I said it, an iced water appeared on a tray next to me. With a shaky hand, I took a sip, slightly spilling some on my new suit. A little water hit my scraped knee, and sent a burning sensation throughout my whole leg. I was reminded of what I was doing at Montesquieu’s home.

“I came here to talk to you about something,” I said timidly, fiddling with a string on my suit.

“Okay Rousseau, tell me what it is.”

“I came to talk to you about the Industrial Revolution. I have a question for you.”

“Go on Jean, I have to get back to something.”

“Did you support child slavery?”

The question hung in the air and I could hear the tension between us. Anyone could hear a pin drop even seconds after I asked. I know what you may be thinking, it was bold of me to go into a billionaire's’ home and accuse him of supporting something so cruel.

“It depends on what you mean by supporting.”

“I mean are you okay with the idea of putting children in factories and making them work until their feet bleed and their hands are calloused? Are you okay with paying them little to nothing every week?” I asked this with a slight tremble in my voice, my hands were still shaking so I shoved them into my back pockets.

“No of course that was not my intention. I support it because it is the law. Anyone should be able to work, and the parents are in charge of their children, so they can decide if they want to put them in danger or not. I am sincerely sorry that my support of the law put your great great great grandson in-”

“With all my respect Montesquieu it was actually my great great great great great grandson’s hand that was cut off. Do you seriously care about the lives of these children, or do you just care about how much money the government makes. You make me sick.”
“Okay I’m sorry that it was your great great great, whatever I don’t care how many greats there are, grandson that got his hand chopped off. There’s so many kids. It’s not like I could know exactly what happened to each dead or broken kid.” Montesquieu began to yell, and I was getting angry.

“This is exactly what I meant. You just proved my point. There were so many kids, way too many, who got injured, because the government didn’t protect them from things their little minds couldn’t control. How could you have just watched them go into factories, working with machines triple their size, and expect nobody to get killed? At least adults knew what they were getting themselves into!”

“Yes Rousseau, I’m very sorry. I shouldn’t have supported this. I don’t think there is anything we can do about this now.”

“Well…” I said, with an idea forming in my head. “We could send them a letter, warning them. I could write exactly what just happened here. I can send this to my great great great great great grandson, and he can see this before he gets his hand cut off. I can send this to him, and he can warn every child, telling them how dangerous it is. We can save so many lives, and not let the population of the world slowly decrease because we are purposely putting children’s lives in danger.”

“I think that would be a good idea. Are you sure you could get it to him?” There seemed to be a gleam of hope in his eye.

“No, I’m not sure, but I’ll do whatever I can to send it to a child during that time period. Hopefully it will stop all of the children from working against their will by then.”

“How will you do it?” He asked this as if he had no idea how to sent a letter back in time. I knew he had a machine that did that. Of course, he was a supporter of the Industrial Revolution.

“Well, can we use your machine?”

Montesquieu rolled his eyes, wondering how I knew he had one. These machines could only be used one time, so this better work. “Yes we can. I know this will be worth it in the end. I just hope this doesn’t change the future, or should I say the present.”

I hovered back home, thinking about what I was going to put in this letter. And now I’m writing it. I will send this to Montesquieu and he will send this back in time. Thank you for reading this, I wish you good luck my child.

Best Wishes,

Jean-Jacques Rousseau


It has been a few days since I sent the letter, and life has drastically changed. Everything is different now. Industrialization has happened, but it has barely begun. All of the new great machines that were made years ago have disappeared. I think that this is because since the children were not working, there were not as many people to create textiles. The small amount of workers in factories in the past have definitely decreased the growth of industrialization throughout the world. I have slowly begun to fade, because the process used on me to make me immortal hasn’t been invented yet. It is a confusing situation, but I am starting to feel weak. I know it is my time, and I am okay with it, because I feel like I have done justice in this world. My life has a purpose now, and I have saved many lives. It was all worth it.

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