Rumors of my death are only slightly exaggerated, son. I’m so close to dying I taste ashes. There’s little time for me to atone for a lifetime of neglect—of you, I mean; I didn’t neglect much—but, no matter, this should do it. It’s more than a will; it’s your life from here forward. Without it, you’re nothing; with it, a significant portion of the world is yours and you’re still nothing, until you can document it. They call you illegitimate, son, but that’s irrelevant, as long as you’re the legitimate heir. You see the difference, I hope. I know you don’t know me, but what does that matter? My aliases all begin with D, so call me Dad. Am I the smuggler who flouts international sanctions, or the diplomat who flies peacekeepers for the UN? Just answer me one question. When life hands you a cargo-load of Kalashnikovs, do you hide them, or find someone who can produce what looks like a valid end-user certificate? Once you figure that out, my legacy will be worth something to you. Conflict is opportunity, son, for those with the right paperwork. Be willing to move, and recognize that reality is fluid, but standing still and re-credentialing is best when you can manage it. You’ll never understand my love for you, son, until you have to expatriate and leave your family behind. Quick: how many countries are there in the world? Find out. You never know when you’ll need a new flag of convenience. You are who your passports say you are, son. It’s the same for the diamonds, the tanks, the missiles that take out the tanks. Your mother never understood; she was dazzled by the sparkle. Oh, and get a haircut. That one makes you look like you’ll overpay.

Copyright © July 20, 2007 David Hodges