Wesley Yang expresses more hatred of Chinese upbringing through the mouth of Daniel Chu, “When you grow up in a Chinese home,… you don’t talk. You shut up and listen to what your parents tell you to do.” This is a grossly overgeneralization. My daughter commented, “At our house, almost the opposite is true. It is I-talk-you-listen.”
Yang through Chu further said, “I’m trying to undo eighteen years of a Chinese upbringing.” Is Chinese family upbringing so horrible? He further challenges reader — “How do you undo eighteen years of a Chinese upbringing?” as if Chinese upbringing were so pernicious that one had to uproot it. Is he trying to instigate an uprising against Chinese family and the values it stands for?
By the way, I consider my Chinese family a normal one, in which my children sing and whistle, hop and skip as they wish. I encourage my children to seek out friendship with whoever they like, black or white or yellow. They go through normal adolescent awkwardness but survive without the “social deficiencies” or “Asian alienation” that Yang assumes all Asian-Americans must be plagued with. And I don’t consider my children’s upbringing experience an exception.
As far as I can gather, Yang is trying to purge out from his system any traumatic childhood experience from his Korean family through this writing. Safe catharsis. If that’s the case, write a personal memoir instead of projecting all the evils on AAA– All Asian Americans!
P.S. the main reason that I have reacted so strongly to Yang is I don’t want to see any people burdened with so much self-hatred. My daughter said I have been talking about the same thing over and over again. That put an end to my relentlessly chewing out of Yang’s writing.
In fact, Wesley Yang hates not only the mainstream Asia values but most of all, he hates his own face. I must say Yang seems to be suffering from some kind of hard-to-named mental illness. He starts his article with a derogatory self-description and with a very unflattering picture of himself, more like someone from a state jail house or more pessimistic than that.
“Sometimes I’ll glimpse my reflection in a window and feel astonished by what I see. Jet-black hair. Slanted eyes. A pancake-flat surface of yellow-and-green-toned skin. An expression that is nearly reptilian in its impassivity…” trying to tell readers, “Look, how repulsive I am…” He certainly has succeeded so far. He must have kicked his face millions of times behind the scene, which he believes deserves no better than this.
He reveals his mental illness when he says “Here is what I sometimes suspect my face signifies to other Americans: ….” I mean why do you care so much of what other Americans think about your face, as if they care to think about it? Your face is your business. Beauty or ugly is your judgment. Don’t flatter yourself as if your face ever deserved anybody’s attention.
Obviously, Yang presents an extreme case of low self-esteem, originated from his inability to accept his physical appearance, the stage that teenagers tend to go through but rarely seen among healthy adults. Of course, it is common among psychologically unhealthy adults.
He then goes on relating his feeling of estranged to that of millions of Americans as if he were not alone in finding his own image so unacceptably disgusting. Such a preposterous assumption!
Here’s what I have to say about your face: You may not be able to choose your race or racial features, but it is entirely up to you as to what facial expression you want to put on and what message your eyes and your whole face want to convey. We all like to see people showing confidence and sunshine in their faces, black or white or yellow. Look at the lovely face of Yo-yo Ma and millions of his like.
Not done yet…
On the value of your culture…
Yang suffers from two major crisis: identity crisis and self-image-hating crisis. He identifies himself as one of the whites but sadly he is not; he loves the physical features of the white and hates his own.
This is his personal problem. To me, the real damage is he speaks on a major magazine and talks as if he were the voice of millions of Asian Americans. Nothing is more hideous than this!
Yang knew he would be able to get it published if he could cater to the popular taste by lashing out this extremely self-disparaging piece against his own race–a popular trick. Yes, he did find his own voice by spitting on the face of his mother and all people she represents. Wonderful job!
If Yang hates Asian values so much, he has the choice of rejecting every bit of them, without having to attack these values across-the-board.
We all came from somewhere and have to move on in life from where we came from. Number one rule is: accept and acknowledge who you are and where you come from. Number two: improve and make change at wherever improvement is needed and changes can be made. To those, white or black or yellow, self-hate is a huge burden on life’s journey. It only serves a hastened self-destruction.
Not done yet…
I recommended to my daughter Wesley Yang’s article “Paper Tigers: What Happens to all the Asian-American Overachievers When the Test-taking Ends” May 8, 2011. After reading it, she made one comment, a rather pertinent one, “He has lots of anger.”
Exactly so. In fact, he used one single word to summarize his feelings toward Asian values on filial piety, grade-grubbing, Ivy-League mania, deference to authority, humility and hard work, harmonious relations, sacrificing for the future, and earnest, “striving middle-class servility” — that one word being an F-word. I try to understand why he chooses to use an F word here. My feeble brain fails here. Maybe he thinks it can grab global attention as Amy Chua’s book has obtained. So vulgar!
He must have been severely traumatized by these values. After going through his long writing, I still cannot figure out what is wrong with these values. Why does he hate them so much? Something not right with this writer. What is it?
Not done yet…
On 4/4/2011, I went to Stanford MBA admission site, trying to learn something about their program. Their view pretty much summarizes and represents those of other topnotch institutions like Harvard and MIT.
First, Intellectual Vitality,
…your attitude toward learning is as important as your aptitude
…your passion, dedication, and genuine interest in expanding your intellectual horizons throughout your application
…evidence of the kind of curiosity and passion that will allow you to spark
…the initiative with which you seek out opportunities that enhance your knowledge.
…your willingness to “suspend disbelief”—by mastering concepts that may not be immediately relevant to your intended career, to carve your path in ambiguous environments, and to support the School’s goal of developing knowledge that deepens and advances the practice of management.
Second, Demonstrated Leadership Potential
…your character and your professional competence.
…evidence of behaviors consistent with your ideals, even under difficult circumstances—a sort of directed idealism.
…your personal motivation and convictions, and your ability to confront complex, unfamiliar issues with good judgment.
…how you defend your position with vigor and respect to a peer advocating a different view.
…the ways in which challenges to your beliefs may have changed some of your perspectives and reinforced others.
…we look for both leadership experience and potential.
…We look at your background for evidence of your impact on the people and organizations around you, and the impact of those experiences on you.
…your activities, experiences, interests, and aspirations
…your awareness of what you do well and the areas in which you can improve;
…your group and interpersonal skills;
…your commitment to utilizing fully your opportunities and available resources.
…evidence of your desire to leave a legacy in the organizations you serve throughout your career, inspiring and motivating your colleagues.
Third, Personal Qualities and Contributions
…your experiences, beliefs, your passions, your dreams, your goals
…Take time to reflect on who you are, and have confidence in yourself.
It is what you make of an experience that matters to us, not simply the experience itself. That is, how you interpret what you experience matters.
“Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations (China and India) represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed. That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now. …. It was the United States, the United Kingdom, and our democratic allies that shaped a world in which new nations could emerge and individuals could thrive.”
What would folks in China and India say to Obama? Obama, do you mean the U.S leads the world in its education, in productivity, in its students ranking highest in shanghai, or yes, in your ability to raise debt ceiling and borrow as heavily as Pacific ocean, in having the largest illegal immigrants working while millions of Americans receiving government paychecks? Obama, why did you go to India and China to seek medicine for your country’s illness? Haha! I got ya man.
The words that came up in my mind and that are better associated with Obama’s words are hegemony, double-face, shame, self-deceiving, and of course, the book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance… dream on happily ever after…
On 5/17/2011, on my way back home from Neighborhood Wal-mart, I saw people in fine dress flooded in SMS for this year’s graduation ceremony. The scene brought to my mind the same event four years ago when my son graduated from there. It seems like only yesterday. The day was as chilling as it is now and my mind was heavy with all kinds of worries.
In less than two weeks, we will fly to Boston for his college graduation. I cannot explain why time rushes by so fast, leaving a feeling an unspeakable sadness. I know I need to give more meaning to life before another four years zooms by. This way I won’t regret over a meaningful experience.
I commend children for giving volunteer service, yet I fully expect high school students to do better than library volunteer. Because this type of volunteer is not challenging enough for them. Thus, they are cheap substitute for real hard work.
Why do we have to ask others for volunteer opportunity instead of creating our own opportunities? High school students should rack their brains to be innovative and create their own work which is beneficial to both parties, if they do hope to excel. They deserve credit only if they can invent new ways to volunteer or use their grade level skills to serve. This reminds me of a young man who spent one summer organizing a rocket club among elementary school kids, an unusual experience, showing great leadership skills, and a success in the end. This young man was admitted by MIT.
The key is you don’t always do something that everybody does. You have to be unique. Even in volunteering, a leader is different from the crowd.
On 4/1/2011, after sending my daughter to her school at 4 PM, I went to a local library, where I met a friend of mine who was with her daughter. They were signing up for volunteer work in summer. This reminded me of another friend of mine whose daughter also volunteers at this library. Another friend of mine told me of her son’s volunteer work.
The next day, 4/2, I was at that library again. There I saw an Asian girl, about my daughter’s age, doing volunteer work.
I observed her a little bit and got the impression that she was like serving her time, looking tired and listless. Perhaps she was there for the whole afternoon and couldn’t wait for her parents to pick her up.
While I applaud for the noble spirit and unselfishness associated with volunteering, I realize many of them see this as a necessary step to a good college. In that case, they are not necessarily motivated by any of the high-sounding noble spirit.
On April 1 2011, a Friday noon, the manager of our team told us that she was going to resign in two weeks. I was a bit shocked at first, thinking she must be making an April Fool’s joke. But some of my colleagues opened my eyes to some facts which made me see that her leaving was out of necessity.
After KUMC purchases our company, the two research departments will naturally become one under one manager. While the one at KU has a PhD and MBA, our manager has a Bachelor. Our manager might be squeezed out after KU buyout, even though she is also very capable and experienced. Hence, she left on her own before she was told to.
To me, this emphasizes the importance of one’s education in the long run. If you plan to climb up to a higher level of management, very often higher than a bachelor degree makes big difference.
On the way back home from school on 5/17, I asked my daughter if she felt superior in one sense. At first she couldn’t understand. I explained that not many parents can share their wisdom and their life’s experience as much as I do with you. Not many parents are in the position to give advice and provide guidance to their children as I have done. Proper advice can help children avoid taking detours in their career path, so that they can go beyond the limitation of their age and lack of experience and advance ahead of their peers. That’s why high school provides school counselor and mentor. That’s why some Chinese Aunties ask me about their children’s education.
She agrees with my assessment, even though she thinks I have given myself more credit than I deserve. At least I have kept in mind children’s education all the time.
Children with proper parental guidance should be more mature and feeling superior to those without, unless they choose not to follow this guidance.
Summer is the best occasion to enrich children’s life’s experience. Summer activities could include the following:
A summer camp
Self-initiated volunteer activity (Don’t ask others to give you volunteer work. Create your own)
An oral history project with a local organization
A personal project by yourself or with your friend
Pursuit of a hobby
Start your own business
Work for others
Travel + travel-log
Set a goal for the summer
For a high school student, if you plan well and manage your time, you can have an accomplished summer even if you have not attend a summer school. When you look back, you will have a very interesting story to write about, much more interesting than a classroom can offer. Very often, compared to the richness and diversities of outside world, life spent in a summer classroom is a bit boring and lack of varieties, which reminds me of the time when I had to take summer school, sitting by the window, my eyes following the flying birds and my mind wandering thousand miles away.
On the evening of 5/17/2011, I went to a neighboring Chinese family to give her some of my vegetable plants. I was in a hurry to go back, still she wanted to chat about children’s summer plan and preparation for college, all the fun stuffs that we Chinese parents like to worry our heads off.
Since she asked for my advice about summer activities, I told her briefly that summer was the best time for many meaningful activities. Both of my children went to summer school during their high school years. Still, I would not recommend going to school in summer if you have something better to do.
I believe two semesters classroom learning in a year are good enough. Summer school is for those who don’t have any place to go or don’t know how to make good use of their time or who have to take some courses as they have either failed to take or failed to pass these courses. Remember we learn things not only via books but also through a variety of experience. My advice is to plan well for a fruitful summer outside school.
Last Saturday evening, while chatting with my mother over the Skype, I mentioned children’s education should include a musical instrument and a sport event, the idea that I talked about in my 5/13 posting. I told my mother that education should aim at bringing out happy individual with knowledge and ability. A happy individual has a cheerful personality, strong character, and ability to stand on his own feet in society. I have paid attention to children’s personality, making sure they develop an open, positive and sunny personality– the main ingredients to personal happiness.
My mother said when we were little, they only made sure that we had food and clothes and books to read. Their only hope was we could find some job to support ourselves when we grew up. Great expectation! Really?
To be sure, my parenting of my children is vastly different from that of last generation’s. In fact, I have tried to align my expectation of my children with their expectation of themselves. It took me some time to explain this idea to my mother. Call it generation plus cultural gap.
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach… but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”
I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.
He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.
Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth. Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others. “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”
I hope parents will share this story with their children. The simple message is this: Good deed matters. Do good whenever possible. After all, we don’t have the chance to do good everyday even if we want to.
Continued from yesterday
“Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you’re gonna really build serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books.
“Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd.
“He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak. Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.”
To be continued…
On 3/27/2011, my daughter’s birthday, I shared this story with her. She said she read it before, still she read it again, believing it was a touching one. I am sure some people have read it before. Still, I love it and will share the story here.
“One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned — parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon — so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.
“As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him.
“So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.
On 3/25/2011, a Friday evening, my mother mentioned this saying when I talked to her over the Skype. To be sure, this is not the first time that I heard of this. But this time I think it very sensible for people living in a mixed culture environment.
The acknowledgement that different people have different way of living implies respect and tolerance of differences, not to be judgmental, that we should live and let live, which is easy said than done.
When we judge people using our own standard, we easily forget that our standard is not an universal one and it is not fair to others when we expect others to live up to our standard as if our standard were the best and other’s were no good.
On 3/18, my son went to Europe with a few friends to enjoy his last college spring break. In the afternoon, I took my daughter to her skating lesson. There were many Chinese parents attending their children’s skating.
I told one parent that a child’s education was not complete without a musical instrument and a sport event. If school work challenges their brain, sport their body and the mastery of one musical instrument challenges both. On top of this, both sport and music contribute in their own way to building a strong character –perseverance, focus, goal-setting, and competitive spirit.
This parent told me that since her child started figure-skating, she became more open and self-confident. Sport has boosted up her self-esteem and brought a change in her personality. Isn’t that wonderful!
Obama, a law school student, knows the proper way war criminals are handled and how evidence of killing scene should be preserved, but he knowingly broke the law when he ordered the killing of an unarmed person and immediately destroying the evidence by disposing the body to the sea. The various versions of story that were thus given only serve to cover up some unexposable fact, not just to justify the killing. If the killing were legitimate, there would be no need for instant body disposal and the creation of stories. Stories reveal more than cover the ugly nature of the business.
The outside world is deliberately kept in the dark as to what exactly happened, so that no one can make a legal case against the killing. We were told that Bin Laden was worse than Nazi criminals who were human enough to be given Nuremberg trials. We were told that some human beings do not deserve the protection of law and its due process. But who determines which humans are worse than Nazi criminals and have to be deprived of any legal protection? Well, we were not told, but you figure it out.
The question is why. Is Obama afraid of sending Bin Laden to court? What is it that he is afraid of? It would be interesting to hear what Bin Laden had to expose in court on how Americans had trained and supported him and turned him into what he was. The world would have the chance to hear the other side of story from Bin Laden, plenty of them, and other embarrassing stories regarding American allies and their role in fostering Bin Laden and indirectly helping him to carry out his mission and even the US role in 911, all of which Obama is so dreadful of being brought out of the dark room into daylight. What we see is a classic example of government secrecy, coverup and total lack of transparency.
Dead person cannot talk. Anything is totally possible, more colorful than you can imagine, not all legal though. That’s why both Daniel Ellsberg and founder of WikiLeaks need to be extra careful about their lives because of information leaking. Alas, the world is never in need of spice and excitement.
Find some time to go home;
With smile and good wishes, often go back home
with your children and your spouse, often go back home.
Mama wants to chat while Dad provides dinner;
Share with mama some daily annoyance;
Talk with dad things at work.
Often go back home
While parents don’t expect anything from their children,
They look forward to the time of family reunion…
When this song first came out around 2007, the year when my son was about to leave his Kansas home for Boston, I often sang it. Probably because it sounded so nice at that time. My son heard me singing it so often, asking me “Mom, are you singing this song so that we will often come back home after we leave?”
It was funny that he thought this way when I just sang it for fun and unexpectedly sent him this message. It’s been four years since then. I do miss him, though time has mellowed out the initial sadness over his leaving.
We take care of lung cancer patients everyday and are fully aware of the deleterious effect of smoking on these patients. Some of my colleagues announced that they would quit smoking cold turkey. Last week when I went to CBO, I saw one of them still smoked outside the building. I feel sad for her as I know she has tried many times to quit but no success so far.
Some bad habits are as addictive as smoking and drinking. You know they are detrimental to you and you even hate yourself for possessing these habits, but you simply cannot break away from them. These habits include procrastination and aimless browsing or any undesirable time-consuming soft addictions.
Of course, the best policy is to never allow yourself to go that deep in bad-habit-trap, even though it is so easy to get into one of them. Hence, constantly and carefully watch yourself against any habit-forming behavior. Otherwise, master enough will power and take the cold turkey challenge.
Continued from previous posting on this topic
16. Not reading the fine print.
17. Mismanaging your flexible spending account.
18. Being an inflexible traveler.
19. Sticking with the same service plans and the same service providers year after year.
20. Making impulse purchases, when on second thought you don’t really need or you can get it cheaper elsewhere.
21. Dining out frequently.
22. Trying to time the stock market. In trying to buy low and sell high, many people actually do the opposite. Instead, employ the simple strategy of “dollar-cost-averaging.” By investing a fixed dollar amount at regular intervals, you smooth out the ups and downs of the market over time. If you take out the emotion and guesswork, investing can become less stressful, less wasteful and more successful.
23. Buying insurance you don’t need, e.g liability for an old car.
24. Buying new instead of used. Cars lose 20% of their value the moment they’re driven off the lot and 65% in the first five years.
25. Procrastinating. Time is an asset money can’t buy. Start investing for retirement as soon as possible. For instance, if a 40-year-old saves $300 a month with an 8% return per year, he’ll have $287,000 by age 65. If he had started saving 15 years earlier at age 25, he’d have more than $1 million.
P.S. my son called yesterday morning. He sounded rather sleepy, not fully awaken. I was concerned, as he seldom called this early, “What is the matter, son?” He said, “Happy Mother’s Day, mom.” On occasions like this, both of my children know not to upset me by squandering unnecessarily on my behalf. Indeed, a call phone like this will make my day.
Make no mistake the man behind the 911 event deserved a thousand of death. Yet, there are something lurking in the back of my mind that is disturbing.
Number one, like typical government behavior, there is an obvious lack of transparency. Present is a quick killing and corpse disposal and their labored coverup soon after and plenty of excuses. Why? What was it that Obama tried to cover up? This opens itself to all kinds of speculation.
Number two, the killing could be justified if acted upon self-defense, which doesn’t appear to be. Sounds like it is okay to kill as long as you can find good excuse. NO.
Number three, if anyone can act like a judge, able to determine the life and death of another human being, let’s just do away with our court system and save tons of money. NO.
The last implication is most disturbing. That is, honesty and consistency in parenting. When we demand total honesty from our children, we try to cover up something, which is a dishonesty to me. When we don’t enforce the same standard to all, we are inconsistent. Same thing happens when we say “God bless America” only. I always want to replace it with God bless all. Why not?
By the end of the day, what should we honestly say to the children? Throw honesty out of window? Ask Obama.
We are living through the times when children frequently hear about the hardships related to one of the worst economic downturns in the nation’s history. On the same line, I often read articles teaching people how to stretch their limited resource to last longer. Here’s one of them which I read on 3/2/2011, “25 Ways to Waste Your Money” by Erin Burt, that is, how to avoid the following behavior.
1. Carrying a balance on your credit cards. Debt is a shackle that holds you back.
2. Overspending on gas and oil for your car.
3. Keeping unhealthy habits like smoking and indoor tanning.
4. Using a cell phone that doesn’t fit. Your phone is not a status symbol. It is a way to communicate.
5. Buying brand-name instead of generic.
6. Keeping your mouth shut. By simply asking, you may be able to snag a lower rate on your credit card.
7. Buying beverages one at a time instead of a box of 12 or 24.
8. Paying for something you can get for free, like using library.
9. Stashing your money with Uncle Sam rather than in an interest-earning account.
10. Being disorganized. e.g. Lost bills and receipts, forgotten tax deductions, and clueless spending.
11. Letting a large quantity of your money wallow in a low-interest account.
12. Paying late fees and missing deadlines.
13. Paying ATM fees. Expect to throw away nearly $4 every time you use an ATM that isn’t in your bank’s network.
14. Shopping at the grocery store without a calculator.
15. Paying for things you don’t use and you can get it free from the Internet, like cable TV.
Ever since President Obama made it known to the world that he would not disclose photos showing Bin Laden’s death, I became intrigued because I don’t accept the official explanation.
The official one goes like this. The “very graphic images” could incite violence and become propaganda tools for terrorists. Flaunting his death photos might “make the US look like it is revelling in Bin Laden’s death, and spark reprisals in the Arab world.”
The unofficial one may look like this. Bin Laden’s death photo will reveal the execution style close-ranged killing done by the self-appointed executioners who, intead of handing the criminal to the court and let the court issue death sentence, took the law in their own hands and cut off the life, quick and dirt. What an example for others to follow!
Something in this event reminds me of the killings done by Japanese in China. Very often, these Japanese would execute Chinese, one by one, in front of the whole village, calling it “execute one as a warning to others.” History is never in need of duplicates.
Yesterday evening I talked to a relative of mine in New York city. I told her she could tour her mom in New York city to see places like Times Square and United Nations headquarter. She was duly concerned about safety and the terrorist retaliation after Bin Laden’s death.
This is something that I have been thinking about since the claimed death of Bin Laden. To be sure, the man deserved a death sentence. However, no need for this huge public celebration. It worries me to see the simple-minded over-jubilant celebration throughout media and the claimed political credit of Obama, as if the death of one man pronounced the vanishing from the earth of the whole terrorist organization and we had magically transformed all the hatred into love for America and all sides could bury the hatchet from now on.
Even my mother in China commented that America has poked the hornet’s nest by the killing. In reality, the fanfare over Bin Laden’s death serves to deepen the hatred for Americans and further expose the country to terrorist retaliation. I don’t think Obama didn’t know this when he bragged about it on TV. But his political gain for his re-election seems more important than anything else. I don’t mean he intentionally shortens our security for his political gain. Anything is possible though.
At the bottom of social class are people with the least skills. They will be trapped down below as long as they remain unchanged in their skillset. Imagine what will happen to the person working as a janitor or grocery store when he asks for a pay raise. “I deserve to be paid more,” he complains to his boss. He will soon be disposed of and his position will quickly be filled by another person in similar situation. There are a large army of unskilled folks waiting for that paycheck, however meager it might seem.
Remember this golden rule: The less skill you possess, the more disposable and vulnerable you are.
The second rule to keep in mind is: the more people doing your job, the less valuable you are. With a plethora of high-quality IT professionals in China, your computer skill loses value as the market damand is surpassed by its supplies.
I keep telling my children that if you don’t want to be disposed and displaced easily and if want to be rewarded more than the average, you must have above-average rare skills.
On 4/29/2011, Friday evening, two unrelated things happened that shared one similarity. One is the phone chat with a friend of mine in town; the other is chat over Skype with a relative in China.
The similarity is the topic of jobs or rather job-hunting. For my friend here who was laid off two years ago, it is the scanty job market because of slow economy. For the young person in China, he refuses to accept anything that is below his salary expectation.
Both cases make me think hard of the skills that we need to have in order to land on a job. To be sure, the job market is both fair and relentless, in that your pay largely reflects the supply and demand of the skill you can possess. Your salary is the fair market value of your skill. No more no less. In most cases, you get what you deserve.
To be continued tomorrow…
Yesterday was International Labor’s Day. I talked to my family in Beijing. Normally people have a long holiday to celebrate this day. My mother thought we marked this day in America because it is an International Labor’s Day. Her head is still filled with Marxist slogan — “Workers of the world, unite!”
Here’s my explanation is her. Firstly, the U.S. is very provincial in that it never recognizes or celebrates any international holiday. In fact, my colleagues have never heard of May Day. Haven’t I told you that a nice lady in Texas taught me how to eat apple when I first arrived in the States?
Secondly, that Marxist slogan is very much idealistic. In reality, workers of one country unite against those of other countries. Because workers in U.S. see their counterparts in China or India or any other countries as their competitors who take away their jobs.
Karl Marx was a highly intelligent thinker. He expected American workers could figure out it was the capitalists who shipped their jobs to wherever labor was cheap and their counterparts in foreign lands were on the same boat as them–both were exploited by capitalists. That’s an unrealistic expectation. If they could figure that out, they would not be workers any more!
Today is May First International Labor’s Day. This is to glorify work and celebrate this day.
Above is one of the children’s songs that sends a positive message and that I tried to teach my children. The song says this.
While the sun is out and bright, the roosters crow, the birds are busy building nest and little bees busy with collecting honey. Where does happy life come from? It is work alone that creates happiness. … We celebrate work that brings endless joy and creates wealth.
I think of this song when I see laziness in some wealthy second generation in China. It is sad that wealth has generated laziness in some cases and enabled some people to live like parasites, without any sense of shame.
On this International Labor’s Day, I tell my children never to forget this aged old value that work is divine, that laziness is the root of most of, if not all, social problems.