Monday, January 10, 2011

陈凯再版 - 成为一个美国人 To Become an American

Dinesh D'Souza - What is So Great about America 德叟萨 - 美国的伟大


To Become an American

Kai Chen 陈凯 Written 6/3/2006 初版 Reprint 1/10/2011 再版


"The making of an American begins at that point where he himself rejects all other ties, and any other history, and himself adopts the vesture of his adopted land." -- James Baldwin

成为一个美国人意味着一个新的起点。 在这个新的起点上一个人应消除对过去的眷恋,消除任何其他的历史感,并加入他所认同的这个社会的价值。 --- 杰姆斯. 巴尔迪文

"Here in America we are descended in spirit from revolutionists and rebels -- men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine." -- Dwight Eisenhower

在美国我们是被革命者与反叛者的精神所洗礼过的 -- 他们就是那些勇于向已被大多数人所接受的理念挑战的人们。 --- 艾森豪威尔

Dear Visitors/Readers:

My mother, 86, my brothers and their families all have the American citizenship. But every time we get together, I feel that they have not truly become Americans. Especially my mother, she always uses "foreigners" and "Chinese" to describe other people of different race and the descendents of her own race. I always reminds her:

"When you mention "Foreigners" or "Americans", it is as if you yourself is not an American."

Whenever other people ask me where I come from, though I know what they truly mean, I always answer them, half-jokingly: "I am from Los Angeles." When they get annoyed and ask me of what nationality I am, I answer them: "I am an American." When they further pursue the roots of my origin, I tell them: "I am Chinese by birth, American by choice." This is indeed the truth. And I don't know how to tell a lie. Now after I thought about this issue deeper, I have realized actually "I was born an American, for I was born to be free. Only I was born in the wrong place".

I am against hyphenated identity such as Chinese-American, Mexican-American, African-American, etc...

Being American means something substantial, something special, something exceptional: Being American means being a free being; being American means being individual with infinite choices, possibilities and responsibilities; being American means being in a unique culture in the entire history of mankind to reject all despotism and dehumanization from any and all old cultures and societies; being American means being an universal human being who never discriminates against anyone on the basis of his or her race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion; being American means being fair-minded and tolerant of differences; being American means being courageous against evil around the world; being American means being honest to God and to self; being American means constantly learning, improving, progressing toward a better future; being American means being eternally optimistic....

Indeed, being American means so much more than being any member in any/all previous cultures and societies. Being American means being Approaching to the ideal state of what God intends us to be.

I want all of you guys take a moment to reflect on this point, to think what it means to be an American. And indeed, every freedom-loving person in the world, no matter where he or she is, is already yearning to be an American, if not already is in essence.

America is not just a nation with borders; America is not just a government with all the institutions with formal trappings; America is not just a society where crowds of people gather to live; America is not just a culture left by any common ancestry; America is not just a congregation bonded by a common language; America is not an involuntary adherence of tradition like all other countries in the world....

America is an ideal with a special purpose and yearning from all mankind. America is the last best hope for humans to progress toward a better tomorrow. America is the last bastion against slavery, tyranny and despotism. No matter where you are in the world, you are an American if you yearn for freedom and self-actualization and fulfillment, if/when you believe good will defeat evil, and freedom and justice will prevail in the end...

I love America for I love life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I love America for I love everything America stands for. The world can only become a better place if everyone in it would proudly declare:

"We are all Americans!"

Best. Kai Chen 陈凯




A Poem by Kai Chen 陈凯 诗一首

We are from Africa;
we are from Europe;
we are from Latin America;
we are from Pacific, Australia;
we are from Asia.

Yes, indeed, we are from everywhere;
and we are human beings.
Yes, indeed, we are all individuals;
we are all Americans.

We are feeble; we are strong;
we are poor; we are rich;
we are young; we are old;
we are men; we are women;
we have different beliefs;
we have different religions.

Yes, indeed, we all love life;
and we are all unique human beings.
Yes, indeed, we are all individuals;
we are all Americans.

We had been all oppressed
in our so-called motherlands;
we had all been made unequal
by our ancestral rules and laws;
we had felt less of a human
with demeaning cultures by our rulers;
we had not realized our potentials
as unique, creative beings.
In the land of our ancestors,
we felt not appreciated as individuals
with unique talents and yearnings.
In the land of our birth,
we couldn't see our own meaning as individuals
with dignity and integrity.
In our ancetral lands that command us to love them
out of obligation and duty,
we felt only contempt and nothingness.

Yet, we have all come here
to fulfill our purposes in life,
as unique individuals, as meaningful human beings.
Yet, we have all come here
to create, to produce, to enjoy, to love, to feel happiness.
Yet, we have all come here
to savor life, to envision future, to be a human being
with self-respect and self-actualization.

Yes, indeed, we all love liberty;
and we are all free beings under God.
Yes, indeed, we are all individuals;
we are all Americans.

We are builders, we are doctors,
we are athletes, we are artists,
we are labors, we are entrepreneurs,
we are scientists, we are preachers,
we are teachers, we are students....
We are all citizens of the United States,
equal before the law,
with freedom and justice for all.

Yes, indeed, we love the pursuit of happiness;
and we are here to realize our own dreams.
Yes, indeed, we are all individuals,
we are all Americans.

No matter where you are on earth,
no matter what conditions you are in,
no matter how you come into being,
the moment you realize
that you are a unique being,
the moment you realize
that you are an indivisible individual,
the moment you realize
that you have a destiny to fulfill,
the moment you realize you are equal with others
under God and before the law,
the moment you realize you are not nothingness,
but a marvelous existence by God,
you are already an American.

Yes, indeed, we are full of love, joy and life,
and we are here to enjoy every moment of our existence.
Yes, indeed, we are all individuals;
we are all Americans.
We sing, with our heart and deepest gratitude,
in praise of you - America:
May God bless you, my beloved America.


Ron Miller said...

From Ron Miller:

Whenever I am weary from the fight for liberty, I can always count on the words and perspective of my friend Kai Chen to inspire me. His devotion to America is so great it puts many of our native countrymen to shame. Read his latest and prepare to be energized!

bubbles said...

Kai Chen, you have inspired me to fall in love all over again with America. I am an American born citizen; and realize I have taken my freedom loving country for granted. Freedom has never meant so much to me as now when I see liberty being ripped & shredded by a small small force. Thank you for inspiring to love it more than ever.

Kai Chen said...

Kai Chen,

Thank you for taking the time to express what is truly in your heart so passionatly.

I might say here that you have made me think. I have been to a lot of thrid world coutries where the people are extremely poor. But somehow the people I meet there in the Phillipines, Indonesia and other places alway find a way to give me more than I could ever give them in return.

And I think part of the reason is that there are and have always been Americans throughout the history of mankind. People that wanted something better not for themselves but for their children and future generations. How many hundreds of Millions of Chinese over thousands of years suffered and died under the thumb of Feudal Lords? How many fled China in the 19th century to America only to be enslaved a second time for forced labor in building railroads and mining?

The human race was based upon slavery, suppression and exploitations until one group of people in 1776 Declared Independance from it! And these people were not of a certain race of creed. They did not all speak the same language or prey to the same god. They did not all agree on a plan of action. But they had the American Spirit within them. And for the first time in the history of mankind that spirit was unleashed and allowed to cry out to the world that freedom can be achieved. But it will require blood and sacrafice by many. It would require thousands to die for Freedom and never live to be free. And it has required to lives of a million more Americans in the years to follow to maintain it. That is the price of Freedom. Freedom is not free.

And we as Americans must realize that while we are extremly fortunate to live as Americans and enjoy the bounties of free poeople there are billions of more humans with the same passions and desires for freedom. We should remember never to take freedom for granted.


Dear John:

I share your sentiment. Indeed Freedom is Never Free.

Yet you are mistaken to say Americans enslaved the Chinese who worked on the railroads. The Chinese workers came to America voluntarily. They were paid a wage that was much higher than what they could get in China. They were treated much more humanely than what they had been treated at home. Indeed America has never been perfect, yet America was, has been and still is the best. People today still flock to America to look for better life, not to other countries, no matter how many leftist Americans want to sing in praise of socialist Europe, or despotic China. People vote with their feet.

I sense you feel afflicted by a sentiment that America is not perfect. Don't feel that way. America was, has never been, is not and will never be perfect, just like a person. Yet you will choose, among people, your friends with whom you feel respected and hopeful. People in the world, given choices, will still choose America, despite her imperfection.

America allows you to venture into the unknown, to make choices therefore mistakes, to have a second chance, to progress into the future. America allows you to discover who you truly are and take the consequences and responsibilities for that reality. This is much more than what people will find out in any other country. This is why we must safeguard the principle of America enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Best. Kai Chen

Sprout said...

Sprout said:

Hi Kai, you truly understand what it is to be an American! I've traveled to many countries still found America is the only country I want to live in. As an educator, I've tried to instill in my students I've taught, just how lucky they are to be born in this country. This is the only country you can be anything you want as long as you put in the effort with tenacity; if you fail, she will give you second chance, third chance as long as you don't give up. I've always told my husband that I feel no one in this country is poor, unless they are physical or mentally challenged, it's their choice to be poor.

I think our forefathers were genuinely wise and noble, starting with Washington not wanting to be a King and setting up the structure of government that have lasted over 200 hundred years. It seem many evil doers want to collapse the structure, there has always been sentinels to safeguard the structure, and this time it's the Teaparty people. Yes, we need to be vigilant, freedom is not free.

Thank you for sharing.