(English version by Luu Na)
LET US THANK AMERICA.
(Letter to daughter, from a refugee-dad)
My dear little girl!
It has been a week, since we each hung on opposite ends of the almost-thousand-mile line throughout the night. I could sense your despair as you looked at the dancing numbers on your screen. In our old house where you were born, growing, and then flying out of your nest for your own new life, I too, sit quietly in front of the computer, feeling those same feelings you had. Because those dancing numbers were not what you and I had expected.
Alas, that unexpected surprise, however irritable, was not enough to disturb me. At this age, I have been through much worse, if not downright horrible, tragedies…such as the end of the Viet Nam War on the 30th of April, 1975, when you were still floating somewhere in the unknown universe. To you, I know, this [election] was an event that will mark your young soul as one simply unforgettable. Your sobbing voice at 2 a.m., simply asking “You haven’t gone to bed yet, Dad?”, was enough for me to understand the raging confused thoughts that were on your mind.
The race to the most powerful position in the world has ended. There is a winner, and of course a loser.
Together with millions, tens of millions, and hundreds of millions of people (Americans and non-Americans in the world) you had cried that night. Not for the loser, I know. For there is nothing to say about someone who loses in a political game, and I would not have had the motivation to write this letter to you and this generation of youth – some of whom wept alone like you, others sharing their tears with friends and loved ones.
I know, all your tears were shed not for the winner, but rather for the votes that nearly 60 million American citizens had casted for him. You wept, for what has been the most honorable symbol that America had to offer–a mighty fortress to protect, to nourish, and to flourish the people–had crumbled, and this America no longer seems to be the America that the world could look up to and call on when it encountered a catastrophe.
Maybe you are asking yourself “Why?”
I also wonder “why?” myself: why traumatize yourself with the actions of some lucky tycoon who, at the end of his life, sought to gain fame to pair with his wealth (?)
The answer for both of us: that is the problem. Simply for his own end-of-life fame, that tycoon had trampled on the fundamental ethics and basic morals of a human being. Through lies, fabrications, and delusions, he convinced them that he is the angel sent from high above, who blessed by God as a miracle will make this country great as it is in his imagination and the darkest corners in the minds of every believer he had created.
I am the only one who can fix our problems! He proclaimed, as you can remember, when he talked about the problems of America–some of which were real and others quite exaggerated, misappropriated, or even nonexistent. I am the one who can fix our problems!
The fakes/imposters always appear in times of disarray and desperation…as in the Philippines (President Duterte), England (Brexit), and Turkey (President Erdogan). And they have succeeded in destroying the best of man, by the orders of devils and of the temptingly sinful desires that we each carry as the mark of man. All of which were fortunately bounded by ethical standards, religious faiths, and legalities installed to prevent and punish if one allowed his raw animal instincts and desires to get the better part of him and escape and disrupt society.
And thus, the symbolic meaning of the winner in this unprecedented dirty and shameful election in American politics, is that the victory threatens to restore the darkest, animalistic part of man that have been guarded by justice and holiness.
You know, my love, among those Vietnamese refugees who came to the US decades ago, many were so lucky to have met the kind hearted Americans who widely open their doors to the dismayed people, us, who fled our country for a better life.
Yet, there were not-so-lucky refugees who were prejudiced against, disgraced, disrespected, and even chased off and threatened by a handful of narrow minded locals. But thanks to a justice-bound system that governed bad acts, those not-so-lucky refugees were able to rebuild their lives and given the opportunity to flourish.
Can you imagine if the Vietnamese refugees had come to America at this time? In the midst of Trump’s bubble of deceitful propaganda of “restoring a great America” filling the air, invading all aspects of life: work, social, and cultural activities,…, one would ask, would we be as fortunate or have the same opportunities as the Vietnamese refugees did years ago?
It seems that among the ex-refugees, some only see the Rambo part of America through the tycoon’s arrogant, for-the-sake-of-venting words. They hope to see him crush hillbilly China and punish tyranny in Viet Nam. In a more rational mindset, however, one will see that American foreign policy is set not only by the sitting President of the U.S. but also by the Congress, by lobbyists, and above all, by the interests of the America. An aggressive or neutral policy depends on the benefits it brings to the America.
As such, longing for a better country by supporting a Rambo President is but a pathetic delusion. It calls for discriminations (based on races, colors, and religions), not in the US policy, but in the minds of the 60 million Trump’s voters–those who uphold a belief that immigrants make America worse and that immigrants are people who rob them their jobs, their lands, and their privileges to a luxury lifestyle. If only a fraction of those 60 million voters take actions based on their false belief installed by Trump, the safety of the remaining 300 million Americans is at risk.
Success never comes from those whose claim “I am the only one who can fix our problems!” In a fair-play society, success is the result of hard working and self-propelling towards better causes and better life. In this world, there is not a superior race with better minds, supreme intelligences, or super talents. Only well-soiled environments can provide such qualities, and America proves to offer this very environment and thus draws great minds to its home. That is the incomparable greatness of America. America is great because it allows anyone the opportunity to become great. An 18-year-old Vietnamese would have never achieved his position as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics for a well-known Oklahoma University if he had still lived in his homeland. This honor belongs to America, not Viet Nam as some papers of the country noisily claimed.
To me, “Make America Great Again” is an enticement that will lessen America’s greatness. How can this nation be great if it cannot house the world in its very home?
You work in the software fields, with friends and colleagues who come from all over the world and with various religions. As you said, you and your colleagues and friends share passions in your work, from coding the meaningless numbers into means to heighten love, equality, and harmony in all aspects of life, and inventions that benefit the world. More than that, you and those talented from all races and all religions also share the melting pot where their passions grow, their skills bringing people together.
I understand you and your dear friends have been living in confusion and fear of the unsafe and disrespect that can happen any time anywhere since the Election Day. News of riots add to your uneasiness. But remember, America is the country where one can voice his or her opinions. Open discrimination as well as violations of law do not make the country unlawful albeit inspired from the elected president. Rest assured that all crimes will be tried. America is not only of the 60 million Trump-voters, but also of the more than 60 million voters who voted otherwise, and of those 200 millions who for various reasons did not cast their votes.
Love trumps hate, you know that. Justice belongs to the majority, and you are a part of that majority. You and your friends will win. With other hundred millions of Americans, let us prove to those who want to “Make America Great Again” that America is great because of what is has been doing: housing those dearest around you who are
[t]he high, the low, the rich, the poor,
The black, the white, the red,
And all the chromatique inbetween…, who vary in religion and beliefs but have only one desire–to make America the land that all eyes turn to when in need.
Achieving that will bring back tranquility to your soul and to the land that I came to live and where you were born.
Let us thank America, thank even the tycoon who just won, for because of him, you and I see the greatness of America.
Your Dad, a refugee.
(English Version by Lưu Na)