I am a naturalized American of Chinese decent. On 911, I am reminded of how proud I was of the spontaneous patriotic unity that followed and my awe of the extraordinary ‘ordinary’ men and women who exhibited such selflessness and bravery. With sadness albeit, my memory of that day was of America’s true exception.
Today we face a multitude of crisis. Our debt is unimaginable, generating tremendous social, fiscal and cultural turmoil. Our political discourse has never been more heated, dishonest and polarized. The confidence we had in each other and the trust in our leaders have never been so shaken to the core. The national malaise looms as a dark cloud over our hope for a bright tomorrow. On 911, it’s time to be reminded as to who we are as a people and why America will persevere.
My family moved to Sierra Leone, West Africa when I was eleven. One day while playing I heard a baby crying just beyond the walls of our compound. My mother said, “Listen, babies cry in exactly the same way all over the world.” Her observation was for me an epiphany that indeed we are all ‘created’ the same. Why then when people are born the same do some countries stay hopelessly destitute while others become so prosperous? Why do so many struggle for generations seemingly never able to get ahead?
There are many who try to tell us that developed countries like America are responsible for the plight of the less fortunate like Sierra Leone. They say our capitalist greed breeds unfettered economic expansion crowding out the underdeveloped nations. That is why, they say, we are responsible for such misery around the world. Some would further argue that this was the root cause of 911.
It’s been 43 years since I left Sierra Leone. Not only has the quality of life not improved, it has gotten much worse (witness the recent bloody massacres). Sierra Leone was known as “The Land of Iron and Diamonds”. With a population of three million, they were a major source of iron and were the second largest global producer of diamonds.
Did America’s prosperity somehow prevent Sierra Leone from feeding its people? Of course not! Sierra Leone is a perfect example of why arguments against American prosperity are just plain wrong. By any measure, a nation of three million with uncommonly abundant natural resources should never be in the dire straights they are in today. So what happened? Corruption happened! Sierra Leone’s misfortune is that in the five decades since its independence, there had not been a single worthy successor to its founder Milton Magahi, a true statesman who cared more about his country and countryman than himself.
Fast forward to Rhode Island where I now live as a proud naturalized American. Unlike many of my fellow citizens, I KNOW how blessed I am and how blessed America is as a nation. Our great fortune was the special group of selfless, wise and patriotic statesmen who founded this great nation. They had a vision for America that was unprecedented in human history: A self governing nation of the people, for the people and by the people. It was their commitment to individual liberty that unshackled the human spirit to build the greatest nation on Earth. God created all humans to be the same and all have the capacity for greatness. It took America’s Founders to released that human spirit and America’s success is the proof.
Corruption is the poison that generates misery for humanity. The history books have countless examples and I have seen it first hand. Truth, honor and integrity will ultimately defeat corruption but they need our help. As we honor the victims of 911 and the brave men and women who sacrificed to defend our freedom, know that we have an obligation to defeat corruption. For the sake of our children, we must carefully vet our elected leaders, defend American liberty, our rule of law, our Constitution and preserve the priceless heritage with which we have been so richly blessed.