A Tale of Two Americans
<em>My husband wrote a blog entry today. He writes for Jack Lewis.Net. We most recently celebrated Memorial Day. The day which solemnly acknowledges that our soldiers died so that we have the freedom to use our talents to be a success. Here’s the true story of two American lives.
A Tale of Two Americans
For reasons that will become clear later, let’s just call him Dr. Kyi (not his real name). He was born in what used to be called Burma, which was renamed by its current military dictatorship to Myanmar. He grew up under the oppressive control of the ruling military junta which answered to no one for their oppression of the people of Burma. The current elected leader, who won by a landslide majority, remains imprisoned while the military dictatorship continues to rule and oppress the Burmese people. The average income there is around $1,800 a year, in spite of the wealth of natural resources. Dr. Kyi eventually was able to escape, and came to America.
Rachel Smith was living every American girl’s dream, she was walking down the runway at the Miss Universe pageant, representing the United States as Miss USA. Born in Panama of one Black and one white parent, she eventually grew up in the US, and became Miss USA after becoming Miss Tennessee. Untold millions of American women and girls dreamed vicariously last night as they watched Rachel represent them in the Miss Universe pageant. Some were thinking that some day that might be them, others dreaming, what if it had been them. Rachel may have been the one in Mexico City, but the hearts of much of America were there with her.
Dr. Kyi eventually earned his citizenship, and now lives as a naturalized citizen of the United States. But he remembers the suffering of his friends and family in Burma. He also remembers the religious oppression there, and knows that the Burmese people desperately need someone to tell them about Jesus Christ.
Rachel Smith became one of the finalists in the Miss Universe pageant, but as the contestants, one by one, walked down the runway in the evening gown competition, Rachel’s foot slipped from under her and she fell, sitting, on the runway. Gracefully getting up, she continued as if nothing had happened, but the embarrassment, though well hidden, was obvious. It takes a strong person to continue gracefully after looking clumsy to an international audience of millions of viewers.
In spite of his safety and security as a naturalized US citizen, and knowing the immense dangers such a decision will bring, Dr. Kyi is now preparing to return to Burma, to teach and preach and help the Burmese people. It’s hard for many to comprehend why he would do such a thing, to risk almost certain death, but though I may never be as brave, I understand his reasoning.
Still shaken from the slip, Rachel Smith then faced the interview phase of the competition. As she came forward to the microphone, the audience could be heard booing. Remember, this would have been an audience of middle to upper class Mexicans, not the working class from whom illegal immigrant to the US come from. These would be the very people who maintain the draconian immigration laws Mexico rigidly enforces, as well as the economic climate that drives so many to violate American law to find a better opportunity. What they were booing is the proposal the crack down on illegal immigration, thereby pulling away the money that is sent to lower-class, working Mexicans, that is then siphoned off by these upper and middle class Mexicans. It wasn’t illegal aliens booing. It wasn’t working class Mexicans booing. It was the rich elite booing the removal of easy money they leech off the working class, who drain it from the US economy. And the target of the booing was a 21 year-old girl who had absolutely no impact on American immigration laws.
Sunday, sitting in church, we sang through several patriotic hymns, America the Beautiful and My Country ‘Tis of Thee. Two rows in front of me stood Dr. Kyi, his wife, daughter and some more of their family. They sang, as US citizens, with the same pride and enthusiasm as the rest of the congregation. But I thought, as I watched Dr. Kyi, of the sacrifice he was preparing to make for the chance to better the lives of people back in Burma and realized that while he wasn’t born an America, he embodies more of what we hope America stands for than I, or most Americans, who are merely American by virtue of birth, do. I am so proud to call him a fellow countryman.
Monday, sitting at home I watched as Rachel Smith approached the mic with poise, dignity and grace amidst the boos and jeers of the Mexican audience. She smiled to the still booing audience, answered the question, and offered the audience another smile and a kind word. She left with just as much nobility and dignity as she walked up with. She represented us well. She fell, then was mercilessly taunted and jeered, but not once lost her dignity and poise. I seriously doubt I could have maintained such a composure while being booed by a large crowd of hypocrites like that. I doubt few people could.
Two Americans, both from different backgrounds, different cultures, different futures. Both living embodiments to what we want America to be: self-sacrificing, brave, determined, principled, poised, dignified and gracious. Both make me proud to be an American.