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Despite tough times, America still good to her citizens

Posted: October 12, 2010 11:03 a.m.
Updated: October 13, 2010 5:00 a.m.

There were a number of reasons why I was looking forward to this past weekend.


First -- I can always bank on being fed well in Lexington, Ky., this on account of my good friend from college’s parents, whom I’m considering adopting as my godparents -- with or without their consent.


Second -- we were heading to Keeneland, a world-class horse track. I hate to make the analogy, but let’s say Keeneland is Yankee Stadium and Springdale here in Camden is Joe Riley ballpark in Charleston, home to the single-A RiverDogs.


Three, most importantly -- the primary reason for the trip was to visit with my aforementioned friend who has spent the last 22 months in China -- first in Changchun, now is Xian -- teaching English and studying the language and culture.


 (OK, perhaps this is where I mention that my brother became engaged, as well -- we’ll deal with that at a later date.)


While the delectable home cooking and dollars lost at the track -- not to mention the sundresses -- are tough to beat, spending time with true old friends can’t be topped.


I was eager to hear about his time in Asia, about the way of life, the challenges, the perks. The women.


A piece of me was anticipating being depressed after speaking with him. I’d hear all about China's impressive new infrastructure, their devotion to education and their ability to implement policies for the good of their people and the country.


I’d hear how China makes America look pitiful, like a nation that continues to fall apart as the years go by because of bickering, partisanship and greed.


I’m delighted to tell you this wasn’t the case. Instead, I came away with a reinforcement of how fortunate I am to be born in this country, despite our political shortcomings.


I’m not sure how this upcoming story will make you feel, but you’re bound to feel something.


One night, my friend said, as he was walking home from an evening out, he witnessed a man and a woman in a bit of a scuffle. The man was screaming directly at the woman, who appeared to be frightened and submissive. There was little question this confrontation would become violent, with the woman likely taking a beating.


What would you do in this situation? If you’re a caring American, chances are you’ll see it as your duty to interject.


My friend isn’t one to kneel to confrontation. There’ve been more than a time or two when he’s instigated situations of which I’d prefer to not be a part.


But, he says you simply can’t do anything, or that, in China, it’s not your place to step in. Along with him, he said there was a small crowd witnessing this sad scene. Eventually, a cab picked up the screaming couple and drove off. My friend says you could see the fight intensifying as the car sped off.


This is just how it is, according to my friend. You don’t get in other people’s business. The culture there is to let people be. Odd for a Communist nation, though many claim it’s Communist in name only.           


This led to the discussion of the oppression of women, which is no secret in China. My friend was quick to point out, however, that it’s not the political environment in China that oppresses women, it’s the culture and the way the country has operated for hundreds of years. Women in China are immature, my friend said. “A 25-year-old over there is likely to act like a 15-year-old here,” he said.


Moreover, my friend said the fact there are no regulations when it comes to starting a business or preparing food, you often question what you’re purchasing. Remember the tainted toy products that were making their way into this country? That’s what happens when anyone can start a business.


The converse to this, of course, is that the freedom and simplicity of starting a business spurs innovation.


Also, it isn’t uncommon to see children relieving themselves right on the sidewalk, my friend explained. How convenient, huh? Need to go? The sidewalk is your restroom.


Talking with my friend was a reminder that because of the nation in which I was born, I have been awarded a quality education and a great support system of parents, family, friends and mentors. I’ve been fed well and had facilities where I can relieve myself. And while it’s not much, I have a few dollars to waste away at the track.


This said, don’t believe for a moment we don’t have many – Many -- problems that need correcting. If Congress decides to ever again work together, however, we do have the chance to return to prominence.



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