What's right in our society?
In "Dear Abby's" Oct. 27, 2007 column, a reader asked her what she thinks is the main problem in society today.
In turn, Abby asked her readers to respond and share what they think is society's greatest problem today.
The readers' response was enormous. Dear Abby shared some of them in her Feb. 5 and 6 columns.
We are certainly not short of problems. The list of problems identified by readers is long:
Lack of personal responsibility and discipline; lack of respect, courtesy and consideration for others; lack of good parenting; lack of communication; lack of forgiveness; breakdown of the nuclear family; greed; "me first" mind-set; intolerance; ignorance; apathy; and isolation.
Then prompted by a reader's opposing point of view that "it's time to talk about what is right in our society," Dear Abby posed this question, "What is right in our society?" in her April 11, 2008 column.
So far I have not seen any follow-up columns on this topic. But I would like to share a few thoughts of what I think is right with American society.
First of all, I agree that many social and economic problems exist in our society as other readers have pointed out.
But I also think it's good for us to remind ourselves and others about the positives that exist in our society.
Since I grew up in China and have lived five years in Germany and now 17 years in the U.S., I often see things from different perspectives.
From my own perspective, here are some of the things that I like about America and therefore are my reasons for what's right in our society.
Love and compassion
Americans show love and compassion to the world through adopting orphaned and special needs children in Asian, South America and East Europe.
One of the two articles I wrote for Woodbury Bulletin before starting this personal column was about a couple who adopted a special needs girl from China, even though they already have three healthy kids of their own.
I am always very touched by people who adopt children in need. Because of my Chinese background, I am especially grateful for people who adopt children from China. These children can live a better life in America because of the love and compassion some have in this society.
Americans show love and compassion whenever disasters happen around the world by reaching out and helping the victims.
Some Americans demonstrate they care through mission work done in remote areas around the world.
Acts of kindness are performed every day around us.
A few months ago, I started paying attention to and reading the "Sainted & Tainted" section in a local paper. I enjoy reading about people doing acts of kindness.
Personally, I experienced such an act of kindness during a recent trip to Seattle, Wash.
On my flight, I sat next to a woman from Indianapolis. She was going to meet her husband who was on a business trip in Seattle. She opened her heart to me and we shared a wonderful conversation. This kind of openness and heart-to-heart talk rarely happen now between strangers.
Most people on the plane don't talk at all.
When the plane landed, she told me that she would ask her husband to give me a ride to my hotel in downtown Seattle.
While I was waiting with her for her check-in luggage to arrive, I met a couple of acquaintances who came to Seattle for the same conference as I and were going to a downtown hotel as well.
I thought it would be less trouble for the woman and her husband if I just shared a taxi with my acquaintances instead of letting them give me a ride. That's what I did.
Even though I didn't take the free ride with them, I still felt very thankful for her offer and kindness. I only met her on the plane and we would never see each other again. But her kindness will be remembered forever.
Americans are the greatest volunteers in the world.
They volunteer in schools, in churches, and in all kinds of non-profit organizations, for the young and the old, for the poor and the under-privileged.
They volunteer in other countries, to teach, to serve and to do mission work.
All the volunteers have made, are making and will make our society better.
Americans are the greatest philanthropists and givers in the world.
From Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two of the wealthiest people in the world, to the average Joe, Americans have this unmatched philanthropic spirit. Without this philanthropic spirit and generous giving, America would not be as it is today.
I think about people like Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Without him, we might not have so many public libraries in this country.
Between 1883 and 1929, Andrew Carnegie donated money to build 2,509 libraries. Among them, 1,689 were built in the United States, the rest in other parts of the world, including Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
All these people, named or unnamed, are my heroes in this society.
I think as long as our society still holds on to the Christian roots, many things will go right. Otherwise we can expect more problems to come.