On this Independence Day, let me pay homage to America’s founding fathers who wrote “The Declaration of Independence”, which changed my life by bringing me to the United States in 1988.
I was born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, right before the start of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I lived with my parents and two younger brothers in government housing which had just two small rooms with an outdoor kitchen that my Dad built. There was no indoor plumbing and heating. The free community housing had a mud floor, good for growing mushrooms. Eight families in the community shared one water pump, one outdoor bathroom (a hole in the ground for all males, and one for all females.) When a light bulb busted, nobody replaced it for a long time. I was very scared to go to the bathroom at night. Once in a while, a peasant would come to our yard to dig out all the human waste and take them to the farmland. It was sticky and gross, especially in the summer, with flies everywhere.
Life then was very difficult for me, my siblings, and my parents both of who were uneducated and worked full time six days per week at state factories. Back then, we survived by using monthly food ration coupons to buy small amounts of pork (2.2 lbs. for a family of five), some rice, sugar, and wheat. Because my parents were ordinary workers, we were not eligible for luxury items like milk powder and eggs. Sometimes, to supplement our diet, I even learned from my uncle how to trap rats, until the rats were hunted out. Quite a few times, we ran out of money to buy vegetables, so my parents would send me out in an open field at the edge of the city to find wild greens.
When I turned 6 years old, I was so excited to go to a school that my parents had to bribe me with a movie ticket to keep me at home an extra year to babysit my youngest, one-year-old brother. My parents could not afford the state factory's childcare for my baby brother (yes, we had to pay for government schools and child care centers). After learning I can't attend 1st grade, I cried for three days but felt obligated to help the family. I babysat for one year at home alone with my baby brother, although many times I was scared going outside since the community yard was so quiet. Due to this delay in my education, I became an extremely motivated student in school once I started. I often scored 100 percent in each of my subjects. Later, however, I became very unhappy with school when the teacher told me that I could not join the “Young Pioneers” (Mao’s organization for elementary school students) because I was not “humble enough” (I bragged about my top grades to my friends in school and they told on me). I learned a hard lesson at a young age: I must conform and keep my thoughts to myself. Do not trust anyone. I did everything right after that: writing conforming diaries, memorizing Mao’s quotations, reciting political slogans, trying to be politically correct all the time. I truly believed in what I was taught in school and home: Mao was like a God, our supreme leader, the Communist Party saved China, all bad people and religions should be eliminated. I used to go to Buddhist Temples with my parents but had to stop because we must only believe in Communism in order to join Mao’s organizations and do well in schools. Later, all the churches and temples were shut down during the Cultural Revolution.
Mao died and the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. Two years later, the Communist Party admitted that Mao was only human and the Cultural Revolution was a mistake. I was totally lost at the age of 14. But I had hope because at least the colleges reopened and I had a new dream — passing the national college entrance exam to go to the best university in China. My parents are illiterate but they always taught me to value education so I could get a good job with higher salaries. After three years of hard work and test preparations, I did well enough in the national college entrance exams (three long eight-hour days) that I was accepted to attend a national university of my choice. I choose Fudan University in Shanghai to study law, with an ambition to transform China from a society ruled by men to a society ruled by law.
When I was in Fudan, I quickly became disheartened that the law I had to learn was based on the Soviet Union model. “Law is a tool used by the governing class to rule the masses.” I thought laws were supposed to provide justice. I was lost again and did not know what to believe in and what to live for. I became very cynical and socially rebellious. I tried to make friends with some foreign students on campus and was eager to learn from them what the world was like outside of China. One American student I met at a students’ dancing party invited me to visit him in the dormitory and wanted to show me something special from America. In order to visit a foreign student back then, I had to register at the building gate to give my name, address, major, what to talk about, time in and out. The American exchange student showed me a pocket-sized version of “Declaration of Independence.” Even with my limited English skills, I could understand most of these words: “We hold these truths to be self–evident…” The light bulbs came on. I had never heard those beautiful words before but I loved them so much that I spent many hours later with this American friend to learn more about those new concepts and about America. I was only taught about rights in a collective sense: worker’s rights, peasant’s rights, women’s rights, never learned about individual rights given to me as a human by God. I started to use those words and concepts when I argued with my professors, and later when I had to fight with my Communist Party Committee bosses after becoming a faculty member of the Fudan law school. My mind was opening and my eyes were bright. I could not go back to my old way of thinking and living under a totalitarian regime. I had a new dream: I wanted to go to America, the country that holds these words dearly, where people have constitutionally protected individual rights that cannot be taken away by their government or by any other groups.
I eventually made it to America in 1988. In the 31 years since, I have enjoyed living in this great country; I got my graduate degree, got married, raised three children, started my own business, searched for truth, learned more about liberty and the free market, got rid of my indoctrination from China’s schools, was naturalized as a U.S. citizen, got involved at my local community and with my children’s charter school, testified before the Colorado House and Senate, protested, and ran for two offices. In the past three years, I have been running my business and in my spare time traveling around the country to share my personal stories and educate our youth about the horrors of Communism. I always defend the “Declaration of Independence” and the U.S. Constitution, the documents that freed me from enslavement and helped me choose America as my new country. I have always wanted to thank our founding fathers who wrote the “Declaration of Independence”, the most beautiful and exceptional document ever written.