Tag Archives: humanity

To Be, or Not To Be American.

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

To be, or not to be American. What does it all mean at the end of the day. To be American means to have the right to free speech, to bear arms, to practice religion without fear of persecution, to vote for what we believe in, but to believe in freedom and equality. This country was founded on the ideals of greatness, to lift ourselves up by our bootstraps and create something out of an opportunity. The rhetoric that is being spread throughout this country has been more toxic and more divisive than ever before. As an outspoken person, I usually have a lot to say, and have had a lot to say via Twitter, but never in a formalized format such as this.

Now, it’s personal.

I’m Kenney Tran. A child of two Vietnamese-American (now) citizens. I was born here, in America, with a passport, social security number, and a college education. I’m currently serving in the Peace Corps, another privilege that American citizens have. Yet despite all of this, my own citizenship is under attack. I get it, I’ve traveled a lot. But does that mean I should not be considered a person of my own country?

The concept of birth right citizenship isn’t unique to America, contrary to what our President has been saying, as a matter of fact, there’s a beautiful list.

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

I was brought up as a Vietnamese-American, being taught about both cultures, playing a beautiful game of balance, learning about both and taking parts of each and molding my own individual identity. I meditate and reflect a lot on my days and how my actions impact others, a trait of the Buddhist-Centric culture of Vietnam, but also have a tendency to be wild and spontaneous based off of the Extroverted-favoring nature of the United States. I consider myself to constantly be a person under construction, as a learn more about the world, I learn more about myself as well.

My parents fled warfare, a corrupt regime that refused to let people speak out about things that were happening and how they really felt. They left a country that was not accepting of ideas. So here we are, in America. The golden land, the country that is held to the golden standard of the world. So what did it mean to be American?

To be American meant to be kind, to be welcoming with open arms, to help others, to love for our neighbors and our fellow citizens in our great melting pot. It never had to do with whether or not someone was born here, where they come from or where they are going, the color of their skin, or their religion. Yet here we stand, in a country more divided than other. Watching this country from the outside, I can almost visualize it tearing apart at the seams.

I have people ask, or rather tell me, that I don’t understand the other side of the argument. That I’m biased. That my view is skewed. I’ll acknowledge that truth, but I can also admit that I’m a little bit more of an expert than at first glance, I majored in Political Science and took many classes on Political Theory as well as the Politics of Immigration. I would now like to invite you to read a couple essays I wrote on refugees and immigration for you to better understand a few concepts, most being that immigrants actually IMPROVE the GDP of a host country while also shutting down Trump’s claim on Sanctuary Cities.

1: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AUNPWKwb4vYDvFplbsHsAzWmCyqD3-T5yn8oG2BUyNY/edit?usp=sharing

2: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ss5ZugxQOtFXJuAb627zRS22I1v7Que4cX4OO0Be3NI/edit?usp=sharing

I understand that from a different point of view, having an undocumented couple with a child born in the United States creates a situation where more often than not, the couple will get to stay with their American child. This brings up the argument on the right side of the aisle, with opponents saying that this would take jobs away, and it’s a quick and simple path to citizenship. Need we go back down history road to remember that we are ALL immigrants? Needless to say, the people who end up becoming parents of an American child will almost definitely be finding jobs, learning English, and contributing and becoming a part of a beautiful American society as well. It sounds just a tad better than the colonial days of forced westward expansion, slavery, and how manifest destiny created a power complex where we forget our own history and refuse to open up doors that were previously available to us.

As a citizen (for now) , of the most influential country on Earth, I would like to end with a few remarks. We are a country that should be building bridges rather than walls. With the rise of alt-right groups, hate crimes, and overall intolerance of civil discussions, it’s difficult to remember that underneath all of this, every person on Earth has a potential to be an American. To be an American citizen is not about a piece of paper or where we are born. For the longest time, it was about character. The person that we are. The person that we could be and have the potential to be. To use the rights given to use by the government in place to better ourselves, and in my case right now, using my first amendment right to express my mind… at least, while I still can.

“I received a letter just before I left office from a man. I don’t know why he chose to write it, but I’m glad he did. He wrote that you can go to live in France, but you can’t become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Italy, but you can’t become a German, an Italian. He went through Turkey, Greece, Japan and other countries. But he said anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American.” – Ronald Reagan.

Are You Just Alive? Or Truly Living?

It’s strange isn’t it.

We’re in the age and time where we can view the lives of other people around the world at the click of a button. We often end up comparing ourselves to the lives of others. Yet through the lens of social media, we see the peaks, yet never the peaks.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be studying abroad right now? Traveling the world? Going on vacation in the Bahamas? But what about how insane Merrimack College Homecoming seemed like it was in a monsoon? And at times, what if I got an actual adult job and could afford an apartment with my friends?

But what about the other side of this same coin. We never see the struggles that come with these great moments. In the same beat as studying abroad, what about how hard it is to integrate into a new culture and also learn a new language at the same time. What if you missed your flight between countries and was stuck in the airport all day. We never consider how many hours of work is put in before we can afford a great vacation in the Bahamas. And at long last, the stress of school and then the daily grind wears away at the human soul.

But why do I bring this up? Isn’t this all about living and feeling alive? Yes, yes it is. Take pride in the small things we do everyday.

Step back. Look at the big picture. Own the process. Stop skating through the motions at half speed, but rather chase the things that set your soul on fire. Never stop growing. The difference between just living and feeling alive is a state of mind. Are we simply drones becoming one and the same? Or will we rise and become the great people we were meant to be.

Are we just human, or are we dancer? Let’s dance each day away in this beautiful life.

Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn

Bruce Wayne: Criminals aren’t complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he’s after.

Alfred Pennyworth: With respect Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man that *you* don’t fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So, we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anybody who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: So why steal them?

Alfred Pennyworth: …some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

-The Dark Knight (2008)

They have no rhyme or reason. They just want to cause chaos where they can, when they can.

In this world we have people who transcend common sense and do things that we have tried to make obsolete or want to phase out. They make a scene or hurl an insult at someone not because they want to create something; its just because they can. That is the simple fact. Its just because they have the ability combined with no control of anything that creates a toxic combination.

If you think about 2018 in a nutshell, that is simply why we are going to hell in a hand basket. We have a lot of people burning our world. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few examples;

  • Separating families at the US-Mexico Boarder
  • Basically attacking the LGBTQIA community
  • Mass Shootings
  •  Hate (there are too many types which again makes the world burn)
  • Sexual Misconduct Cases
  • etc

The list goes on but these are just some that i think kindle the fire really well.

Now what is frustrating is the fact that you really cant reason with these actions. No person, place or thing will ever fall into a category that is easy to explain. Is Trump that stupid, an ass-hat, or is he very much that evil? We will never be able to reason with him or his thoughts. Of course there will be consequences, but how do you implement them when they are people who have nothing to lose?

This doesn’t just go for the President, it goes for everyone.

The people may be angry and create some heinous things and nightmares in our world, but we can still be the ones who put out the fire they have created.

We can be the people when hate speech is a headliner, we can respond with love and acceptance of those who are targeted by the haters. When we see the demonetization of  people because we are afraid of them taking jobs or committing crimes when in fact they are searching for the American dream generations of our family members fought for, we need to be able to give them the tools to create a better life not the tools to turn around at the boarder of their dreams. When the guns begin to fire and take lives, we can be the ones that implement an obscene thing called reason.

We can be the ones that put out the fires

So even if people are gonna just watch the world burn, we can just move past them and put the fires out. I challenge those who are reading this to take up leadership, to take up a “fire extinguisher” and go into the world and create some sense of peace among the disorder and concern.  It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just the small stuff, the small stuff always matters.

What you should never do is feed the fire.

To feed the fire is to fear the chance of change. 

You Can’t Help Everyone.

“Everyone is just waiting to be saved.”

I like to think that when someone is struggling, many would jump at the chance to step up and help them out. We feel like a hero, a great savior to the issue. Whenever in the future someone would need you, their first choice is yo without a doubt. This is what you would dream about.

It doesn’t always happen like this

Some will just be to far gone for you to do anything that can make a change noticeable, at least noticeable to you.

You should not feel as if the world is on your shoulders to play doctor, marriage counselor, or adviser to people who are in trouble or are suffering from something or someone. No one is Atlas, you can’t keep the sky from crashing into the world. The weight will push you into the ground, no matter how strong your stance is to hold the world up, and put you into the same position as those you are trying to help. Nullifying the rhyme and reason of your efforts. Its one of the hardest things to do, realizing you cant help everyone, but its a fact of life that needs to be taught. Even to those with the biggest hearts.

I never like letting people down, never have never will. 

What i had to learn the hard way is that you really cant help everyone. It is just too high of a bar to reach. By trying to help everyone you give up so much of yourself that sometimes cant be recognizable. I remember looking into the mirror one morning and i look at a shell of  a man that i once was. My hair was falling out, i looked like i gain 40 years and i wasn’t myself. What was i becoming? i was becoming drained of what i loved to do and it soon didn’t interest me, being the one that reaches out to help, anymore.  I realized that my stance wasn’t strong, my arms began to fault me, and i could hold the weight of the world on my shoulders anymore.  It began to hurt everything.

The realization of not being able to help everyone sucks. There will be times where you will have to be forced to watch your friends suffer. That’s ok, that is what this world is about.  Its what you do after o help them recover. This is not a story of giving up, its a story of how not to give in. Of course you should still reach out to help someone, of course you can play counselor, whats not ok is to go in it alone. You need back up, you need people who will pick you up when your stance fails you and your arms begin to become tired, and someone to help carry parts of the world on your shoulders with you. We get good people in this world who has your back, you might as well help them carry your load. In turn when they need help with their stance, their arms; you’ll be there to help carry part of their world off their shoulders.

Is that not that the best part of being human?

 

I am a Cynic

 cyn·i·cal 

  1. believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.

I got called a cynic in my college freshman year theology class by oddly enough one of my favorite professors ever. “Mr. Gill, the cynic” he said to the class. I like the ring to that, but i really did not think that i was a cynic and until in recent years it has grown on me because well;

I agree with it.

I am a proud cynic because i have lost faith.  I lost faith in people when it became apparent to me that motives beat out mankind’s desire to help thy neighbor. We put our own gains above the needs that are mattering the most in this world. I am just sick of it and i doubt what can be true or what can be used for gain. It seems like nothing i true an even tho you are my comrade, i think your motives will promote you and damage me. The other aspect of being a cynic is we keep the world honest. WE do not take the world at face value, we want evidence, we want all the things that can make something worth it so we can be the judge of it. Sometime things can get passed off too quickly because they look good and not realistic. That is not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. You have to be realistic and not give the people bs.

I guess you can say its a bad way to look at humanity and its similar to looking through dirty glasses, the picture isn’t all that clear. You can say the fact that i need to look on the brighter side of life or i need to get a attitude change. Maybe that’s a valid point or maybe you are not seeing what i am saying.

I do not look for the bad in people, i just believe 9/10 they do selfish things. I feel as if they do not want to mutually succeed with the rest of humanity. Like how hard is it to be honest and sincere to each other? If we were better at this i don’t think i would be so cynical of this world. I don’t see enough of the selfless acts and i understand that not all is seen, but why do we hide these acts? Why not do something nice in the open so all can see. You don’t need a medal or a key to the city in thanks, but we can start to express gratitude in simplistic ways. I am a cynic because i have seen people who say they would do anything for someone but when i ask for help i get sent through the metaphorical wringer to get a sliver of what i gave earlier. I don’t stand the fakers. My opinion will not be lenient people suck. I am not perfect, i will be first to call my imperfections out but calling yourself a saint does not cleanse you of the sin. You cant say things and let down on your word. Its all you have in this world.

To say the least, i am the happiest man when i get proven wrong. Its what we want to be, is proven wrong. I love to be proven wrong by something that upstages my cynicism about people. “Did that person really return that money? they did, wow.” Something along the lines of that is great or when we get a upstanding politician in the world for a change. (Thanks Norm). When you can prove a cynic wrong, i like to think you corrupt our perception of the world. Which in this case is a good thing. I think it should be a thing to actively try and corrupt cynics. It makes the world a little better. We are the ones who have lost faith, lost trust in sincerity, and it should be society who brings us back into a different mindset. Until that happens, ill sit in my rocking chair and just try to trust again but ill enjoy my cup cynicism in the morning because its what taste best to me.