NOTE: This post is contributed by Lily Tang Williams a frequent guest on our show and registered member of the Libertarian Party
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Rong born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China right before the “Cultural Revolution.” Her parents were both uneducated; working full time six days per week for the state factories. The local government issued food ration coupons for them monthly to buy small amounts of pork (2.2 lbs. for a family of five), sugar, rice and wheat flour, etc.
Rong lived with her parents and two younger brothers in government housing which had just two small rooms with an outdoor kitchen. There was no indoor plumbing and heating. The free housing had a mud floor, good for growing mushrooms. Eight families in the community shared one water pump, one bathroom (a hole on the ground for all males, and one for all females.) When a light bulb busted, nobody replaced it for a long time. Rong was very scared to go to the bathroom at night.
When Rong turned 6 years old, she was so excited to go to school. Her parents bribed her with a movie ticket to ask her to delay school for one year so she could babysit her youngest brother who was one year’s old. Her parents could not afford government daycare. She cried for three days but felt obligated to help the family and she did babysit for one year at home alone with her baby brother.
Due to this delay, Rong became an extremely motivated student in school, she often made 100% in each of her subjects. However, she became very unhappy when the teacher told her that she could not join the “Young Pioneers” because she was not humble enough (she bragged about her top grades to her friends in school). She learned a hard lesson at a young age: she must conform and keep her thoughts to herself. She did everything right after that: writing conforming diaries, memorizing Mao’s quotations, reciting political slogans, trying to be politically correct all the time. Rong truly believed in what she was taught in school and home: Mao was like a God, the Communist Party saved China, and all bad people should be eliminated.
Mao died and the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. Two years later, the Communist Party admitted that Mao was a human and the Cultural Revolution was a mistake. Rong was totally lost at age of 14. At least, the colleges reopened and Rong had a new dream; passing the national college entrance exam to go to the best university in China. After three years hard work and test preparations, she did well enough in the national college entrance exams (three long days) and was accepted to attend a state college of her first choice, Fudan University in Shanghai, to study law. She had an ambition to transform China from a society of the rule of men to a society of the rule of law.
When Rong was in Fudan, she quickly became disappointed that the law she had to learn was a Soviet Union model. She became socially rebellious. She tried to make friends with some foreign students on campus eager to learn from them what the world was like outside of China. One American student showed her the “Declaration of Independence.” Even with her limited English skills, she could understand most of these words: “We hold these truths to be self –evident….” Rong had never heard those words before but she loved them so much that she spent many hours with this American friend to learn more about those new concepts and about America. She started to use those words and concepts when she argued with her professors, and later when she had to fight with her Communist Party bosses after she became a faculty member of the law school. Rong’s mind was open and her eyes were shining. She could not go back to her old way of thinking and living. She had a new dream: she wanted to go to America, the country that holds these words dearly and the people are free.
Rong made it to America in 1988. She is fighting fiercely today to defend the “Declaration of Independence” and those beautiful words that saved her from her enslaved mind and made her choosing America as her new country. She wrote this article to share her story to remind Americans why we should all care about the “Declaration of Independence.”