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Love for freedom

I was quite tired and tried to cope with my jetlag whereas my Uber driver seems quite chatty. He asked me if I was from Vietnam (I realize my name is apprently very Vietnamese, every single time I say my name, people can guess my originality immediately!) and how my life is there etc. I politely asked where he is from and this is where the story got interesting.


His name is Long. He has been in US with his family for 2 years now. He had been a political asylum till recently he was granted refugee status. In fact, BBC & ABC also wrote about his story recently.


The first question I asked him was why he did that, given the senior role he held back in his country (assistant of editor in chief of one of the most popular newspapers in his city, yes, I googled it!) and the big house and good life his family were enjoying.


Yet he gave up everything to come to America.


For one simple reason - the freedom of speech and human rights.


He told me about his spiritual pain where he had to write what the government wanted him to write even it was just morally wrong, that he wanted to help others but he couldn't because of the political situations. His hands were tied and he had been suffering this pain for many years till one day he decided enough is enough.

That was when he sold his home and convinced his wife and the 2 kids to leave everything for America. His wife fully supports him because she also could feel his pain.


The moment he walked out of the plane, he could smell the freedom, he shared.


I thought the smelling of freedom is just in textbooks that I learned from when I was young and it's indeed a real thing. You can really smell and feel the freedom.


I asked for his permission to write this story because this is also love, a different kind of love, the love of freedom of speech, the love of basic human rights.


And for this love, Long was willing to give up everything including the love for power and the love for all materialistic things in his life.




A week later, in another Lyft ride, I was chatting with another passenger about world politics. I told her that after the 2016 election, I stopped reading all the news as they just make me angry. It's kinda my way to escape the frustration and to enjoy more things in life. She told me that while it's a good way to run away from challenging situations that we think sometimes are not in our control, if we don't do anything, nothing will change. We all need to take actions, regardless of the sizes, to make things happen.


She reminded me of another friend after the 2016 election, instead of being sad and angry, he has been patiently explain and debate with his friends who do not share the same beliefs and point of views. In fact, I met him 2 days ago and I actually told him how I admired his patience and courage to embrace different opinions and have a civil conversation about them.


Thank you Long, my fellow Lyft passenger and my friend for teaching me that change starts within myself first and we all have a role to play in creating change.


The best way to complain is to make things (copying from my office's poster :)

What are waiting for?

What will you do for love?


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