Thinking of AmericansĀ 

Builders, 

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Above, I hold my father’s hand as he sleeps. This is the hand which held me the day I was born, the hand which taught me to write, the hand that shook mine the day I graduated from College. In this hour I sit beside his bed and consider with great humility, just how small my life would have been without him. 

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Pearl Buck was an American woman with very progressive ideas on the value of human lives, particularly the lives of the voiceless impoverished of Asia. In 1938 she was awarded the Noble Prize for literature, for her novel “The Good Earth.”  Buck was deeply concerned with the rights of women at a time when the world was not.

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After WWII, Buck used her power and wealth to set up orphanages, schools and adoption agencies across Asia, focused on caring for mixed race children who were treated as unadoptable and without human value, not just in their countries, but sadly in ours as well. 

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The year I was born, there was a girl born in the slums of Manilla. As an Amer-Asian she had  no value nor future in her society.  By great fortune, the Pearl Buck Foundation had a place for her. A cynic could question the value of such places, even say it isn’t an Americans place to impose our values in other cultures. A cynic could do this, but I can’t for the simplest of reasons: that tiny girl in Manilla is today the highly experienced pulmonary Doctor who is directing the care of my father tonight.

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In a season where it has become acceptable to proclaim that America is either a commercial enterprise worshiping wealth or a playground for empathy-free narsisists, it is good to pause and remind ourselves the America which is worthy of our devotion is actually a set of ideals, focused on the human rights of individuals and the common humanity of people. 

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While there are is large number of people born in this land who have willfully forgotten this, I can assure you there are many people in the world who understand that America, although flawed, is still the shining city on the hill, a land of ideals which has produced and shielded many champions of human dignity. A person exposed to just popular culture and media could cynically question this, but I have met a woman in New Jersey who could change their mind.

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-ww.

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