The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


Dad imported designer accessories from the Orient.  He would make an annual six week buying trip there and I always hated when the spring came because he was gone on business.  This was in the early sixties.  But eventually, the trip would end and there was always a wonderful present of some kind for me.

I remember that the day he came home one year, grandma had made a wonderful dinner.  We were all so full that we sat at the table far longer than was customary – trying to digest the meal and her famous apple strudel that was the grand finale.

As we sat there, dad said to me – “You don’t know how grateful each of us should be.”  I remember looking at him – waiting to see what he meant by that remark.

He said, “You know the wonderful wooden Eight Immortal gods that I have down at the showroom?”  I did know them since I would help dad process orders on the weekends – pulling stock from inventory to go to the shipping department – or even assisting in the billing department.

“Those are hand-carved in Taiwan by a man whose name is Mr. Leung.  Before I left on my trip I received a letter from him asking that when I was in Taipei he would be greatly honored if I came to his house for a meal.  He wanted to show me something.”

Dad went to Mr. Leung’s home for dinner one night.  It was in a very poor area in Taipei.  Dad knew that Mrs. Leung had probably spent more on this meal in order to entertain a guest properly than the family would spend on all their food in a typical week.

Mr. Leung lived in a very small house.  Dad estimated that it was perhaps 15’ x 25’.  When I say that Mr. Leung lived there I mean that Mr. Leung and his wife, their two children, Mr. Leung’s father and his wife’s mother lived there.

At the conclusion of the meal, Mr. Leung took dad’s hand and brought him over to what I guess could best be described as the “kitchen area”.  He had a huge smile on his face as he pointed to a water tap.  He looked at my father, made a polite bow and said, “Thanks to your wonderful orders for my carvings – I was able to put a water faucet in our home.  Now my wife and children no longer have to walk a half kilometer to the well in order to get fresh water for us to use.  Thank you my good, honorable customer.  You have changed our lives.”

I truly hope that someone in the Occupy Wall Street movement happens upon this post and shares it with his or her fellow protestors.

I’m sure they have Wi-Fi.


Comments on: "ON GRATITUDE" (2)

  1. You write with such clarity and purpose.

  2. Thank you for your very kind words. I guess after all these years I may have developed at least one worthwhile skill.

    And for that I am grateful.

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