Chinese New Year and Trump: An essay on family

The last two days have been a confluence of two completely different and important topics, that somehow have a common thread.

Saturday was the start of Chinese New Year, the most important holiday season around this part of the world. China takes about two weeks off for the holidays, and accordingly almost everything grinds to halt around the region.

As much as I don't celebrate this new year, I have come to appreciate the opportunity it affords to focus on family. The main custom around Chinese New Year is to call and visit immediate and extended family, to have meals and come together as family. To get stuffed with food. To do nothing but just hang out. Think of Thanksgiving, times 5x.

I juxtapose the bonding of family during Chinese New Year with the recent events in the USA with Trump's Executive orders on immigration. That action has disrupted the lives of Muslim and non-Muslim families, simply based on birthplace. It has caused uproar in my tech community that is part of my family. It has shaken my belief in the family values of the United States, a nation of values that the United States Army forged in me with blood and sweat when I served. That belief, and that of others, will take a long time to get to a better place, to my disappointment.

Family is a funny thing. There was once a time I didn't think that it was important, probably owing to my independent streak and my mother passing away young. But as I grow older, go into my 10th year of marriage, have a young Vera to guide, and lead Zeroth, I realize family is tremendously important. It's like the fascia of the muscular system, the force in the Star Wars universe. Family is the glue that binds us, the invisible bond that keeps us together.

And there is a real cost when family trust is violated. Maybe the effects aren't visible in the short term, but in the long term they are. The stuff you need family to help on, from helping to look after kids to having someone to lean on, just aren't available because the trust was compromised in the short term. If you don't water a plant everyday, the damn thing just isn't going to grow into a tree, no matter what you do.

I have no illusions what Trump wants to do. And a significant part of the United States community is also aligned to his aspirations. That community is his family, he caters to their demands, and he has the mandate. But by doing so, he has violated the the larger family mandate that represents the United States. That is not only his choice, but the choice he represents.

My choice is different. My values are drastically different. I believe in hard work, inclusiveness, and diversity. A fair shot in things. In transparency and honesty. In integrity and doing the right thing, even if it's hard. In self-sacrifice. In thinking of the good in people.

Those are my values and they are my family's values.