Friday, March 13, 2009

Practice Enlightened Self-interest

A sizable fraction of us do NOT practice enlightened self-interest (ESI). That hurts us all, including those who are selfish to the core and think that they are smart.

WHY? If one thinks of self-interest ONLY, then the groups one belongs to (ethnic community, society, state, nation, and the world) will likely be WEAKER. For Asian Ams that is the biggest reason that our collective political clout was so weak. That is why we are discriminated against in workplaces resulting in the GLASS CEILING.

What is enlightened self-interest, ESI?

ESI can be practiced in 3 forms. (1) One works for self-interest ONLY, but takes care not to hurt the group interest. (2) One tries to combine self-interest with that of the group. (3) One may even sacrifice self-interest occasionally in order to improve the group interest, knowing that the enlarged group interest will in turn help his/her self-interest. An example is paying 80-20 dues so that 80-20'll have more clout to fight for our equal citizenship.

At least 1/3 of Asian Americans, especially the educated ones, i.e. several million people, have heard of what 80-20 has achieved in its fight for equal rights for Asian Ams. The perception about 80-20 is mostly favorable. However. how many people have paid $35 per year or more to support 80-20's operating expenses (no Board member including me gets paid)? 2,000 members only, when we work like hell in recruiting!

Another example is the response to our last e-newsletter entitled "Letter to Labor Sec. Solis." Afterwards, we got a few members and a few "thank you" letters, which 80-20 is grateful for. However, we also got 10 emails asking 80-20 to help them secure government positions, or help fight their personal court cases -- none of them is a member. One was a professor at an IVY League medical school whom 80-20 has helped before. Now he/she wants more help including my personal time. Is he/she a member? NO!

That reminds me of a "Barber and Asian Ams" satire that a member sent to me in 2001. It made me laugh and cry all at the same time:

Barber & Asian Americans

There is this barber in the US. One day a Caucasian florist goes to him for a haircut. After the cut, he goes to pay the barber. The barber replies: "No charge today. I am doing community service." The florist is happy and left. The next morning the barber finds a "Thank you" card and a dozen roses waiting at his shop door. An African American cop goes for a haircut and got the same "community service treatment." The cop is happy and left. The next morning the barber finds a "Thank you" card and a dozen donuts waiting at his shop door. An Asian Software Engineer goes for a haircut and he also got the "community service treatment" The next morning when the barber goes to open his shop, guess what he finds there. A dozen Asians waiting for a free Haircut.

Those who don't have the above mentality can laugh and cry with me. Others of us may want to use this satire as a mirror.

Why am I sending this brunt piece with a tart taste?

Blowing off my steam? No. Wanting to have more members? Yes, but there is a more important reason. 80-20 may have gathered some political clout to fight effectively for our EQUAL citizenship today. However, so long as not enough of us understand "ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTEREST," 80-20 can lose that ability to fight for your equal rights very quickly.

Please practiced ESI. Join 80-20. Go Or send your check to 80-20 PAC, PO Box 22509, Philadelphia, PA 19110.

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S. B. Woo
Acting Exec. Director of 80-20 PAC, Inc.

Quotation From a Reader: "The embarrassing 80-20 membership count shows vividly that very few Asian Americans, even the highly educated ones,understand this process. Perhaps, they are afraid of some kind of imaginary consequence? Perhaps. it is due to their lack of confidence in the democratic system in U.S.A.?? It is ironic that many of them would not hesitate to spend $200,000 for their child's college tuition (sound familiar ?), but they would not pay $35 for the 80-20 annual membership, also for the future benefit of their child. "
- - - - - - Kien Hua