This is part 2 of our report on Dr. Esther Lee, who is the former U.S. Dept. of Education Deputy Director and former President George Bush election committee's Asian-American affair director. She shared how Chinese Christians in America can exert their influence in American politics and education at the River of Life Christian Church Global Impact Conference earlier this month. For Part 1, check back over here.
Chinese-Americans Have No Political Power, Need to Raise Political Sense
Lee said that Chinese-Americans have little voice and power in political arena, so that’s why she think Chinese-American should get involved. Although there are more Chinese than the Japanese and Jews in the United States, the representation of Chinese is lesser. In Congress, only two House reps are Chinese and none in the senate, but, proportionately speaking, Chinese representation should be greater than that of Japanese and Jewish.
She also explained the changing political landscape in the Silicon Valley, where a new group of wealthy activists like Sean Parker, Ron Conway, Mark Zuckerberg, and Joe Green have emerged. These activists' assets exceed that of all oil or gas lobby efforts. Lee hopes that more Chinese-American citizens can come out to support the Republican candidates, who are pro-life and oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage – policies that are supported by Christian values.
According to Lee’s introduction, Santa Clara County has Arabian, Jewish, and Hispanic Republican groups, but has no Asian-American groups. She hopes that someone can form an Asian-American group and Republican Party in this region.
Lee said in the society, 90% of the people would do nothing, but among the remaining 10%, 5% would take immediate action while the other 5% will wait and eventually take action.
Must Participate in All Aspects of Education
Chinese parents value education highly, but don’t participate in the areas where children are influenced as they are raised. Lee said that her daughter married an atheist and was led to become an atheist. She deeply realized that even though a child may be born in a Christian family, where parents felt they have done their duty to teach their children, but it doesn’t guarantee their future friends, colleagues, or spouses will not negatively influence them to the point of abandoning their faith.
Therefore, Lee encouraged Chinese Christians to participate in all aspects of the children’s education: family and school education, and the influence of mass media and social networks, etc.
Speaking of her daughter and son-in-law, she is not simply ignoring them, but neither is she forcing them to believe in Jesus. With love and service, she would help them during times of need. Although she had her share of conflicts and bad experiences through the process, she prays and knows that in the end she will be held accountable to God.
How to Participate and Things to Watch for
Lee shared her practical experiences in participating in politics and education.
The first step to get involved in politics is to help with campaign first. Those elected would respect the opinions of their supporters. If one would like to run, one can choose to get involved in local, state, and federal level. Although the most direct way to participate is to run for office, a politician’s power is often times limited by the voice of the supporters. By helping a campaign, supporting the candidate, and being active in the party is actually very effective.
“You can be the power behind the throne, like Mark Zuckerberg. He is behind Obama. He can tell Obama what to do. Obama will listen to him not all the time or 100%, but he will listen to Zuckerberg,” she said.
For helping with election, Lee gave the following recommendations:
1. Chinese people like to be non-partisan or independent, but it is no such thing, she said, emphasizing the importance of choosing a party. Chinese people tend to choose candidate based upon their positions or issues. However, it is impossible to get involved this way. One must get into party politics and get to know the people, stay with their candidate of choice at primary all the way to November to gain their trust.
2. Try to support younger candidates, because even if they lose, the chances that they would run again are significantly higher.
About participating in education, Lee suggested to begin locally, such as participating in school activities to gain experiences; going into the Chinese community to serve and seek for leadership positions. Then, actively go into the mainstream circles and actively fight for opportunities and setup more networks.
Lee also presented the analysis of various roadblocks and importance of certain social etiquettes. Meanwhile, she reminded the audience the importance of maintaining a good relationship with God, seeking for Holy Spirit’s guidance, allowing it to become a firm foundation and source of motivation.
“Regardless of what the external environment, you always trust in God and you are held accountable to God. People may say you should do this or not do that, but if God told me that it is wrong thing to do, then I’m not going to do it. Because, eventually, God will look at our records, we should be honest and be humble all the time.”
“A lot of time you don’t where you are heading… so you got to really seek God’s will. A lot of people just take advantage or become opportunists. I don’t believe in that. In short-term, you may have bad bet, but in the long-term you are held accountable to God.”
“Sometimes we have to trust in God that he has a plan for all of us. We just have to listen. Sometimes we don’t see the total picture. I use the analogy of a puzzle. When you take one piece, you don’t see everything until you see the last piece. You can almost see what the ending will be, but we don’t know.”
Lastly, she asked the audience to search for state wide event on Google, and begin taking concrete actions to participate and exert their influences to the society.