I am an immigrant from Taiwan, whose family is originally from China. They left in 1949 when Mao Zedong and the Communist Party came to power. So, my grandparents, and my mother, who was just a baby, were political refugees fleeing their homeland in fear of a dictator.

I came to the United States in 1973. I have known the U.S. as “mei guo” in Mandarin, which translates to “beautiful country,” before I ever called it America or the United States. But what we witnessed on Jan. 6 was anything but beautiful.

As children we are taught that when we lose, we do not flip the game board or punch the opposing player. We say, “good game.” We shake hands. We learn that you don’t win every time, even when you believe you deserve to win. And we intrinsically know the difference between right and wrong. What we saw on Jan. 6 was wrong on every level. It was not justified, it was not normal, and it is not acceptable in any sense, form, or fashion.

Still, we heard people calling the rioters and insurrectionists “patriots” — people physically attacking our capitol, assaulting police, brandishing Confederate flags and erecting nooses, destroying property, menacing the public in an attempt to upend a democratically determined election.

So, here’s a quote from Johannes Rau (a German political leader who died in 2006) that I feel defines patriotism: “Patriotism can flourish only where racism and nationalism are given no quarter. We should never mistake patriotism for nationalism. A patriot is one who loves his homeland. A nationalist is one who scorns the homelands of others.” 

I hope we can find ways to encourage and support each other during these difficult times, and learn from the bad to help us create more good.

Terrence Cheng

South Salem

Editor’s note: The author is a member of the Katonah-Lewisboro Board of Education. 

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