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Living My Dignified American Life

By Sun Yan

Today I had an online chat with a friend who lived in Beijing. He asked me how long I had been in the U.S., and when I replied about 20 some years, he exclaimed, “There you are living a dignified life!”

This sentence resounded in my ears and wouldn’t leave my mind.

It’s my opinion that leading a dignified life should be a person’s minimum demands of life, yet it is also one of the highest aspirations for life, because this requirement cannot be met in many places. To live a dignified life is not only the purpose of my immigration to America, but also the pursuit of my life. Frankly, I do not have any lofty ideals and aspirations other than to live a dignified life, and I can say that I definitely have that in the United States.

In America, I do not have to bend to cater to any one person. Powerful people have nothing to do with me;  I am free and independent. Back in China, I had to bribe my boss during the holidays to have a chance of moving up in the company, but in the U.S., I’m not obligated to give my boss a gift; rather,  sometimes, my boss would give me a gift. In the States, my thoughts are free. I no longer have to worry about whether or not my thoughts are the same as others’. In the United States, I can easily cross the crosswalk, and even expensive luxury cars would have to give me the right of way. I do not curry favor to my child’s teacher; the teacher and my child are good friends. I do not have to fear the police, knowing instead that if I have difficulties, I can ask them for help. I can safely eat food and know that the food is clean and healthy. I can breathe without worrying about toxins. I can go shopping at ease in the United States, even if I have nothing to buy. This will not frowned upon or even ridiculed. In the United States, I do not have to say anything that I do not believe in. While many people take these things for granted, for someone like me who lived for many years without them, they are splendid luxuries.

What I want to live is a dignified life. This life is plentiful.

About Michael Yang

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