My Ven Ven, a blessing in disguise

(C.V. CHEN 陳長文)

Dear Ven Ven,

You have taught us perseverance.

With this letter, I hope I can tell you how much you are our pride and joy. You are our special gift from God. You have brought us tears, pain, as well as laughter, which only bring us closer together as a family. We accept you as you are and embrace your difference with open arms. Your love and endearment in return give us strength and purpose. Because of you, we have truly been blessed.

From the minute you open your eyes each morning, you face challenges that we take for granted everyday. You struggle to accomplish tasks that others complete without effort. For every little “miracle” you achieve, you cheer and applaud yourself with such pure joy that we can’t help but feel your excitement and happiness as if they were our own. Your struggles have taught us there are no challenges too great to overcome and you have shown us perseverance that we thought only “super heroes” possessed.

Yet, you never seem to care if others look at you differently; you greet them with respect and sincerity before anyone greets you. I have seen how your sincerity and innocence have melted strangers’ hearts and helped them open up to you and learn to love like you. You have provided our family a new perspective — a perspective into the mission that God has given us. Without your inspiration, I would not have seized the opportunity to commit to work with the Red Cross, to do my part in helping those like you who need a little support. I shudder at the thought that had I missed this opportunity, I would have forever missed the chance to do something truly meaningful.

I hope that other families with angels like you could also appreciate that disabled children are not a shame or punishment. We must respect our children first before expecting anyone else to. And, we must believe that we are stronger than others and have been chosen to take on this important task of raising these special angels. They move us with their purity and sincerity, and patiently wait for us to discover the things that are truly meaningful.

I often think that those with power or wealth would benefit from having a child like you at home. This is not meant to be a curse; on the contrary, I sincerely mean for it to be a blessing. Only by having angels like you in their lives can they truly relate and sympathize with families of much lesser means and understand what they go through each day. And only then will they discover how much joy they can bring to those in dire need. Only in this way will they, with all their influence and resources, understand what a waste it was for them not to have used their power to do good.

Many people at the peak of their career or the top of their field often live under the illusion that they are invincible and, inevitably, feel that philanthropy can wait. But in reality, life is fragile; regardless of whether you are an average citizen, or the ruler of a sovereign state, life can come to an end very unexpectedly and abruptly. And when that time comes, one can only lament what one “could have done.”

I believe that if our politicians had children like you, they would be less likely to squander billions of dollars of public money on seemingly meaningless projects, such as military spending for national security or bribing lobbyists for buying foreign “friendships,” and more likely to devote more of our valuable resources to improving our social welfare systems and the lives of families with children with disabilities.

The opportunity to do good has no limit; there are the elderly, the mentally ill and many, many others who are in need. We have the ability to reach out to other countries and share our love with the whole world. I sincerely wish that the Commonwealth State as described in the Classic of Rites by Confucius could be achieved: “There is a means of support for the widows and the widowers; for all who find themselves alone in the world and for the disabled.”

You have taught us that suffering often stems from loving ourselves too much.

A quote that appears at the end of each of my e-mails by Kahlil Gibran says a person is no more than a drifting speck of dust if he can not love or be loved. I like it because it reminds me of you.

I believe that the pain people feel is often self-inflicted, caused by self-pity and selfishness. Those people are too self-absorbed and therefore incapable of giving or accepting love. They don’t realize that, to experience true happiness, you must be willing to embrace others and be embraced.

Because of you, Ven, our love has found its purpose. And because of you, we have the privilege of basking in your unending affection. I honestly believe that I am able to love others better because of the way you have loved me.

Let us pray that everyone will learn from you, and those like you, how to love and be loved. It is the only way that life will not whisk by like a speck of dust, but instead, blossom into an eternal spring of joy.

You are our dearest Ven Ven. Thank you for loving us with all your being. With all our affection,

Daddy, Mommy and your sister Theresa.
C.V. Chen is president of the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China and a former secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation.

Friday, Aug 08, 2008, Page 8
Editor’s note: This is an open letter from C.V. Chen to his son, who is mentally and physically challenged. Taipei Times presents this to mark Father’s Day.

【2008/08/28 Taipei Times 970828】

中文版Chinese Ver. 〈陳長文給愛子文文的一封信〉