A Cup of Compromise

Joshua Allen Ko, Winner
11th Grade
El Cerrito

Calligraphy strokes filled my mind when I found myself sitting in a hard aluminum fold-up chair in a windowless room, trying to crack a difficult code. Dozens of Chinese characters lined the page, and five other students studied silently as I alone aimed to phrase the right words, the right phrases, to communicate properly. Our nation faces similar struggles. We’ve become so well known for being the melting pot with the perfect blend of races and cultures that when we try to improve and develop its flavor, everything falls out of balance: a dash of hateful opinion here, a pinch of negativity there; among a laundry list of other components.

My grandma gets whatever needed to make sure her family is healthy. One severe cold ago, I was healed not only by Western medicine, but by a herbal tea found by my ah mah in Chinatown. The taste is not fruit-flavored; in fact, they’re all as fu as the bitter in fu gua (“bitter melon”). The daunting task of being a president, let alone the first Asian-American president, requires our nation to drink a tall metaphorical mug of bitter tea. Chinese practitioners say it works so well is because of how natural and pure a state it’s in.

What is the sickness? Comment boards expose our worst, unleashing our feelings anonymously, with sarcastic, mean, and sometimes completely illogical claims. The Republican and Democrat parties have been dragging our budget into a possible sequester. This Congressional divide only reflects the partisan divide that is finally beginning to take a greater notice in our nation. We ARE a divided nation. Our beliefs are so strong that verbal wars are beginning to ensue, not only politically, but also in more and more aspects of our lives, continually infecting our united nation.

Compromise won’t make everyone happy, and it’s often as difficult to swallow as a cup of lum chung cha. But it will create a greater sense of unity; promoting no longer a cacophony of dissonant rhythms, but rather, a chorus of voices blending their different tones and sounds together to make something magical and magnificent – a perfect balance of yin and yang. Creating this atmosphere requires programs to stimulate interest/debate about our government, education reform to create an informed citizenry who refuse to be held hostage by screaming heads and partisan propaganda and fight for the truth, and an executive order asking members of Congress to talk to their constituents through town hall meetings and other forms of face-to-face communication. Coming from a Chinese-American, Chinese is sometimes incredibly vast and complex and confusing. But before we can make our country a better place, we must jump out of our comfort zone to drink the tea of compromise, a flavor often bitter to start with and all too easy to taint. But in its purest form, we stand together, declaring independence and fighting for equality – great accomplishments – and our pot gets even more flavorful, the aroma so wonderful you’ll pour yourself another cup.