My wife and 2 sons went to China for a few weeks last month. Upon their return, they met a Chinese family who had immigrated from China to the U.S. in 2007 after the father of the family had made a fortune buying land and developing it in Shanghai between late 1999 and 2006. The man, originally a university professor and member of the communist party had bought equivalant of 6 acres of land in Shanghai for $700,000 (with help of his family in the U.S.), developed 3 condo complexes (each one 30 stories) on the land and sold the 360 condos for God knows how much. Any how, he had become rich beyond his wildest dreams.
In 2007 this family met a Persian family in Irvine who happened to be Bahais. Among one of the principles of the Bahai religion these people discussed was the idea or principle of “elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth” as a goal for today’s and future societies.
Now normally Chinese are known to be very materialistic and money hungry. Believe me if someone would have asked me to assign a few attributes to the Chinese, I would have said stingy or money hungry. Any how, after thinking about this idea for a few months, this Chinese guy decided that for him and his family 25% of his newly accummulated wealth was enough to live on, very comfortably. So, in early 2008 he decided to use 75% of his wealth to build 80 rural homes, a couple of schools and a health clinic in the village he was born in. Interestingly enough, he names the school and the clinic after the kids of this Bahai family. The clinic is called “the Adeeb clinic for Children” and the name of the daughter/school scapes me now.
Don’t worry, the Chinese family didn’t become Bahais. I haven’t become one yet and I am not trying to do indirect advertising for Bahais. But this story sort of touched my heart. Someone, generally known for his love of money, becoming so moved by a principle or an idea that gives up much of his personal and family wealth for well being of others. I hope one day I gain that level of humanity and maturity. As the Chinese saying goes, even the longest journey starts with the first step.