My response to “Religion and Gender”

              Reading the chapter “Religion and Gender,” of the book The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach by Moojan Momen, I feel astonished because there is some information that I have never heard before in my religion, Christianity. For example, it is mentioned that women are represented body (bad side) while men are associated with spirit (good part) and that Eve is believed to be inferior to Adam (Momen 436). However, as I have learned from my community, Adam was not superior to Eve, and they do not blame for Eve as woman to persuade Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. Rather, I have been taught that they were both human beings, so they were easy to have sins like any other people. In addition, inside each person, male or female, there are always two parts, body and spirit. Actually, bodies are connected to bad things whereas spirits are holy. There is nothing related to gender discrimination, but men and women are equally treated by Jesus Christ.

            I find that the ideology was made of human beings who mistranslated God’s words. This is societies that have misled a lot of people to a wrong way because they have strength and social status. How could people exploit their power to change the truth? I feel indignant for women in the past who were strongly discriminated against. Why has there always been inequality in our societies? Why can people live peacefully together without dominating each other? Particularly, how can they treat women partially while they are also the other side of the whole world? Without women, how can humans’ lives continue? I wonder when the world is free of fallacies about the power and the importance of women. Therefore, I think we can totally change these fallacies one day if we together make our effort.

             As a student having chances to study these things, I feel myself responsible for escalating woman statuses in our societies. However, in my opinion, we need to focus on obtaining equity among everyone, not on retaliating by endeavoring to dominate men again. The important thing is to make all people understand their fallacies of making stereotypes over women. It is a very good step that in some religions, women have started to have stance and raised their voices for themselves. Hope that we can see the brighter world without discrimination against women in the near future.

                                                                    Works Cited

Momen, Moojan. The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach. Oxford, 

                England: Oneworld, 1999. Print.


Different Culture and Perspectives in Vietnam

          In Reading and Writing class, we are learning about anthropology studying how and why humans behave in a certain community. I think every human behavior has its own intention according to culture, tradition, history, and so on. Today I would like to talk about some of Vietnamese manners resulting from its geographical location. It seems irrational that geography can cause human behaviors, but when you know the subsequent real stories, you can judge whether it is true or false.

          Vietnam has diverse sets of culture depending on its areas, especially in the North and the South. Sometimes there are many opposite taboos and norms between these two regions, which cause misunderstanding between them. People in the South may have an antipathetic perception over those in the North and vice versa. For example, some in the South think that people in the North are miserly, whereas citizens in the North averse to the luxury life in the South. However, if they know about the rationale why people in the other side behave in a certain way, they can understand and sympathize with them.

           When I was in grade eight, my teacher used to tell me about the difference between the two regions, particularly the natural conditions. The nature in the South provides its people good weather to grow various crops, so they lead a sufficient life, and they are happy with what they possess. Therefore, they are liable to spend their money as soon as they have it and are more prone to helping others. Gradually, they create close relationships with their neighbors, and their solidarity become stronger, thereby they are more willing to express their feelings. In the meantime, people in the North often suffer from natural disasters such as flood and storm, heavy rain and severe coldness. Thus, during their life, they always need to fight nature, and thereby not being able to think about others while they are not sure about their life. Besides, they also need to save money with the fear of their inconstant life. That is the reason why people in the North are often very careful in their expenditure, which people in the South think that they are stingy.

             My teacher also gave me an example about the misunderstanding between the two regions. Some people in the South think that those in the North sometimes like to show off in an irrational way because North people often build very big houses while they actually have no money. However, if South people know that because of regular flood, people in the North have to build their houses more sturdily so that they can tolerate the natural disaster, they will show their disdain any more.

               In conclusion, I know that every culture is based on their conditions that everyone should know in order not to misunderstand and to respect others more, especially those in diverse regions.  

Thu Nguyen

For Judith Viorst, and for you

You ask me what I think about social lies, and I tell you that they depend on the intimacy of relationships and situation. I may tell a rather close friend that her dress is nice, but only if I am asked; otherwise, I prefer silence to avoid telling a lie if she does not ask my opinion. Conversely, when I feel they are really beautiful, I will be prompt to applause her without hesitation. With my close friends, I always tell them what I really think.  Although you say that it is arrogant, and it may mortify and hurt others, I believe they understand that I just want them goodness. Certainly, I will not make them to follow my perception but let her decide what she think is fine. It is better than lies to keep relationships harmony.  However, I don’t consider lies as immoral wrongdoing. Under certain circumstances are lies also indispensible. Do you agree?
You ask me what I think about peace-keeping lies, and I tell you that I approve of you that I also feel culpable. Sometimes, I was angry at myself because I should have told the truth about my faults. Therefore, I endeavored to restrain myself from misleading others many times. Nonetheless, there are also some situations we need to hide the reality. Again, it depends on relationships and situations. I will tell my family the why I am late to be with them or even I forget their birthday. Some people may say it is so rude to upset them, yet it does not deserve to tell lies just because a small things with our loved ones. Suppose they know the truth one day, which one is better, tell them the reality first, or let them find out it by themselves? I believe their discovery cause more painful. Do you agree?
You ask me what I think about protective lies, and I tell you that I completely concur with you. Occasionally, I also feel culpable and often skeptical about what I did for them is really what they really want. Many times, I was fearful that I had surpassed my principles by falling into the circle of telling lies. At these times, I felt irritated to contrive subsequent lies to protect the former ones. However, I will otherwise think that it is not manipulation; rather it is my own judgments, and it is the best I can do to protect them. It is when lies are really mandatory. Do you agree?
You ask me what I think about trust-keeping lies, and I tell you that it depends on circumstances. I my friend ask me to conceal her affair from her husband, I will tell lies, but I also don’t want to over-deceive others like that. Hence, I will advise her to end her this illicit relationship because it is bad for her and her relationship also. If she persists on it, I cannot force myself to go against morality, but choose to refuse to be related to her problem. I am not a person who easily tells others my friends’ secrets, and I am not good at telling lies. Therefore, if my lies transcend my limitation of morality and goodness, I prefer not to tell lies. Do you agree?

Self Deception:True or False?

Reading the play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, I discern the obsession of self deception
covers the whole life of the main characters, particularly Biff and Willy. In
the work, Willy and his son Biff often think that they have a good position in their
life, and everything around them is going to flow smoothly. Then, after
realizing the painful reality that he is not an officer but an ordinary worker,
Biff becomes so desperate and indignant (Miller 38). Self deception seems to be
a bad thing for the characters, but I think that it also has good affects
besides the negative attribute. In fact, it is only bad when we blindly abuse
it in our lives without consideration or limitation.

Indeed, we can exploit it when we face obstacles and hope something special happens. It
is just like a prompt to endorse us to persevere and move forward in our lives.
There is more than once when we have to trick ourselves to make our lives more
beautiful. For example, when we are in a bad mood, and we find everything appear
to be in a wrong path. I think in these cases, “Everything will be ok,” “I can
do this,” or “I will have a better choice tomorrow” are really useful. It seems
that the spiritual medicine is going to be so effective. Different from Biff,
we shouldn’t go far away from real life. However, it does not mean that we are completely
sure about what is going to happen. Besides filling our minds with such
optimistic ideas, we need to work hard and

Other people may disagree with me because they may think that thinking about the good side will
be prone to overwhelm us when the result is contradictory to what we
anticipate. Yet knowing that we have tried our best to do it, we will not feel
any regret because it is our effort. Certainly, we will not lose our will just
because of that; conversely, it is like an incentive to help us try more the following

Nonetheless, I am a little skeptical about the idea that we can do everything we wish if we make
efforts. In fact, to accomplish what we expect to do, diligence is one of the
most indispensable factors including luckiness, knowledge, and chances. Yet I
prefer to believe that I will inevitably get betterment if I endeavor to
accomplish what I want.


The Life Is Hard, What Can We Do?

In the chapter “Callousness and Clouds” of1 the autobiography Growing Up Untouchability in India, Vacant Moon talked about the hard period of time when his family suffered from a lot of dilemmas in their life. After leaving from his father who was addicted to drinking and beating his mother, he lost his father. Then, their house was irrationally taken away by his grandfather’s unofficial son. Consequently, their life seemed to be fallen in a dark “hole”.

Before his grandfather died, Vasant Moon’s life was full of flowers. Although living in low caste, he experienced a lot of things from his grandfather’s modern perspectives and lifestyle. His grandfather always cared for and protected his daughter and grandchildren. In other words, Moon lived in love and care. Then, their happy life terminated when his grandfather died. Obviously, he didn’t want it, but the life still went on and they had to accept the “cloud.”

Likewise, there are always some spots in everyone’s life. The play Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller exemplifies the idea that life does not always flow smoothly as we all expect. At first, no one in the Willy Loman’s family could think that their life would turn to the opposite side. The demise of their affluence life came, and they unwillingly accepted it. After the economic recession, they led in a miserable life appearing to change their traits. Willy, a confident person in the past, altered to be unemployed with no money to support his family. The two children didn’t have a decent job, and their former friends were no longer close to them. They often thought of their past when they had been happy with their money, power, and status.

The life is so hard, indeed. Apparently, we don’t want to be born in a miserable condition. We don’t like to see dissociation. We hate to be betrayed. We are shocked to know our grandmother passed away. Yet can we change anything? Sometimes, we still have to suffer from such situations. In fact, problems always exist in our lives; however, our perspectives and reception are the predominant factor of what and how our lives are. I wonder how many people in the world are satisfied with their lives. And I believe that must be optimistic people who think obstacles are something to make their lives be more colorful. As a Vietnamese saying goes, “Rivers are sinuous; people’s lives are also enigmatic, occasionally.” The saying is written to encourage people who are in difficult time to be courageous to prevail over their “clouds”. If we adhere to the feeling of sorrow and do nothing to enhance ourselves, we can never defeat it. I hope that everyone will realize and apply it in their lives.


Achieving Dreams

In the poem, “My Family,” the Garrison Keillor talked about dreams through the story of his family. Although his grandfather desired to move to Oregon, he accepted his circumstances and temporarily conceals his dreams at the bottom of heart. I was surprised by the fact that he still wanted to be buried in that beautiful land. His determination and dedication remind me of my aunt’s favorite saying: regardless of rigors and obstacles, we should always endeavor to hold on and pursue our dreams. I like the idea that the author wants to express in the last two part of the poem. Usually, our wishes are bright and beautiful that we want to accomplish or fulfill them as far as we could. The further the distance between reality and dreams is, the more attractive the dreams are. They are like an incentive to encourage us to move forward in our lives. Dreams are diverse among people, and each person has their own view about what they what to obtain. The grandfather’s dream can be so strange, even it is meaningless to others; however, through his eyes, he can find it so significant and adorable. If the grandfather in the poem fails to catch his dream in his life, there will also be other ways for those whose yearnings haven’t fulfilled yet. I have contrived a situation of a girl, whose dream is also stamped out, but she knows how to make it work in her real life. If we really desire to do something, nothing can prevent us from accomplishing it. I want to tell a story of that girl who successfully keeps her wishes but still make others happy.   

            My friend

One of my best friends, Tho,

Who had always wished to be

An artist or a good teacher,

Had always studied diligently.

Being so sensitive, she, too, liked drawing

She liked to put all her skies,

All her emotions into her paintings

Through them, she liked to record all her life.

One day her mother cried and said

“I am sorry, but I cannot help,

You know, our money was not enough

To endure what to want to have

After twelve, you may have to stop.”

Being so shock, she cried and smiled in grief

“I will study hard if you I’m in my path

I’m gonna help you when my dream is achieved

I promise to give you a better hand

You will not be ashamed of me, indeed.”

Her relatives started to give their claims

“Please, you should understand our fate,

We want you good, but we can’t afford

Enjoy your life, before you get to another gate.”

Now, she has completed her school

But still, she keeps the dreams in her life

She is teaching the kids with best skills

Besides her work, the work of a tailor.




My Own Feelings on Taking That Road

           After reading the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, I closed my eyes and let myself to be in that situation with my own imaginary feelings.

            I felt puzzled and bewildered not knowing how to choose the better between the two roads. As being taught to think credibly, I decided to consider both sides before making any decisions. Then, I randomly looked at the right one and found out it was curved. “Will it be okay to me if I pick this path while I cannot see far away what will be going on?” I asked myself. Then, I saw it was a weary road that many people had chosen. Not always being decisive and bold, I have always followed others’ ways of thinking, but at that moment, I wanted to do a different thing. Although I felt a little bit scared of what would possibly happen to me, I was still certain of what I was going to do. And I made myself calm by telling that I was going to walk on the first road some day in the near future, or if I felt regret with my first decision, I would come back and chose the latter one. “However, will it be the same as I came back, or do I have chance to come back?” I wondered.“Maybe I should choose the safer one.” “No, I will be fun if I choose the new one,” I answered myself. I inhaled and exhaled, and the feeling of desire to venture something new held on me. I picked up the other one mumbling it would be ok. In fact, it was not a bad choice because I came to realize that it was more vigorous with a lot of grass, even though I found out many people also went on this road. I pondered, “Between two of the seemingly same ways, I has taken the better one for myself. I know it is not as perfect as I expected, but I am happy with my alternative.” I dreamed of my future when I spend time telling my children with satisfaction that I have made my life differently. I will be proud of my option with a high voice, “I am the one who dared to choose the more adventurous way and I have never felt regret for my decisions”. I will be so excited to tell them my experience. I will teach them to be confident with their choices, not to feel remorseful for their options, and not to depend on other but consider what is good for them, because they are the only ones who understand their own paths.  

Thu Nguyen

24 Years Later

             Thursday 28, 2011

              I was so tired after we had a big party with elaborate Chinese food. You know, the Hsus, the Jongs, and the Clairs have been here [China] for one week, and we have just returned from a long journey for visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden Citadel and other famous places in China, our beautiful country. It was so ecstatic that we have already promised that we would take a trip together annually in every August. Next time, we have decided to come to Cox’es Bazar in Bangladesh. We also want to visit Nepal, Bhutan, and others countries in Asia.

               I haven’t written to you since last week because I forgot to bring this diary. Forgive me, please. But I have a lot of things to tell you. You know that we, the members of four families, haven’t met since I settled here in 1989, the year that altered my life. I have always thought that you were the one who helped me to meet him. When I was visiting you in the American cemetery, I first saw Xiao Ming, your present son-in-law, cry beside his American father’s grave. Later, we surprisingly encountered a few times, and in the same year, we got marriage. You used to say that I had never chosen the best one, but I believe that our marriage is the best decision that I have ever made. We have a lot of similarities. Can you imagine that he knows almost exactly what you said to me about my quality? He reminded a lot of you.

                  Sorry Ma, I seemed to talk a lot about the past, but that memory filled me with nostalgia. Ah, next week, we have an inclination to celebrate your granddaughter’s birthday, Le [Happy], and inevitably, all of our guests will be invited, even Waverly. Now, we no longer argue like before, but make fun of that time. We were so absurd to ridicule each other in the past, weren’t we? Ah, have I told you about my historical Chinese friends? Lena found the way to heal her marriage, and Waverly is now a mother of two children, one girl and one boy. I forgot to tell you that Rose couldn’t join us because she had to go to Vietnam for her business. Yet she already gave me her word that she would come here by Sunday to wish our Le luck for her eighteenth birthday. You also need to wish her luck and say “sheng ri kuaile,” happy birthday, to her. Mom, if you were here, I would completely understand you. I have learnt Chinese since I came here. Xiao Ming also taught me a lot. I almost forget; Le is so shrewd that she can speak both English and Chinese fluently. She likes to learn to play the violin, which is her alternative. She is also obedient, not adamant like me before. You might have been weary of me. Sorry Ma.

              Tomorrow, I am going to sing a Chinese song. Can you believe? Being a little bit nervous, but I think I can do well. Simultaneously, I will give her your diary as a gift because I want her to know more about you.

              See you tomorrow. Xiao xin, take care, Ma. Please give my regards to auntie An-mei also.


See You Later, Ying Ying

                I see my wife and daughter, Ying Ying and Lena, but I cannot communicate with them. More accurately, it is out of my hand. Nobody can see me, and I am not able to touch anyone or anything. Many times, I endeavor to lay my hand on Ying Ying’s shoulder, when she feels sad, but she doesn’t feel my existence.

                Last year, because of a heart attack, I died. I remember the time I came out from my body without noticing that I had already became a ghost. Ying Ying was with me at that time, and this was the first time I had ever seen her cry. Surprisingly, I hugged her, but implausibly, she went through my body. I know the gap between us is so far, more than ever, that we no longer can contact with each other. We are in different world. 

               Since that time, I have always been with her wherever she goes. Today, I am so glad she will visit Lena’s house. I don’t want to see her spend most of her time at home and doing housework. Sometimes, she makes me worried because she spent many hours sitting besides the window. However, when we are in Lena’s house, something terrible happened. She reveals her story in her past. I can’t imagine that she will make me shocked. Until she finishes her story, I still can believe in my ears. Going out of the house, I get irate that she concealed her big secret from me for a long time. I close my eyes and think about a beach. And I am in Hawaii. I come along the shore feeling the wave, wind, and fresh air. Yet I cannot forget about that time. After three days, I choose the best option, forgiveness. Actually, I also have to be blamed because I never asked her to tell me about her life. I have never thought that she experienced a miserable life in her past. Therefore, it must have been hard for her to remind and disclose it.

                When I come back, Lena has already been in our house. She is folding her clothes, and letting them into her suitcase. They are going to take a trip to China, and I know the meaning of this journey. Lena can have time to balance herself and understand Ying Ying more. Besides, Ying Ying can visit her hometown. I am so happy that they are in the same path at last. This journey will be the last one I will have been with them. Then I feel relaxed to leave this world, to rebirth.

                 Ying Ying, if it is possible, I want to be your husband again. Live happy until you meet me. I will wait for you, and I promise to be a good husband to compensate for my faults in this life.

Thu Nguyen

who deserved to be blamed?

                   Reading The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I had always blamed for the daughters who misunderstood their own mother until I recognized the situation of the daughters. Living in a different culture, they had constantly had to face a lot of problems. Listening to their mothers was very good, but how could they apply what they were taught in her family in American society? The environments where they lived certainly impact their lives, even though they wanted it or not.  Indeed, it was very hard for them to fully adapt two cultures simultaneously.

                  Moreover, it was a fallacy that I had thought every fault was caused by the daughters; but their mothers were also responsible to their knotty relationships. Even though everything the mothers did because they wanted goodness for their daughters, their behaviors really took part in increasing their gaps. For instance, Suyan Woo had an inclination to teach Jing Mei to be a prodigy. She always wanted her daughter to be good, to be shrewd, and to do something she wanted, without even asking Jing Mei’s wishes. Her action was impartial, wasn’t it? She used to say that she just wanted Jing Mei to try her best, but how could Jing Mei concentrate on what she didn’t like? I wondered if Suyan had never thought about it. Also I was surprised Suyan hadn’t known Jing Mei good quality until Jing Mei turned 36 in the chapter “Best Quality.” In fact, Suyan was the one who indirectly coerced Jing Mei into her situation.

                    Then, I was aware of An-mei Sue’s definite teaching on Rose Sue Jordan, her daughter. She always wanted her daughter to listen to her, though she hadn’t known what she said was right or wrong and how Rose adapted it. Rose used to admit that she didn’t even know what her mother said, but she still complied with her mother’s requirements. Didn’t An-mei’s teaching direct Rose to be disoriented? She couldn’t make any decisions by herself; rather, she depended on others. First, I thought that Rose never tried to heal her marriage, that if she obeyed her mother’s advice, she could solve her problem properly.  Yet I realized she even didn’t have ability to judge her trouble. It was because her mother always decided for her, wasn’t it?

                      Finally, Waverly Jong’s mother, Lindo Jong, changed herself so immediately that Waverly couldn’t adjust what was going on around her. I used to get angry when I discovered Waverly had misapprehended her mother until her late 30s. Nevertheless, I noticed which and who forced her to become that kind of person. She had always thought something bad about her mother since her mother altered not to intervene in her life. How could a child understand clearly what her mother wanted when her mother suddenly changed, although she knew it was because of her disrespect toward her mother? The fact that she felt her mother want to be against her was highly liable.

Thu Nguyen