This I Believe
I believe that true personal belongings on Earth are inside of oneself.
As a 9-year-old girl in China in 1967, my Father was put in prison as an anti-communist, my Mother was kept day and night in criticism confinement.
One day my 7-year-old little brother and I watched a group of Red Guards march in to our home and shredded all of our nice clothes, burned all of our books and my Father’s Western style shoes, tore up all of our photos because we were smiling in the pictures, turned everything upside down and took away anything of value.
I was ordered by the Red Guards to bring an axe for them to break the lock on a storage trunk. While they yelled at me and forced me to watch, I made a decision in my little 9-year-old mind that I would collect as much wealth inside of me as possible so that I could be rich and no one could ever take it away from me so long as I didn’t show or tell anyone.
Ever since that day, after completing only first grade, I read everything I could get my hands on. Using many different channels to get forbidden books, I read them by flashlight in the middle of the night, covered securely by my blanket. I hung out with exiled intellectuals to beg them for the store of their knowledge. At the same time I counted my victories almost daily over my invisible battle with the communist tyrants. ?Hah!? I thought. ?I am getting richer each day and you can’t take any of it away from me!?
The sad thing was that I couldn’t even tell my parents or anyone about this. My parents were worried about my safety and I couldn’t trust anyone else but myself.
Many years have passed and I have moved from place to place many times. With every move there were only a few clothes to take with me. Each place I left, I never felt that I left anything behind because everything that has value is in me. And every time I get to a new place, I am always happy and excited. Ah, there are more things for me to learn and to get rich with.
I truly believe that on Earth the only thing that is truly valuable and that no one can take away, and no force can destroy, is what is built and collected inside of oneself.
Li Zhao Schoolland
High school teacher, Honolulu, Hawaii
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