"We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by lovingkindness -- make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it." The Buddha

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The purpose of Cuong.com

Me as a refugee in a refugee camp

A couple of months ago, someone asked me, "What's the purpose of Cuong.com?" She didn't elaborate but I take it to mean Who am I writing Cuong.com for? and Who would read it?

The question surprised me, but it was a good one. It was a question I really didn't think too much about. Despite being a man who prides himself on planning ahead, I published Cuong.com on the spur of the moment. It was more an emotional decision than a strategic one. I knew I wanted to go back to my roots as a Vietnamese person, but with my American upbringing, I also wanted to present a unique perspective on what it is like to be a Vietnamese American. Furthermore, I founded Cuong.com because of my love of all things Vietnamese, which is indeed emotional for me on several levels.

The more I observe and learn about other Vietnamese, Americans, and Vietnamese Americans, the more I realize I am different from all of them in various ways and degrees. To try to pigeonhole me or Cuong.com into a category would be a mistake because I offer a perspective unlike any other.

Therefore, there will be times you will agree with me but there will certainly be times you will disagree with me. Expect it. It's inevitable. That's because my experiences aren't the same as yours. Perhaps over time you will eventually agree with me, or over time I will learn more to agree with you, but at this juncture, we will not agree on everything.

So what's the benefit of reading Cuong.com? It depends on the reader. With each article, I present a little of my life's knowledge and experience, and thus you might glean a little of that knowledge and experience to help you in your own life. Although I will try to use clear, everyday language, I will never dumb down my articles. Conversely, some topics I discuss might seem simple but they are far from being simplistic. It's not easy being able to boil the complex down to simple and understandable terms yet are still reflective of reality. It can only be achieved through many years of direct experience via hard-fought, real-life struggles. I prefer readers try to participate and meet me halfway intellectually. However, if you don't understand something, feel free to email me at cuong@cuong.com. Pick out what is useful and interesting to you.

It might also be useful and interesting for you to understand the context of Cuong.com. What is the general driving force of my articles? Why am I writing at all? Who am I and who am I not? So I think this is a good time for me to step back a little and explain to you the background of Cuong.com and what I envision this website to be:

(1) The name Cuong - Cuong (Cฦฐแปng in Vietnamese writing, Cuong pronunciation) was my given name when I was born in Saigon, Vietnam. Cuong was my name when I was a helpless Vietnamese refugee boy when I left Vietnam. I was a just a vulnerable little boat person. You can see what I looked like in the photo above taken at the refugee camp. Yes, that's me. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, between 200,000 and 400,000 Vietnamese boat people died at sea, or as many as 70 percent of Vietnamese died in their attempt to escape from communist Vietnam. As a refugee, I was completely dependent on the love and kindness of others. Without that love and kindness of Vietnamese and Americans alike, I wouldn't be where I am today. I am glad those who helped me weren't self-interested, because it would have probably ended badly for me. I will discuss more about self-interest later in this article.

(2) The domain name Cuong.com - Now I am here writing these words at Cuong.com in the United States. Cuong.com, an alliteration, was a domain name I have always dreamed I would own one day. As if I willed Cuong.com into reality, it became a reality. (I also own Cฦฐแปng.com.) This website is hosted on Blogger, a service owned by Google, my favorite company of all time. Since 1999, Google changed the way companies did business forever. Many years ago, Google personally invited me to visit their company. One of their executives knew about my work elsewhere. I saw firsthand early on how Google operated from the inside. I was blown away, especially since they wanted my advice on how to succeed. I felt I wasn't qualified but I gave them the best advice I had. Considering their success, my advice didn't hurt. Google might not stay that way forever, but I admired it from the beginning. Likewise, Vietnam is a place I have admired from the beginning, albeit I haven't been there since I left. But I didn't forget where I came from. I know my roots. I recognize the priceless love and kindness shown me when I was a Vietnamese refugee boy. That's why I make it my life's mission to help as many disadvantaged American and Vietnamese children as possible. I'm still learning the process. I understand I can't do it alone. But I'll get there. I'm determined to make a success at it, as I have always done throughout my life.

(3) The heart ๐Ÿ’› - Despite Cuong.com being an outcome of an emotional decision, I am still nonetheless convinced that the emotions of love and kindness are beneficial emotions. Lovingkindness, more specifically, is what I want to promote. I deliberately write "lovingkindness" as one word, and without a hyphen. What is lovingkindness? Lovingkindness is an act of love, kindness, and wisdom. They come from the heart, hands, and the mind, respectively. They aren't only intentions, academic, or philosophy. They are effective actions that benefit real people in the real world. Therefore, lovingkindness is a mark of true power and strength. The heart I use at Cuong.com isn't a red heart. It's a yellow heart, because the color yellow has special meaning to me personally, especially considering my family's lineage. The yellow heart emoji ๐Ÿ’› is prominently shown right after Cuong.com at the top of the website and at the end of each article. You can say it's a heart of gold, but to me, the color has more to do with the yellow earth -- the ground -- that provides nourishment and produces sustainable abundance, not a gaudy metal. Yellow is the color of emperors and heroes, of physical balance and mental stability.

"We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by lovingkindness -- make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it." The Buddha

(4) The quotes of Cuong.com - If you have Cuong.com on desktop full web version (not mobile version), you will see quotes sprinkled throughout the website. Those quotes came from Buddha, Sun Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lao Tzu, Mo Tzu, and yours truly, Cuong. They reflect my commitment to keep lovingkindness as my core value. They reflect my commitment to remind myself that I'm not perfect, and thus to keep refining and improving myself. They reflect my commitment to transcend the petty, selfish, and cynical nature of too many people. For example, even as a businessman, I believe the concept of self-interest often taught in economics at business schools has been a detriment to humanity. They have forgotten the top purpose of business: to benefit society! Not only is self-interest wrong in explaining how communities truly work but it is also harmful to whole nations. The core of economics is little more than modern-day haruspicy. In spite of their lofty intellectual rhetoric, economists have yet to predict a single stock market crash. Not one. In the process, humanity gets buried in complex economic models based on self-interest, a glaring academic error that fails to understand the human condition. They need to experience more how the real world works. Otherwise, everyday people will continue to get hurt, especially those who are already disadvantaged. I am determined to educate those who are able and willing to listen so they can understand what business is really about, and how it can benefit society much more than it does today.

(5) The articles of Cuong.com - Unlike some websites, I won't be able to publish articles daily at Cuong.com. First of all, I'm not that smart. Second, it's impossible for me due to time constraints. I have too many things going on. But I enjoy writing immensely. If nobody pays me to write, I'd still do it. That's the case with Cuong.com. Every article I write here at Cuong.com is a product of love. I'm not trying to sell you anything. There are no advertisements. I just want to share my knowledge and experiences with you. I hope you find them useful and interesting. Writing is something I can spend all day on and not feel strained. Writing is so enjoyable that time flies when I write. If I want to have the day go by quickly, nothing beats writing. Although I say Cuong.com is focused on Vietnamese-American issues, my articles can be on anything I feel like writing that day. In fact, the most popular article on Cuong.com currently is a math problem I shared because it was interesting. It seems to have nothing to do with a Vietnamese-American issue, but since it came from a Vietnamese American (me), in a sense it is.

(6) Cuong.com is all about lovingkindness - In case you haven't noticed already! Lovingkindness is what I strive to exude and put into practice in my daily life, whether it's at home or in public. Ultimately, I want Cuong to be synonymous with lovingkindness in such a way that lovingkindness spreads throughout the world. I know this is such a crazy dream of mine. But if I can make this dream a reality, is there anything of greater value to accomplish? ๐Ÿ’›

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"Irrigators channel waters; fletchers straighten arrows; carpenters shape wood; the wise master themselves." The Buddha