Faith in God, Public Service, and Liberty
In June 2020, Mr. Daofeng He, the founder and the president of Daofeng and Angela Foundation, was invited to deliver a welcome speech to the class of 2020’s International Leadership Foundation (ILF) Civic Fellows.
Mr. Daofeng He’s Welcome Speech Transcript
Respected Chairman Paul Hsu (Xu) and President Chiling Tong, Dear Students who are here to begin your internship in D.C., Ladies and Gentlemen:
I want to welcome you to your internship program where you will learn more about the mechanism of public service work with the US government through active participation and meticulous observation. This will be an incredible journey for people of your age and life experience, and it is my wish that you will find from this internship what you hope to find and more.
As an old man who has experienced working in China’s central government, along with publicly listed companies, and Chinese and American NGOs for almost 40 years, I have just a few ideas to share with you that I hope will serve as a fertilizer for your growth. Mainly, I would like to talk to you about how the United States Constitution was inspired by the deeply rooted faith our Founding Father’s had in God, which is oftentimes overshadowed by their own legendary status, and how this is connected to our ideals of public service as citizens of this great nation.
Everyone knows that together the Constitution and the stable political system of the United States have been a model for the world, not only because they have encouraged innovation, invention and creation, but also because they have provided limits to the government’s power and have protected individual citizens’ rights from governmental abuses of power. Therefore, we have witnessed more liberty, equality and justice in this nation than in any other country we have ever seen in history.
How was the United States able to design such a unique constitution and a coherent political system? Most of the credit is usually given to the Founding Fathers, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, etc. But how were the Founding Fathers able to come up with this unique constitution and the coherent political system? Normally, people don’t probe deeper into this – they usually stop with the legendary figures of the Founding Fathers.
My dear friends, let me tell you the truth: it was because at that time in history, all Americans believed in God. A central part of this belief includes the truth that while God created the cosmos and everything in it, including various natural laws such as gravity as well as other laws such as thermodynamics and entropy, God also created people and empowered each one of us to be free, allowing us to make use of the natural laws He created for scientific and technological advancement in order to pursue happiness. Yet people can also use the same natural laws to hurt others and the world we’ve been given. Out of love for the very people He created, God gave us the ability to understand a few fundamental principles that serve as the building blocks of our home and society: first, God empowered everyone with liberty. Second, liberty doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The other side of the liberty coin is our obligations. And third, everyone has been granted by God equal liberty because everyone was created equal by God. Therefore, liberty, obligations and equality are three of the founding principles that endure and will help build modern governmental mechanisms and good relationships among peoples. If you truly understand the God-given liberty, obligations and equality we have as humans, you will also understand that public servants should represent God’s other righteous principles, namely fairness and justice.
United by their faith in God, countless Americans have persistently tried to hold onto those fundamental principles while building this great country during trying times. For example, from the 1730s to the 1750s, the Great Awakening preacher Jonathan Edwards resolutely launched a revival movement, as he traversed across cities as well as the countryside giving more than 600 speeches to strengthen people’s faith in God. This enriched faith in God was the rich soil in which the flowers of the Founding Fathers’ wisdom were planted. The righteous foundational principles underpinning the American Constitution and its coherent political system steered American politicians to the right understanding of people’s liberty, obligations and equality, so that they could help the government achieve fairness and justice.
Over the last four decades, the concept of globalization has become increasingly popular. Under the tidal wave of globalization, the world has become more aware of its own diversity. People have become more tolerant towards other cultures. But unfortunately, at the same time, people have departed from God and have become more materialistic. People all over the world are spending more time on their cellphones instead of leading lives of faith. In the United States, more and more, people are motivated only by money, and no longer seek after or desire God’s guidance and protection. With this wave of secularization, people are growing in their misunderstanding of the fundamental principles of society and government. Extreme liberalism and individualism have become very popular. For example, people like to talk about rights without obligations, politicians like to talk about entitlement: this should be free, that should be free, but nobody ever talks about who should pay for these free things. Economics professors like to talk about equality, but their equality seems to be an arithmetic average instead of true equality. That kind of equality is actually unfair. In order to get more advertising revenue, the mass media has foregone its traditional role of public watchdog and has begun to openly encourage bottomless liberalism and individualism. In order to get more votes, politicians like to promise liberty without any obligations, free welfare without payment. Americans are facing the danger of becoming idle, harvesting without cultivating, entitlement from government without hard work. The American government is facing the dangerous departure from the true principles of the fairness and justice of God’s righteousness.
As time and history have progressed, we have taken our eyes off of God, and we have become more focused on ourselves which has produced in us a new level of self- centeredness. This focus on self has made us more interested in hearing ourselves talk than in listening to one another. Thus, the act of talking has lost its original function for people to communicate and connect and is now just a series of making declarations.
I worry whether the U.S. will remain a great nation in your generation if we don’t put a stop to these trends of practicing extreme liberalism and individualism without God’s blessings.
Now might be the right time for us to return to God. Under God’s enlightenment, it might be the right time for us to pray for the ability to humbly seek out our liberty, obligations and equality in society, and the capacity to understand that public service means helping the government achieve fairness and justice.
These really are the core spirits of public service in the United States. These truly are the building blocks of the enduring success of the United States of America. God bless you, and God bless America.
Thank you very much indeed for your patient listening!
The President of Daofeng and Angela Foundation