Despite it being a time of celebration and a time of replenishing our spirits, this past holiday weekend, the Hmong community across the U.S. witnessed several disheartening incidences.

I’m sure you’ve seen and read about them across your social media and that may be why you are here.  Therefore, I will not shed any more light on them.

Instead, I want to share my own personal thoughts as a way to help—to help someone who may have felt exactly the way I did on Sunday night. 

I had just gotten home from a long weekend at the NC Hmong New Year.  I left my luggage untouched.  My tarnished boots were (and are) still sitting in plastic bags—slathered with North Carolina’s famous av liab from the muddy New Year festival grounds. 

I was alone and didn’t want to feel alone.  So I sat down at my desk here, opened up my Facebook, and came across this... 

A friend remarking on a poorly organized Hmong New Year vocal contest.  One friend touching on the ill-willed behaviors of concertgoers.  Another sharing a viral video of a dispute from another Hmong New Year.

Within minutes, I became angry, disgusted, and upset.  I was heartbroken. 

Honestly, I was better off putting away my luggage and cleaning those boots.  But I didn’t budge.  I was so too distraught and disturbed by the news on my newsfeed.   

Then something inside me changed.  I didn't want to feel this way at all.   

I realized that I could join in the disgust, the anger, and the brokenness shared by my fellow peers and their peers on social media.  I could slash those who showed disrespect upon innocent people by smearing words of disgust and humiliation, delivered by my fingertips.  I could share the video another hundred times or make a public announcement.

But my heart knew better. 

It knew that we each have flaws.  We each have contributed to something disheartening, something we are not proud of, at least once in our lives. 

We are human. 

And when it’s not you and me publicly shown as meat-eating vultures across social media, it’s much easier to point fingers and throw rocks at those who are.  

I didn't want to do any of that, because... 

Yuav kom peb txawj sib hlub, yus yuav tsum muaj siab hlub. 
It must be your intention to love another if you desire your community to love one another.

Throughout history, Hmoob yuav tsum hlub Hmoob is the BIGGEST message our ancestors, grandparents, parents, General Vang Pao, and even our own Hmong music artists have reminded us time and time again.  (See below.)

On that cold and lonely Sunday night, I realized that if I wanted my Hmong people to have love, be love, and give love, it starts with me.

I must be willing to have love, be love, and give love.

And that won’t happen if I bash another on social media through words and video.  That won’t happen if my heart is disgusted, angry, or upset.  That won't happen if all I do is put another label on the Hmong people.    

Instead, my heart must be in a place that is most easy to have love, be love, and give love.  It can be any place for any one.

For me, it is with my closest family and friends.  And that’s what I’ve done in the past three days since opening up my Facebook that Sunday night. 

I wrote to my siblings that all I am looking forward to this month is being with them.
I shared uplifting words of support on the walls of new friends I made in NC. 
I left a surprise voicemail for my best friend who was in the middle of class. 
I called a former North Carolina family I fell in love with whom I missed all weekend long.
I connected with a high school friend who just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

I chose to have love, be love, and give love.  And I feel so much better. 

What I did in the past three days may not seem like they matter nor could they possibly impact the larger Hmong community, but I believe it does.

Q:  How do you eat an elephant?
A:  Bit-by-bit.

For the Hmong community to love one another—that is a BIG elephant.  I believe in order to achieve that or “to eat that big elephant,” we have to start very small.  And starting very small means starting with the people you can most easily reach.

What do you think?

If you were feeling like I was last Sunday evening (and earlier this week), I hope my words here helped.  Yes or no, leave me a comment below with your thoughts.  I’d love to hear from you.

Now off to cleaning my av liab boots!  Until next time…

Dream BIG,
Pagnia Xiong

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