By Kenneth So
April 26, 2005
As a Cambodian American I was so proud to witness the sense of Cambodian unity on the Parade day in Long Beach . Cambodian people came in force and in great numbers to cheer the first Cambodian New Year Parade that took place on April 24, 2005 in Long Beach .
My brother and his wife came from Milpitas (near San Jose ) especially to watch the Parade. The night before the parade I was really worried because it rained so hard. As we left our home at 10:00 a.m. the rain was still pouring and miraculously it stopped right before we arrived in Long Beach . By the time we arrived in Long Beach just before 11:00 a.m. the sky was clear and the sun came out to greet the crowd that was waiting happily for the Parade to start.
The Parade went out without a hitch. I did not count the number of floats and/or club/association that participated in the Parade but there were probably close to 50. There were floats/processions representing Khmer Leu, Khmer Krom, Cambodia Town, Long Beach-Phnom Penh Sister City, Cambodian Coordinate Council, Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, Khmer Cultural Center, Friendly Club, and Cambodian Jewelry Association just to name a few. Notably absent from the Parade was the group representing the Veterans Association. While watching the Parade, I heard some people in the crowd commenting on the absence of the Veterans Association. Apart that negative comments everything was beautiful.
I can sense the pride of all Cambodians around me. The road to getting Long Beach authorizing the first Cambodian New Year Parade was arduous and painful at time, to the point of dividing the Cambodian community, but at the end it was well worth the effort. Hopefully next year’s parade will be better and everybody will be able to participate.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Parade committee who worked tirelessly to bring the first Cambodian New Year Parade to reality. We must also cheer for the Cambodian businesses which are the foundation of the Cambodian community existence in Long Beach for supporting the Parade with their own time and money to see the Parade become a success. We are very grateful to the Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill and Councilwoman Laura Richardson for being friends of the Cambodian people and for sponsoring the first Cambodian New Year Parade.
Numbers do not bring us strength but unity does. We have a great number of Cambodian Americans in Long Beach but we do not have the proper respect or recognition of our strength because we do not have one united voice representing the Cambodian community in Long Beach . Hopefully this first Cambodian New Year Parade and many more to come will bind and unite all Cambodians to serve the common interests of the Cambodian community here in Long Beach as well as in other cities.
One of the main reasons that Cambodians are divided is due to some extremism within the Cambodian community. The Lord Buddha has taught to walk the Middle Path and not be jealous of other people. It is always more satisfying to give than to take. What are most lacking for people with extreme views are understanding and tolerance. If each of us can be a little bit more trustful of each other, then we can start the healing process and eliminate the great divide within the Cambodian community. I am an optimist at heart and the first Cambodian New Year Parade reinforced my belief that Cambodians could put differences aside for the common cause of the Cambodian community. The division within the Cambodian community comes from some misunderstandings and distrusts. This phenomenon is not totally unexpected due to the great number of Cambodian population in Long Beach on one hand and to our immaturity on the other hand.
I will leave you with food for thought with the following anonymous quotes that define the meaning of Maturity.
- Maturity is the ability to control anger and settle differences without violence or destruction.
- Maturity is patience. It is the willingness to pass up immediate pleasure in favor of long-term gain.
- Maturity is perseverance, the ability to sweat out a project or a situation in spite of heavy opposition and discouraging setbacks.
- Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration, discomfort and defeat, without complaint or collapse.
- Maturity is humility. It is being big enough to say, “I was wrong.” And, when right, the mature person need not experience the satisfaction of saying, “I told you so.”
- Maturity is the ability to make a decision and follow through. The immature spend their lives exploring endless possibilities and then do nothing.
- Maturity means dependability, keeping one’s word and coming through in a crisis. The immature are masters of the alibi.
- Maturity is the art of living in peace with what we cannot change, the courage to change what we know should be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.