While teaching abroad in a communist county, our daughter has experienced some unique contrasts living in China.
Of note, while serving on the faculty at a university in a rural province, living in a staff residency provided, Callie has engaged some incredibly knowledge-hungry students who are selected to attend the university by the government.
While wandering around a city of just over 400,000 in population, she's frequently cornered by families imploring her to "speak English" with their children.
In one instance, a rather poor family treated our daughter to duck and delicacies for dinner in exchange for four hours spent speaking and teaching English with their elementary-aged children.
You see, English is viewed as the "language of prosperity" among those seeking a better way for the next generation -- even in a communist country. In America, some view teaching English as "intolerant" rather than preparing for global success.
Callie also experienced registering as an Internet user, a requirement of the Chinese Communist government. Due to the fear of protest, Internet content and access are closely monitored, especially within areas that have younger citizens, such as the universities. It is explained to Internet users, "The government allows no dissent."
While having time to travel, our daughter chose to spend time in a very rural, underserved province that had never had a "foreigner" visit. In using the limited Internet in a cafe she wrote of her first experience of doing laundry by hand with water from a pump. Yes, China has population centers featured in travel and business journals, but widespread poverty and lack of education are the rule, not the exception.
It's obvious, the necessary ingredient to any oppressive, government-controlled population is a permanent, dependent underclass with its liberty defined by the state, whether it's China, Egypt, or Russia ... or America.
Never before have we had so many individuals at the mercy of the government for their financial support, for employment, for daily sustenance and so terribly uninformed of our unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.
The real, not adjusted, unemployment rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in December was 14.4 percent. According to CNN's "Money" article in November 2012, almost 15 million households were receiving food stamps, a jump of almost 2 million since 2010.
Sure, there's no demand to register for Internet access that would interfere with our constitutional right to free speech. However, there is a current effort to punish law-abiding citizens who commit no crimes with their weapons by infringing upon our constitutional right to bear arms.
While Chattanooga's latitude is written as 35 degrees North, 2 minutes and 44 seconds, that of the university in China at which Callie teaches is about 34 degrees North and 11 minutes. Only about one degree of separation distinguishes the geography on the spinning sphere called Earth.
Yet, generations of ingenuity, personal success and a unique government based on the consent of the governed are the ingredients that have made America the nation of freedom, liberty and opportunity in contrast to communism, illiteracy and poverty.
It is absolutely necessary to endure the taunts, the mockery and the chortles of the elite to protect America from the ever-growing government that is enslaving a permanent underclass to dependency and a state-defined "liberty."
If you're under 40 years of age, my sincere prayer for you is an awakening to see and understand your future contains hope only if your future contains authentic liberty and opportunity for personal achievement.
Robin Smith is a wife and mother living in Hixson. She served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009.