The story below is from Brentwood Home Page, written by Samantha Hearn
At the Brentwood Rotary Club meeting, Dr. Ming X. Wang shared his story of losing and regaining freedom as a Chinese immigrant, having witnessed the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s where millions of youths were stripped of their education.
Wang escaped China’s Cultural Revolution as a teenager, at a time when millions of innocent youth were deported to remote areas to face life sentences of poverty and hard labor.
“I grew up in an atheist family that didn’t believe in God, but believed in education,” Wang said. “My dad said that if I mastered math, chemistry and science that I could go anywhere in the world, so I studied very hard. In 1966 the Cultural Revolution happened. The dictators decided the best way to keep a nation was to destroy it and keep people ignorant, so they shut down all the universities in the country and forcefully deported every youth to a life sentence of hard labor.”
More than 20 million young people were the victims of China’s Cultural Revolution. Wang was 14 years old when he got his deportation letter.
“It was a moment of desperation,” he said. “I tried to avoid it. Turns out, if you could play an instrument or dance you could be in the Communist propaganda troupe, because they needed that to keep their power. I took violin, and every day I played a song that was written by a blind artist. All hope for my further education and future was crushed with a devastating life sentence.”
Wang said authorities eventually figured out he and others were learning instruments and dance to avoid their life sentences, and a stop was put to their efforts.
“Today here in America, often friends will say, ‘Oh, Ming, that’s so nice you play an instrument and dance, those are great hobbies,'” he said. “But these were not hobbies when I learned them. I learned them to survive.”
In 1976, China’s dictator died and the country realized their tragic mistake.
“China reopened its colleges, but you had to be a 12th grader,” Wang said. “I had dropped out in 9th grade three years prior. My dad came home and told me to go back to school the very next day. He wanted me to jump directly three years ahead.”
Wang said he feared for his chances of being accepted into college since there were 10 times more applicants than before, but he was accepted and eventually made his way to America with $50 in his pocket and a dream. He went on to earn a PhD in laser physics and graduated magna cum laude with the highest honors from Harvard Medical School and MIT.
He found Christian faith and tackled the question of faith and science being friends or foes, leading to his invention of a biotechnology to restore sight. To date he has performed over 55,000 eye procedures and has treated patients from nearly every state in the U.S. and from over 55 countries worldwide.
He has published eight textbooks, holds several U.S. patients and performed the world’s first laser artificial cornea implantation.
Wang also had a character modeled after him in the movie “God’s Not Dead.” The film featured a character inspired by the real life story of Wang, a Harvard and MIT graduate and one of the few cataract and LASIK surgeons in the world with a doctorate degree in laser physics.
“Now, year 2016, sitting in America, we have freedom,” Wang said. “You know how it is as human beings, we have something and we don’t appreciate. We only appreciate what we no longer have. Through my story of suffering through the Cultural Revolution, I’ve learned that America, above everything else, is about freedom.”
Wang said there are two ways to have freedom stripped from you, with one being violence like the Cultural Revolution, and the other being a slow, gradual erosion.
“Government dependency takes away freedom,” he said. “The challenge we face as Americans today, is can we rise above and become a people, perhaps for the first time in human history, to appreciate something as precious as freedom without having to lose it?”
Wang also asked the question of how to help a country’s poorest inhabitants.
“One answer is big government and high taxes, but the criteria should be about freedom,” he said. “That would take our freedom away. But how can our country have financial resources to help the poor without bigger government and higher taxes?”
Wang suggests through charity. He established a nonprofit foundation which provides sight restoration surgeries for indigent patients who otherwise would never have the opportunity to receive them free of charge.
“It’s not the solution to the entire problem of taking care of a nation’s poor, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Wang said. “We should encourage each other to help, and be in the spirit of helping each other, as a civil responsibility.
“Perhaps by taking an approach like that, we can help the poor, reduce the financial burden on the country to care for the poor, and in the process without inviting bigger government and high taxes, without depleting what’s most precious to us as Americans, which is freedom.”
For more information about Wang, visit www.wangcataractLASIK.com.