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MSNBC’s Richard Lui calls for values he learned from his dad: Selflessness

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By Lindsay Wang, AsAmNews intern

Seven years ago, award-winning broadcast journalist Richard Lui made the difficult decision to switch from full-time to part-time news anchor at MSNBC. When his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Lui found himself struggling to reconcile the trajectory of his career path with the value of service to others his parents had instilled within him.

“He would have done the same for me,” Lui said of his choice to become his father’s caregiver. “He wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. What I think happened as I was growing up is you watch things … And I think I was just watching my parents and their choices. It was about service to others and about taking care of us,” he told AsAmNews

Over the past seven years, Lui has been reflecting on his decision. He has come to appreciate the importance of selflessness, a concept at the center of his new book, Enough About Me which is scheduled to be released on March 23. Pre-orders are now being accepted.

“To be selfless, you don’t have to be Mother Teresa,” he said. “You don’t have to be Pope Francis. What we need to do are a lot of little things, and we have to build muscles, little by little, so that when the big thing happens, we’re ready.”

For Lui, the mobilization of frontline workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic exemplified this concept of exercising “selfless muscles.” After spending every single day of their careers taking care of other people, healthcare workers have developed a built-in sense of selflessness that gives them the courage to return to work every day, placing their bodies and lives at risk for the sake of others.

Lui also emphasized the importance of moderation and self-care, especially during a socially isolating pandemic. He warned about sacrificing your own health in providing care to others.

Lui stated that the danger of “unmitigated selflessness” lies in how the self disappears entirely, endangering both the selfless individual and the recipient of the selflessness. “You do not want to give too much of yourself, but you do want to see how the power is in ‘we,’ not in ‘me,’” he said.

In Enough About Me, Lui points out his own imperfections and selfishness. He moved away to go to business school and then to Asia to work at Citibank-moves he said were about himself and not his family. He says he still finds himself making selfish decisions.

In breaking out of this cycle of self-worship, Lui acknowledged the role that family and familial values played in his decision to become a caregiver. According to an AARP report, 42 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were caregivers for elders versus 22 percent of the general population.

“That’s probably driven more by family culture — filial piety, which is very common in Asian cultures,” he said. “It still fits in the family of selflessness, but it’s driven into us very early that — your family, your family, your family, and you give everything for your family … Like the Latino Hispanic American culture — Same thing is true there, too.”

As the rate of anti-AAPI hate crimes increases across the nation, Lui finds himself rediscovering and reaffirming the importance of selflessness. “A lot of what we’re seeing today with hate crimes — it comes from selfishness,” he said. “And I think if we can bring on the very simple antidote of selflessness, we’ll get to the other side of all this stuff.”

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story.


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