The last three months have been insane. Hong Kong, my home, has been torn asunder as we come to grips with how Beijing interprets and disrespects “one country, two systems”. Many of my friends overseas have asked how this is affecting me — thank you for your concern, and here is my answer.
This crisis, protest, revolution, movement — call it what you will — has overshadowed all else in my life, and the lives of many people I know here. I still wake, eat, work and play much like before, but the situation has shaken my sense of optimism, ambition and trust, and it colours every conversation and interaction I have. This conflict began peacefully, but the lack of leadership skills in the Chinese and Hong Kong government has passed the problem off to an undisciplined, cowardly and morally bankrupt police force and the triads they collude with. This has caused it to become a violent one, and protests are growing more dangerous with each clash.
However, the youth of the protestors, and the economic prosperity of Hong Kong (at least for those at the top), can make our uprising seem less important and dramatic than the Arab Spring or the fight undertaken by those that died in the treads of a tank in the Tiananmen Massacre. But it’s the same — we are confronting leaders who refuse to represent or listen to their people, and they resort to underhanded methods to hold onto power. From my limited experience as a Hong Kong citizen, I can testify that being oppressed sucks!
So we fight back. But how? I unreservedly support the young protestors on the front line. They are so brave, selfless and committed that I have often cried as I stand back at a safe distance and watch them in action. The beauty — and messiness — of this movement is its lack of leadership, and the agreement of all that we will support each other in our different methods of protest. I do not always agree with frontline tactics, but I support them and stand behind them, physically and in spirit.
I’m mad, I want to fight back. I have some “solutions” in mind for our despicable leaders and police force. But I also want peace. Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world, and I want it to stay that way. I want the honourable, peaceful side of me to take control of my reaction to this. I want to tap into a relentless, positive spirit, because it’s that kind of a fight, with many chapters yet to come.
I’m a writer, but I have been unable to write coherently about what is happening in Hong Kong. So I have chosen to simply go to protests. I don’t chant, I don’t wave a sign, I don’t often post it on social media. I just lace up my running shoes, bring water, a hat and an umbrella (the symbol of our revolution) — and lately I’ve added a face mask, to further safeguard my future. Then I add one to the number. 1. Just me, and 2 million others. Weekend after weekend.
I have a lot of ideas and questions and angry things to say, but right now it’s enough to say I wear black, and I stand for freedom of speech, a vote, the rule of law and responsible, respectable police. And you, wearing your ridiculous riot gear, a white T-shirt, or big crocodile tears, you don’t put these things first, and therefore you stand in our way. I have an unwavering confidence that we are the righteous, and on the right side of history. So I’ll do what I can, which is take to the streets to say that this city belongs to us, and not to you.
Padlock the door and board the windows
Put the people in the street
“It’s just my job,” he says “I’m sorry.”
And draws a check, goes home to eat
But at night he tells his woman
“I know I hide behind the laws.”
She says, “You’re only taking orders.”
That’s how every empire falls.
Please support us as we stand for our democratic ideals in Hong Kong. Trustworthy information is our weapon. Please follow and support the small, resilient independent media outlets reporting from the front line, such as the non-profit Hong Kong Free Press.