From NYC to YVR
It never got nearly as cold as they had described when we were in NYC even though the mercury dropped below -8 Degrees Celsius when we were there. Indeed, it had been sunny most of the time, and I needed sunglasses to go out of the hotel. Central Park looked rather frosty and barren though from Le Parker Meriden; so for a change, we abandoned our morning strolls and breakfast in the Park and went to Brooklyn Diner for a heavy breakfast instead, which lasted us for a long time, till dinner with my son.
He was in Hong Kong last October shortly after the Occupy Movement began, while my daughter came a week after he left, so that brother and sister did not meet in Hong Kong. I had a chance to discuss Hong Kong’s recent political development with my daughter then, but not with my son. This time, he brought it up of his own accord over dinner. Happily, my children are rather pragmatic and share the fundamental values to which I subscribe, which helps further relationship building.
I am glad that my children are reasonable and sensible as far as political reality in Hong Kong is concerned; and let me quickly add that not all the peers with whom they grew up in Hong Kong are the same. My children think that China is magnanimous and brave to give Hong Kong a reform framework whereby every voter can elect the next chief executive. American voters do not have such a right, but not every American realizes or cares about that. As regards Police brutality, they say that Hong Kong Police are too kind and restrained to be able to do the real work they are paid to execute. They find the students unrealistic, unreasonable and irrational, and they don’t understand why Hong Kong’s agenda apparently are being controlled by the media rather than by the Government. My son asked me how I saw Hong Kong’s political future unfolding. My daughter who could not join us in NYC this time had asked me something similar when we met last time in Hong Kong.
It would take a full length thesis exposition to address the one-line question put to me by my son; and no one in Hong Kong or elsewhere would have the answer. I think what we see in Hong Kong today is not unique. It is happening in every community in a western style administration or in short in every city or country which cannot free itself from American influence or interest. It is a consequence of man’s eternal struggle for power and dominance ever aggravated by the uneven distribution of natural resources and not helped by the exponential expansion or even explosion in information technology. The result is that the average person goes after instant answers rather than solutions for the apparent but probably unreal problems before his eyes. The average person now hardly exercises his mental faculty or is unaware of the powerfulness of the mind. He allows himself to believe what he sees and listens to what he wants to listen. Such individuals follow like sheep and are destined to be slaughtered as such. Let me quickly say that what I have just said is nothing new: we have all seen such events unfolding before, albeit in different shapes, forms and intensity maybe.
While I cannot see quick and immediate solutions for Hong Kong’s political reform, I am not saying that I have no faith in Hong Kong’s future. I always have faith in Hong Kong. I have never ever sought to leave Hong Kong all these years, not that I did not have the means to do so. I chose to stay in Hong Kong all these years; and I took up the British Passport so that I could keep the job I was holding, the only job I had taken up since I left the University and which job I had held until I retired at my rightful age. Do not rush to heap laurels on me or to tell me what a loyal, dedicated and staunch Hong Kong supporter I am. To someone else, I could be branded a truly lazy person who doesn’t want changes and would not accept changes. I would not defend myself for such labeling; I don’t need to and I hope one day, someone would say something appropriate for my obituary.
I have chosen to stay in and with Hong Kong because this is the place in which I have lived the longest. It is a position I have taken so that I would plan my life and days there from. I have been ridiculed time and again by some friends, who actually should more appropriately be called acquaintances, for not planning for an exit from Hong Kong, which they say is weakening from day to day and will definitely sink to the bottom of the ocean and disappear forever from the radar’s screen. Most of these critics have typically left Hong Kong some well before 1997 and some have even returned since but are making renewed efforts to leave again. Indeed, I met a few recently in Hong Kong and once again they urged me seriously to plan for such devices, with such sincerity and justifications that would have moved me if only I had had a brain transfer. But I have always loved my own brain, which like Hong Kong, may not be perfect, but is mine and will always be mine.
My position on Hong Kong has not though affected my esteem for anyone who has chosen other positions. This is what freedom of choice entails and demands. For that matter, my children have chosen to stay in America even though they have yet to consider taking up the citizenship. They have chosen to be educated in the country, which has contributed to my inability to acquire a few of my dream cars or properties, but they are my only children and I would try to help them as much as I can. Besides, I don’t need those cars and properties.
One can do so much in an international city such as NYC or for that matter in Hong Kong or London, such that one can easily be drowned by the choices. The cab driver who took us to JFK Airport for our flight to YVR summed it all in one sentence, “NYC is not America.” By implication, Hong Kong is not China, but only part and parcel of China. This cab driver is a Russian Jew who came here 20 years ago when he was about 20. He had come here for the American Dream and was very happy as a single bachelor in Richmond Virginia until he met his wife who loved the excitements NYC offered. They got married and he now typically works a 16-hour day to raise his two children and to keep his wife happy. We went to see Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow by the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Centre. It was a new production, with only one performance but broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio. Su and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and the experience, which was easily the highlight of the short visit, apart from the meetings with my son.
I hope to talk to you again from Vancouver.