General

Hope

Yesterday, we had another day of almost complete lockdown brought about by tropical storm Nangka. I got up just in time to see the news that Hong Kong Observatory had hoisted the No. 8 NE signal and got back to my warm bed for two more hours before contemplating breakfast. We were to meet at 1:30pm at Zetland Hall, but the weather conditions meant that the boss had to arrange hurriedly a zoom meeting. In the end, quite a few turned up. Zoom meetings have now become a norm.

The news continued to be dominated by the last minute postponement of Carrie Lam’s Policy Address and the knee jerk negative responses of the pan democrats. I have lamented in my blogs before that Hong Kong is the only city I know of that does not have a press to speak for its causes and policies, but on the other hand has voted public funds to staff an outfit the primary object of which is to bad mouth if not to humiliate the government and its programmes. I would invite the media to look at the governments of Trump or Johnson and learn how they have routinely and successfully expelled from press conferences reporters they don’t like and for no good reasons, and more importantly would not be held accountable for such uncivil actions. My conclusion is that Hong Kong is not run by professionals, but rather amateur politicians whose object is to play to the gallery and to grab headlines in the process. It seems that these people, pro-government and oppositions alike, cannot see a future in Hong Kong or for themselves. They are afraid of China and the governments in the West on the one hand and have no confidence in themselves to do a good job or believe in themselves. In short, they don’t have Hope as a virtue.

Today, we had news coverage of President Xi’s almost an-hour-long speech in Shenzhen marking the 40th anniversary of its opening up. It was a rather upbeat speech on the one hand, and a reminder that Hong Kong has lost out in this rabbit and turtle race. If our young generations still choose to sleep over in the race, Hong Kong would lose out permanently.

Last Sunday, my favourite priest Robert talked about Christians’ Hope in general and hope in God in particular during his homily at Mass. The First Reading was taken from Isaiah who was a prophet in the 8th Century BC when Israel had been defeated and the chosen people were either taken captives or in exile. Isaiah told the people that God would eventually destroy their enemies, and his prophecies had thus brought the people hope. The Responsorial Psalm was taken from the very famous Psalm 23 which was generally attributed to King David, but the author or authors had probably written those beautiful words while in exile, which Robert said they could only have been able to articulate such hopeful concepts because they had hope in their God. The Second Reading from Philippians was written by St. Paul while he was in jail, but he placed his hope in the risen Christ who had called him to spread the gospel. Finally, the parables in the gospel from Matthew on the kingdom of heaven described the hopes and joys of a wedding banquet to which everyone would be invited as long as he is properly attired, implying that he should be clothed in Christian Charity.

One cannot expect our civil servants or politicians would cherish the gift of Hope or would pray for such virtues from the gods in whom they trust, but suffice it to say that until they have someone to give them hope and something to hope for, they could be leading a meaningless life and would continue to go about their days and years like a boat without a rudder meandering wherever the wind takes them. That indeed could be happening to so many in Hong Kong these days. Thus we see many people around us these days living in fears and anxieties seemingly living without hope for the future, but are quick to lay blames for what they dislike on others or anyone except themselves.  They then conclude that the society or community is torn, divided and sub-divided. Some resort to leave and some would even think of ending their lives. Robert mentioned the fine example afforded by Sima Qian, the Chinese historian of the early Han Dynasty recognized for his Records of the Grand Historian which covers more than two thousand years of Chinese history from the Yellow Emperor, despite having been put in prison and under extreme physical and humiliating punishments. It was his hope to finish his work that had given him the strength to carry on in great adversity. Robert went on to suggest that times were not good for the Jews when Jesus began his public life. The people had hoped that Jesus would bring better times or perhaps change the government, but Jesus did none of those. Instead, Jesus had not attempted to change the government of the day, but had focused on preaching the Gospel, asking people to repent, to forgive and to love one another; or in short to learn to trust in God and to place their hopes in God.

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