The Sound of Silence
I wish I knew where to begin. I wish I knew what to say.
Watching the recent news of my city Hong Kong brought me back to my childhood — the constant fighting of two parents while growing up, the two human beings with totally different values in life battling under the same roof, non-stop.
Sure, Hong Kong’s fight for freedom is at an absolutely different scale from my parents’ everyday life conflicts, but the struggle of power and the inability to solve tensions and differences are so similar that it sends creeps down my spine.
As a child, I was expected by two funny grown-ups, namingly, “mum” & “dad” to solve their unhappiness toward one another. They used to ask me during fight what they should do (Perhaps, that’s how I got ingrained with this mission to support people to build trust while stay true to self).
Must say, dad at times acted exactly like the Chinese communist party, taking advantage of his own economic power to get people to do what he wanted (manipulating, and not keeping his words), while mum acted exactly like those older generation happy-go-lucky Hong Kong-ers who concerned only bread on the table, and Sunday shopping mall with air-con. In times of peace and prosperity, she totally neglected what was important to her…
And for a very long time, I thought I was a warrior to protect mum from dad’s tyrannical acts. But once mum sought for my support to gain her autonomy from dad, but in the middle of the road, she turned her back against our fight together and told me that I was wrong to prioritize “freedom”. She told me at the end that it was important to be “good”, “peaceful” and “safe”…
Don’t get me wrong, I love mum and I respect her a lot (in fact, both of my parents in very different ways). She is loving and has given so much to the cosiness of our family. Yes, just like Hong Kong to the success of this giant economic power - mainland China as we all now know about.
We can have two interpretations when speaking about the two forces happening in Hong Kong. We can read it as one side: the freedom fighters with the agenda to bring back Hong Kong autonomy, freedom and justice; and another side as the peace-keepers with the agenda for peace, safety and economic prosperity for the city. Or you can read it as Hong Kong as a tiny disempowered city and China as the big giant country that craves to be “the leader” for the world — at least in terms of economy.
As it stands, right now there is a lot of ambiguity and manipulation in the form of news everywhere. There is a big risk that everyone will send themselves down the dark spiral of echo-chambers — including myself who have this tendency to do everything for freedom and fight against tyranny.
We can fight Tyranny but we cannot fight Hate.
Of course with such strong hatred saturated in the city, I have no doubt that the malice of particular individuals from the protestors and the police force is true. But the problem of the situation is much deeper.
It is about a history that is about to repeat itself. It is about the dark shadows of the horrifying past 50 years ago during the cultural revolution where nothing was honest, nothing was straight, and people would die because of the name that they received! (right now in Hong Kong, the police are all called “dogs” & the freedom fighters are all called the “pest”).
Fake news is real!
Also remember, the ability to produce propaganda by the Chinese (and now the pro-Bejing HK) governments is real!! They have the know-how to get people turning against each other by creating violent scenes, censoring the truth, writing narratives with fake news that suits their agendas.
Such a messy situation is not anyone’s fault, but at the same time, everyone’s fault. If you asked what you can do. No one knows. Spread the gospel? Keep peace? Uphold the law? Fight for freedom? All of them are virtuous IF you can stay pure and true to what you are committed to. But the temptation to get carried away and start to justifying ourselves to be self-righteous muddles everything up.
Knowing what we are fighting for.
Perhaps, my parents’ relationship is trivial—just like Hong Kong city comparing to those global crises that we face on the planet. But as a child back then, it was my whole reality. I had hope and saw every conflict as an opportunity to resolve and bring ultimate happiness.
I remember vividly how I tried to do my very best. I tried to act mature and all-knowing so I could help them to make peace. I was clueless what they were fighting about but I pretended to know. I remember how I told my parents that all they needed to do was to get better at their respective roles and stop disappointing each other. “Dad, be a better man and let mum be” “Mum, be a better woman and let dad be”. And of course, as 7 years old, I had no idea at all what those words mean.
Now I’m no longer the innocent child that I used to be, I have a life of my own. I experienced my own heartbreak, my own conflicts, my own confusion and my own helplessness to be who I’m. But the sensation of wanting people to understand each other and live their truth has not ceased and perhaps, never will.
Sometimes I judge myself to be so obsessed with wanting the whole world to work together, to keep challenging ourselves and not assume our own righteousness etc. It is an exhausting way of living.
Having no tangible role & position makes you weak and vulnerable in the world. But the temptation to label “Others” — the trigger of world war and disastrous revolution as we know from 50 years ago — is just next door in the past.
The heartbeat of young people from Hong Kong wakes up the reality of Hong Kong and the world. They crave to conserve the freedom inside their own beautiful home where they can feel safe and free to live their own full potential as human beings. Is it too much to ask for?!
For me, it is important to be clear that the current protest lead by young people in Hong Kong is an attempt “to resolve the conflict” and “not the conflict itself” - like me in the past wanting a nice safe home. And as long as we are committed to freedom with integrity and truth, we have hope. After all, what is love (for the city, ourselves and others) but CONSISTENCY in our actions and thoughts?
Sound of Silence by Pentatonix
Click HERE to listen.
Hello, darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
Carrie spent most of her life navigating possibilities & her relationship with the world between cities and continents. She surfed waves of uncertainty that spurred both her failures and successes in both start-ups and corporate environments. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carrieso/
She founded the CO-Happening community in Paris in 2017. It started off as a call out for like-minded collaborators to explore the alternatives of what is “invisible to the eyes”. Since then, over 1.200 people joined and ran over 30 events in cities such as Paris, Berlin & Hong Kong. https://www.cohappening.space/
CoHap Lab emerged out of the community in September 2018 based on the demands to innovate tools & training that enable members to effectively cultivate their ideas, missions & passions to make things happen! https://www.cohappening.space/cohaplab1/