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September 3, 2019 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Letter from Hong Kong

Fire in the sky. Sunset. (© image: copyrighted, NO permissions granted, All rights reserved)

Fire in the sky. Squint and you can see the racing horse. (© image)

The next time you shift into Outrage Mode over someone having 6 items too many in the grocery store express line, or that guy got the last chicken sandwich, get some perspective on what real problems – what serious trouble is.

A note from an author living on Lantau, a Hong Kong Island.

“Greetings from Hong Kong,

Yes, I made it back despite having two flights canceled on me because of the current protests in the city.

It’s surreal being back in the city that has been my home for so many years. It’s not the same city I left three months ago.

People are living in a climate of fear, afraid to talk about what is happening in case it is used against them. People have been sacked from their jobs for making comments on Social Media, arrested and searched for wearing black t-shirts (the preferred color for the protests), or even worse attacked by iron-rod and machete-wielding Triad thugs. Bizarrely It’s like something I’ve made up for one of my books.

I don’t know where it will all lead. It’s unlikely that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will back down, but for many of the protestors it’s “do or die.”

Friends with foreign passports consider the protests an inconvenience and make comments like “they are unemployed or students with nothing better to do. They should get a life.”

But that’s just what they are fighting for. A life. The people don’t want independence, they want the “One Country, two systems,” that was promised to them back in 1997. For many, they have no other option. They can’t leave, they can’t afford a home in one of the worlds most expensive cities, and a future with no freedom of speech and a lack of human rights is bleak. In a way, the CCP has already won. People are already self-censoring themselves and shutting down social media accounts for fear of being prosecuted. It’s crazy that in what is supposed to be a free society that we are all afraid of what to say! It’s very sad.

The stone-throwing and the blocking of roads have been getting most of the press, but there have been incredible examples of the beauty of humanity. I joined two million peaceful men, women, and children as we marched across Hong Kong Island. No violence, no looting, not even any pushing in the crowds. People were happy and kind, sharing food, water, and smiles. I joined hands with 200,000 people as we made 60 km of human chains across Hong Kong and Kowloon. I was proud to be a part of something so uplifting and beautiful, but the end result was silence from the Government.

I fear though that this weekend will descend into chaos. In the space of the last twenty-four hours, the Government has banned a march on Saturday, arrested two pro-democracy leaders, and two more have been beaten up by masked thugs.

I am actually leaving Hong Kong soon, not because of what is happening, but because I plan to travel and relocate to somewhere with a lower cost of living. I’m not a best-selling author (yet) and Hong Kong living costs are ridiculous. But I feel guilty. I feel I am leaving the city at an important time as if I am betraying the city that has given me so many wonderful memories and has been my home for many years when there are people much braver than I prepared to sacrifice everything in the hope of a better future.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I prepare to depart. My wife and I are selling off our furniture, packing items we want to keep, and finally doing all those things we wanted to do in Hong Kong but have been putting off to another day…”

Postcard of Waterfront. 1928 Hong Kong from the harbour (released to PD Law of Hong Kong/pub.date, artist life/Commons.wikimedia.org)

1928 Postcard of Hong Kong waterfront from the harbour. (PD released by Law of Hong Kong/Commons.wikimedia.org)

(And he continues with his progress with Book 5 and plans for Book 6. Followed by his wavering over moving his book series from Apple and Kobo to Kindle Unlimited/Amazon to possibly increase sales.)

Then he closes with:

“Well, that’s it from me this time. It’s been a bit of a rant, I know, but it feels good to get things off my chest.”

Our mailing address is:

Mark David Abbott – Author

Discovery Bay

Lantau Island

Hong Kong

Links to his books:

Vengeance – John Hayes #1
A Million Reasons – John Hayes #2
A New Beginning – John Hayes #3
No Escape – John Hayes #4

Postcard of Marble Hall (aka Admiralty House) in Hong Kong. 1935 (PD released by Law of Hong Kong/pub.date/artist life/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Postcard of Marble Hall (aka Admiralty House) in 1935 Hong Kong.(PD released by Law of Hong Kong/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Knowing the overwhelming odds, yet choosing to stand up to a government known for their bad record of human rights is at a whole different level of difficulty than being cut off in traffic, being the target of idiotic name calling, or experiencing “discomfort” because a neighbor wears a red hat while you wear a pink one.

Being in the streets as a Hong Kong protestor where your life and that of your family may be destroyed if you are identified isn’t quite comparable to people elsewhere who fling anonymous flame-outs across social media, join online petitions, or directs others to be loud, rude, and impolite if someone dares to disagree with them.

The internet: their denouncer and their only protection. 

Now what were you complaining about?

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

The whole world is watching (everything) and it’s (all) in who’s hands?

“Silicon Valley’s Chinese-style social credit system” “In China, scoring citizen’s behavior is official government policy. U.S. companies are increasingly doing something similar, outside the law…”

(Data doing damage. Source: Fast Company article 8/26/19)

sunset with palm tree and bridge lamp (© image: copyrighted, all rights reserved, NO permissions granted)

And darkness descends. The world grows colder. Oh, OK. Maybe by Halloween. Down to 87F tonight. (© image)

27 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. easyweimaraner / Sep 3 2019 6:39 am

    I love this town a lot … and I hope that the people find a way to live a normal life without dictatorship…

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 3 2019 7:32 am

      Most people just want to live and let live. The trick seems to be finding a place they let you do that.
      Thanks for pawsing to send them some encouragement

      Like

  2. shoreacres / Sep 3 2019 6:44 am

    Tucked into the middle, there’s this: “People are already self-censoring themselves and shutting down social media accounts for fear of being prosecuted. It’s crazy that in what is supposed to be a free society that we are all afraid of what to say! It’s very sad.” Sounds familiar.

    Liked by 6 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 3 2019 7:49 am

      Is it in the water? Feeling the need for caution is increasing everywhere. I started to bold some parts of that letter, but decided best people explore for themselves.
      The EFF’s recent articles: concern about agreements with law enforcement and Ring doorbells/cameras, your friends’ social media postings may sling mud on you, Homeland Security using GPS to track vehicles without warrants…I know, all “to make you safer” (https://www.eff.org)…said by previous governments as they gathered power.
      Times to be cautious about sticking your head in the sand. Governments around the world are shutting the internet down as they need too..(https://www.enmnews.com/2019/09/02/governments-shut-down-the-internet-to-stifle-critics-citizens-pay-the-price/) Talk about ending free thought – and destroying economies at the same time – win-win for some?
      Maybe it’s Halloween already? (The display is up at Home Depot – and such fun )
      Thanks for traveling along

      Like

  3. Kate Crimmins / Sep 3 2019 6:58 am

    There are so many sad things going on in the world (real problems) that I try not to complain. My life is good but it’s human nature to niggle because my coffee isn’t hot enough. I’m grateful that (at least at this point) I don’t have to worry about my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 3 2019 10:00 am

      It’s the loud and constant barrage – just overwhelming.
      Between social media pressure and news media hype, so many are just in super hype – beyond reason – what’s with the fights, anger, even guns being drawn if a place is out of chicken sandwiches? Seriously people get a grip. All conflicts seem to pale by comparison to other places in the world. Try to get along…or take a nap.(Our soup wasn’t really warm at our favorite Thai restaurant, but we’ll manage without violence…but it was close with discovering the wrong items in the bag at Whataburger after a very long wait in line..haha)
      Continue to stay cool, calm, and collected as usual (Hmmm what was the product that was the tag line for? So easily distracted…)
      Thanks for lobbing a comment this way

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ally Bean / Sep 3 2019 8:17 am

    I cannot imagine living in fear for wanting freedom. I realize that our system of government is far from perfect, but we do still have the right to protest it. Not so in Hong Kong. I do not want to see anything like what is happening there happen here, so the message I take from this is: be vigilant lest you see your rights slip away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 3 2019 3:41 pm

      Life in many places is so much different and much more fragile than here. Much to be learned by traveling – best when young and you can live on bread, cheese, and adventure.
      This letter is much like the canary in the mine – your last sentence is so much on target.
      Thanks for your astute comment

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Littlesundog / Sep 3 2019 8:47 am

    I am thankful that I do not have to get out much. I’m glad I never got hooked up with social media. I’ve been a person to do my own research and find resolutions. I stay behind the scenes and observe. It’s what the wild things do, you know. They rely on instinct and their senses. I think being of the silent majority is necessary right now – at least that’s what my inner radar is telling me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. snakesinthegrass2014 / Sep 3 2019 1:47 pm

    Many thanks for sharing his letter. I have been thinking that we’re not really getting much in the way of the whole picture from the one or two minutes the national news spends on Hong Kong every evening. I fear the worst for them, but I pray they can find a way to live the life they were promised.

    Like

  7. Curt Mekemson / Sep 3 2019 5:04 pm

    I find myself less likely to speak out on social media because of all the nastiness that exists out there at this point in time. But speaking out now is more important than ever. Thanks much for including this piece on Hong Kong. Dictators the world over seem emboldened, creating more chaos that enables them to grab more power. A seemingly endless, vicious circle. —Curt

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 3 2019 5:32 pm

      There are times confrontation must happen – or all is lost.
      I keep seeing that image of one man and the tank in Tiananmen Square.
      Bloggers and Twitter users punished as “dissidents” in China, Russia, and the list is grows each day.
      Seen this? Countries cutting off the internet to control thought and actions ( and of course economies suffer. Poverty makes control even easier). If those trial runs work, what are the chances it will be tried/is being done elsewhere: https://www.enmnews.com/2019/09/02/governments-shut-down-the-internet-to-stifle-critics-citizens-pay-the-price/
      Thanks for closely reading.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / Sep 4 2019 10:17 am

        Interesting article. Controlling the flow of information has forever been the way of dictatorships. (Or even religions when you think about one of the prime motivations behind home schooling.) When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia the kids were learning how to read out of California readers. To say that Dick, Jane and Spot were difficult to relate with is major understatement. So I decided to write a Liberian second grade reader. Everybody agreed it was a good project including the government. Peace Corps lined up an editor, an illustrator and a specialist in early childhood education to work with me. I completed the project featuring African folk tales and stories about Liberian children doing the things that the kids loved to do. And then the axe fell. Peace Corps sent a message to me that I was to drop the project and never speak about it. Or I would be kicked out of the country. While the book had zero to do with politics, the Liberian government had decided that it was a threat to it’s one party state! –Curt

        Like

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 4 2019 10:51 am

          Fascinating.
          Oddly, I’ve witnessed the same experience here, believe it or not.
          Nuances of language aside – and suspiciousness/and overly sensitivity (totally unsupported meanings – usually motivated by politics) by controlling stakeholders have torpedoed all sorts of promising projects.
          Sounds to me like you were lucky to get out of there. People do disappear in many places around the world.
          The internet is the only lifeline for many. So many trying to cage it.
          Great story – thanks!

          Like

          • Curt Mekemson / Sep 10 2019 8:22 am

            Thanks. The government got even more excited when I created a student government at the high school. I was told to either shut the government down or pack my bags. And that the students would be arrested. –Curt

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 12 2019 10:20 am

            Always some kid that’a trouble maker HaHa
            So that’s the story that was missing.
            Some things and people never change -( and pretty confident that research would show we are what we were in preschool, just taller)
            Thanks for slipping by.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Curt Mekemson / Sep 17 2019 10:54 am

            It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it. 🙂 And I suspect you are right about preschool. Good thing I was never in one…

            Like

  8. Jane Dougherty / Sep 4 2019 1:13 am

    The extradition law has been revoked. The authorities have backed down, so maybe things will settle down. A great demonstration of moral courage anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 4 2019 7:47 am

      Gladly saw that news early this morning (the entire world probably breathed better – talk about painting oneself in a corner), so their initial concern has been address – time will tell if that’s enough. Lessons have been learned – on both sides.
      Courage of conviction illustrated clearly and with power. Historic.
      Thanks for mailing in the update.

      Like

      • Jane Dougherty / Sep 4 2019 8:33 am

        It took courage to stand up to China. People power. Maybe other people could follow their lead?

        Like

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 4 2019 8:46 am

          That’s the way it’s always been: Strength in numbers. And the opposition side’s: “those with the guns make the rules” (as in Venezuela and Cuba) Something especially true if the population has been kept weak from hunger and poverty, free speech prohibited, with little access to education and information.
          In Hong Kong, they are saying too little too late. Hang on.

          Like

          • Jane Dougherty / Sep 4 2019 2:04 pm

            They have five demands. So far they’ve got one, but they daren’t let the police do the policing of any deal, not after the way they’ve behaved. I wouldn’t trust them either.

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 4 2019 2:24 pm

            And they want an independent investigation of police brutality. You are so right: extreme caution needed.

            Like

          • Jane Dougherty / Sep 4 2019 2:33 pm

            It’s hard to see how China can let them remain outside Chinese jurisdiction with a special statute forever though. I wish them well, but I fear it’s going to end badly. If not this time, the next. Which I why I admire them so much.

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 4 2019 2:46 pm

            I think you are right about the outcome. China has too much to lose. These are very brave people.

            Like

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