Hong Kong Chinese are renowned for being blunt, loud-mouthed, and generally having a no-bullshit attitude. I say so myself as a proud Hongkonger. Hongkongers are not rude, I tell people — they just don’t have time for your crap.
You could say this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the city has long been renowned for its efficiency. On the other hand, this directness we possess can sometimes turn into aggression.
For years now, I have both witnessed and occasionally been on the receiving end of unneighborly behavior from Hongkongers — from bus and taxi drivers to shopkeepers to random passersby. Outbursts of anger are not random — they seem to be a way of life here.
I think we can all agree that, in recent months, Hong Kong society has been more divisive than ever — whichever side of the political spectrum you stand on. Debates turn into heated arguments, and relationships take a toll. There is an increasing amount of confrontation and violence taking place during protests.
But here’s the thing: during these trying times, I have seen humanity shine through across society. We often hear of stories of protesters helping out bystanders who had been affected.
A friend of mine, who was hit by tear gas after a trip to the supermarket, spoke of protesters guiding her home.
My cousin praised a woman who assisted groups of stranded domestic helpers in getting home on a Sunday evening, after transportation on Hong Kong island west came to a standstill. This lady walked around the Central area, offering to call domestic helpers’ employers to explain the situation, and also paid for their cab rides.
Elsewhere, there are countless volunteers who work to distribute supplies in aid of protesters. Shops that line the streets of areas where demonstrations regularly take place often leave out boxes of bottled water for protesters. And how could you not appreciate young protesters who walk around rallies offering “free hugs”?
Maybe it’s ironic that it takes turmoil on such a scale for us to start being human again — but in many ways, it has also restored my faith in us, as a people.
We still believe in what we believe in — and many of us are prepared to do whatever it takes to fight for what we think is right. But in the meantime, let’s all make a conscious effort to be kinder to each other.
All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
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