For the past week, nothing has loomed larger on my mind than Hong Kong.
My father – who is 84 years old and struggling with both Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease, was glued to the tube.
“What are you watching, Daddy? Tell me what you’re looking at?”
I called him on the phone after hearing reports of riot police firing teargas and pepper spray at at unarmed pro-democracy protestors.
“I’m watching TV, I’m watching TV…” he mumbled. That’s all he could say, over and over again.
The next day, my younger sister who was on her way to a yoga studio in Mong Kok was scared off the streets and ran for cover underground after witnessing vicious shouts and violent scuffles between the pro-democracy protestors and an unknown agitated crowd of disrupters. She called me after getting home safe but sounding exasperated, expressing angst and fear.
“There are reports that students believe police and the government may be to blame for instigating triads against the Occupy Central group. Rumors are flying…But I find that hard to believe…” I could sense her anxiety.
As I write, the Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung has once again issued a warning to Occupy Central protestors to end their movement, declaring that all major roads blocked by their encampments must be cleared by Monday morning. In a speech Saturday, he said the protests “severely affected residents” daily lives, income and the ability of the government to provide services.” He cited using “all actions necessary” to ensure that government workers could go back to work next week. While he did not specify what those actions may be, many interpret that as a red line.
All my close friends and family in Hong Kong over the past week have been sending emails and Facebook messages asking for prayers for a peaceful end to the escalating tension.
I have assured them of my thoughts and prayers.
Here they are:
Hong Kong has come a long way from when I grew up where business pragmatism and personal materialism ruled. I applaud the courage and passion to speak up and stand up for democratic ideals and practice. But I admire more the wisdom to pull back and stand down from a wrong-headed confrontation to avoid bloodshed.
Hong Kong people have always showed great resilience in the face of crisis and chaos.
I pray that everyone will strive to protect and preserve all that they have built and accomplished, and re-open a dialogue for achievable change that benefits Hong Kong and China.