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Yes this is a revolution

September 29, 2014

Oh God, I’m so scared.

I’m terrified because everything that I thought I knew about Hong Kong politics and society just completely evaporated over the weekend. This is exciting but it is also really, really scary because you have no idea what the future looks like, and it could easily turn very, very ugly in a lot of different ways.

For example, before this weekend, I would have thought it unthinkable that someone would pull out tanks. The trouble is that not that I have any particular reason to think that China would send in the tanks, but rather that everything that I thought was possible or impossible has now evaporated, so I just don’t know. But it works both ways. Before this weekend, I would have told you that is was unthinkable that Beijing would decide to embrace the changes that are going on right now in Hong Kong. But I don’t know anymore. It’s not that I have any reason to think that Beijing would do this, but I don’t know what I know.

It’s like stepping into a new reality, you no longer *know* what is the new world like, and neither does anyone else.

This morning I got up and walked to the MTR as I usually do. And as I walked to the station, I gradually noticed that things were different, and it took me a few moments to notice that most people were wearing black. It’s like walking into a dream. You are walking down the corridor, and then you notice people are just dressed differently. No one is acting differently, but you just realize that the world has changed. Then you wait for a green roof minibus. Normally it stops and you get in. But today, several minibuses pass by and they are all full. This doesn’t happen in HK. I had to take a red taxi to get where I was going. I never had to take a red taxi.

In the afternoon, I went to Causeway Bay, and there is a spot where there is a yellow Falugong sign. That sign is always there. But today someone moved it, and put up a set of posters on Hong Kong police brutality. Some of the MTR station exits at Causeway Bay were closed and blocked by parking barricades. MTR stations never have barricades. You had parking barricades in the street. That never happens.

Each difference is a small difference, but then all of these small differences add up, and you realize that you are in a different world, which you no longer completely understand. It’s very strange, it’s not as if everything is different, and you are glad to see that some things are the same. The shops are open in Causeway Bay, the buses are running, people are selling real estate, but there are enough differences that it’s like walking in a dream world.

Everything that I believed last week is now an open question. You just have to look at my quora postings over the last week to realize what a new and crazy world I’ve run into, and if you realize that I’ve changed completely in such a short time, what about everyone else.

The students are excited because a revolution is new to them. But its not new to me. Because I’m older it scares me a lot because I’ve personally experienced all of the ways that things can go terribly, terribly wrong. There is a tiny bit of me that is absolutely giddy at the new possibilities that could open up. But right now, I don’t dare celebrate, because I’ve seen things go horribly, horribly wrong.

Make no mistake, this is a revolution. This is the world turned upside down. The demonstrations are happening in a few blocks, but everywhere in Hong Kong, everything is different. I don’t understand what is happening in the new world. Neither does anyone else. But it seems OK for the moment.

Normally you know what happens tomorrow, you can predict and plan, but I honestly have no idea what Hong Kong is going to be like at the end of this week after the major holidays, and neither does anyone else. I was talking to someone about demonstrations, and then I realized that it was only 24 hours since they started. Last week seems like ancient history, because it was.

I have no idea what the future is, but all of the fears and uncertainties that I’ve had over radical changes are now irrelevant. The old world is dead, and we are seeing the birth of a new world. However, I cannot celebrate because I don’t want to have my dreams crushed once more. I’ll just take each day one step at a time, and move cautiously into the new world.

But one thing that I’ve learned is to enjoy a brief moment. Because even if everything goes bad, you can keep that one moment, and there was the sky. There was a beautiful blue sky today. Normally the sky is dusty, and it causes problems with my asthma. But today the sky was clear and a beautiful shade of blue. People always blamed the air pollution on Mainland China, and assumed that there was nothing that could be done about it, but when the student set up the barricades and traffic couldn’t run, it turned out that the problem was in Hong Kong after all, and yes we could fix it if we really wanted to.

From → hong kong

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