Spotted at Admiralty 25 years to the day after
Who'd have thought even a few weeks ago that
we'd see a sight like this in central Hong Kong?
On November 9, 1989, I happened to be visiting German House, the special interest house for students interested in German language and culture at Beloit College, where I was an undergraduate, when news came that the Berlin Wall had fallen.
Twenty-five years on, I still remember the shock and euphoria that rippled through the house upon our hearing the news -- and my having been poured a glass of straight gin (which I found absolutely foul tasting, and had to ask for some 7-Up to mix into my drink!) to toast the occasion with fellow students who included friends from Japan and the Bahamas as well as Americans and West Germans!
As it so happened, I had visited West Berlin in the summer of 1989 -- and had seen and touched the Berlin Wall with my own hands. While in Berlin, I also had been to the Reichstag and while I was looking over the Berlin Wall to see the Brandenburg Gate and other landmarks that lay at the time in East Berlin, I heard violin music float over from the eastern part of the city to the western part where I was -- and I remember thinking how sad and ironic it was that the music could go from East Berlin to West Berlin but people couldn't freely do so.
If you had asked me at the time whether I could ever envision a time when the Berlin Wall would no longer divide the city, I'd have told you that I couldn't. At that time, it seemed so very permanent. And yet, fall it did -- and within just a few months from when I thought it'd be standing for a very long time, if not forever.
So... twenty five years on, here I am in Hong Kong -- where a socio-political movement that began seven weeks ago now is still going on. Pretty much every week since it began, there have been various individuals calling for the Umbrella Movement -- or, at least the Occupy part of it -- to come to an end. One reason some of these people give is that the protesters are inconveniencing others. Another is that the protests are futile and doomed to fail.
With regards to the former: I don't think I can do much better than quote a sign I saw at Causeway Bay on Thursday -- "SORRY, blockage today is for no political blockage tomorrow". As for the latter: as the example of the (fall of the) Berlin Wall shows, what seems impossible now can become possible at some point in the not too distant future. Also, you never know if you don't try -- and people power sometimes can be very powerful indeed.