Monday, March 27, 2017

Hope against the odds?

Mural with a message in a Sai Ying Pun alley

 Out of Africa comes hope?

This repressive government/police action strikes many people as vindictive, and smacking of an attempt at political cleansing rather than a genuine upholding of justice, particularly since the crimes the pro-democracy activists are now possibly being prosecuted occured some two and half years ago and it's not like they -- who include university professors, lawmakers and a clergyman -- have got a criminal reputation.  And it might make those who already feel despair at the selection of 777 feel even more hopeless.

But even while I'm saddened by recent political events, I refuse to give up on Hong Kong just yet.  For one thing, I learnt a long time ago that life is a marathon, not a sprint and also that we need to think long term rather than just knee jerk react to events related to causes that we hold dear.  And in this particular case, I really hope that people don't decide that the race is over before the finish line is in sight.

And as far fetched as it may initially seem, I think people could do worse than look at the fight to save elephants from extinction in our world.  Human actions caused these noble pachyderms' numbers to fall dramatically in the 19th and 20th century, and there were fears at certain periods in some quarters that these large mammals -- who have existed on this planet for millions of years -- might not exist in the 21st century. 

But while these pachyderms are still being killed for their tusks and their habitat shrinking, elephants continue to roam across much of Africa (including Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia -- all countries I've personally seen these creatures wandering about in the wild) and various parts of Asia (including Malaysia, where elephants can be spotted in national parks and elephant crossing signs by the side of at least one highway).  And there actually have been elephant conservation successes to celebrate in recent years.  

Among the biggest of these was the decision by China late last year to ban domestic ivory trade by the end of this year.  Not too long ago, that action on the part of the Mainland Chinese government would have been unimaginable.  But thanks to the effort of conservationists, some of whom -- like Tanzania-based primatologist Jane Goodall, pictured on one of the murals I came across in Sai Ying Pun last week -- have been at it for much of their life, they have actually become not only possible but reality.     

Returning to the subject of Hong Kong: Rather than despair about its future, one should keep hoping, and also acting -- like the conservationists have been doing.  At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I'd like to urge those who love Hong Kong to stay angry and active, and keep your eyes on the prize. 

Or, in the words of Jane Goodall: "Without patience, I could not have succeeded"; "It is these undeniable qualities of human love and compassion and self-sacrifice that give me hope for the future.  We are, indeed, often cruel and evil.  Nobody can deny this.  We gang up on each one another, we torture each other, with words as well as deeds, we fight, we kill.  But we are also capable of the most noble, generous and heroic behavior"; and "What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you make".  

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