What's happening now in Hong Kong feels like the most Earth-shaking event of my life since the Arab Spring erupted while I was in high school. At that time I was on proverbial tenterhooks to see what this would mean for North Africa, the Middle East and the world. And what it meant was that Tunisia transitioned to a constitutional democracy, seventeen other countries did not transition to constitutional democracies, and Syria spiraled into an eternal civil war that's now a primary contributor to the largest refugee crisis in world history. Not exactly on par with the fall of the Iron Curtain. As yet there have been no other comparable events of such obvious significance in my lifetime. 9/11 could have been, if I had been old enough to understand its repercussions or if I had ever so much as heard of the World Trade Center before that day, but it wasn't.
The proposed legislation that pissed many Hong Kongers off enough to protest has been retracted, but the protesters have still had enough and they want their independence from mainland China altogether. I fully support that goal because the government of mainland China is evil to the core. And this is where things have a chance to turn out differently than the Arab Spring. My hope, in fact - and I don't know the likelihood of this happening, so I'm not getting too excited, but I really really would love it if it did - is for the protests to spread across the mainland, for the entire country to rise up and bring down Winnie the Pooh and the other murdering dictators who control their lives. It would be difficult to coordinate without Facebook, but the government wouldn't have a chance in hell of suppressing such an uprising if it included a majority of the population.
Of course, it does have the power, in theory, to suppress the protesters in Hong Kong, and every intention of doing so. I say "in theory" because there is ample historical precedent for poorly armed, vastly outnumbered underdogs kicking their enemies' trash (e.g. the American colonists, the Viet Cong, the Alliance to Restore the Republic). So I'm on the tenterhooks again waiting to see what will happen, wishing I could actually contribute to this cause I believe in. If I were an actual successful multimillionaire author instead of a virtually unknown blogger talking to himself, I could have enough political and financial influence to put my white savior complex to some use, but as the situation stands I can do little more than pray for them. And I know prayer is powerful, but as the continuing epidemic of mass shootings in my own country demonstrates, it's not a substitute for action.
Even the best case scenario will come at a heavy cost. There is almost no conceivable chance that many, many innocent people won't be disrupted, hurt and killed for standing up for their city's freedom. This is probably why many other Hong Kongers are wary of, or even opposed to, the protests. Every sane protester is undoubtedly terrified. I hope that as the situation deteriorates, their courage and convictions will not falter, and that others will be emboldened by their example to join their ranks. This is mostly what I pray for. I pray that God will strengthen their hearts for what lies ahead. As Captain Peter Quincy Taggart said, "Never give up, never surrender!" As the singers on Atari's video game cash-in album "Yars' Revenge" sang, "Better to die a hero, than to live a slave." And I'm sure there are some similar quotes from real people that I could throw in if I felt like it.
My one piece of white savior advice that will make no difference to anything is that their actual physical violence and vandalism need to be directed at the right people. The protesters need to stop disrupting civilians' lives and livelihoods, no matter how justified they feel. They are needlessly alienating potential allies from their cause. Maybe they need to target police officers. They probably will need to target soldiers and bureaucrats as things heat up. But they should never target anyone merely for having, or being suspected to have, certain political leanings. They should not vandalize businesses, airports, train stations, and the like that are not actively strengthening the government of mainland China. They need to let their call for freedom ring loud and clear without giving others reason to paint them as terrorists or common criminals.
And if/when all hell breaks loose, they should fight clean and with dignity. The government of mainland China will undoubtedly commit war crimes. The rebels shouldn't stoop to that level. While certain regrettable actions may be justified and necessary for this cause, there is a line that should never be crossed. Some things are never justified by even the most noble cause. People of Hong Kong who will never read this, I implore you not to become the very thing you seek to destroy. I know it's none of my business, but I'm praying for you, for your own sakes and for your children and your grandchildren. Good luck.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.