Nurturing the little green guy within us

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 12:00am

We sense the agitation from time to time. It is everywhere in the city. It makes us restless, flustered and frantic; leaving us desperate to maintain even a dash of energy to survive. We rush to work, and rush to finish our lunch to return to work. And when we are finished for the day, we rush home, or rush to our dinner appointment, drink hard and play hard, all done without much thought.

We catwalk through crowds and traffic every day and never seem to have time to stop and take stock of people and the things around us. That is our everyday life, or more accurately, our lifeless everyday existence.

But once in a long while, we might be lucky enough to find something that makes us smile a little and give us that rare heartwarming feeling. Sometimes, it is the very simple things that provide the much-coveted comfort.

I found that glimmer recently from a most unlikely character; a little green guy with a big head, expressive eyes and long antennae on top of his head. This ubiquitous character is the new animated mascot of a local mobile phone network and, for some strange reason, seems to have the rare ability to connect with others and to touch our hearts. The adorable Pluff Pluff is always eager to make friends and share his new experiences. If he is sidelined, he tries again and again. In one advert, his perseverance finally pays off when he befriends a group of teenagers on a football pitch.

To make contact and connect with others, even in the face of rejection and animosity, is a massive task, especially in Hong Kong's current social and political climate.

Many of us seem to have lost the last vestige of basic interpersonal skills - communicating with each other effectively in both verbal and non-verbal ways. Communication is two-way traffic involving a constant exchange of views, conducted in a frank and impartial manner. Unfortunately, our city is rapidly degenerating into one big madness machine, with some people in supposedly important positions churning out aggressive and sometimes scurrilous messages. Sooner or later, we might risk a total breakdown in communication.

Look at the war of words that has erupted as a result of opposing views over constitutional reform and the various definitions of patriotism. We might not always see eye to eye on political issues, but we need to knuckle down together to close the widening rift. We are not moving forward by hurling antagonistic abuse at each other. The more of this pernicious ammunition that is fired, the less will be spoken and the more damage will be done. As a result, we are regressing more in our communication.

There are no quick-fix solutions to our lack of connectedness. To be able to communicate freely and without fear and prejudice is a slow and arduous process of trust-building and soul-searching. We need a small revolution to empower our communication.

If one takes a closer look at the protagonists in the verbal mud-slinging match over political reform, one might pose the questions: who knows anything for sure anymore? And who understands the truth? Without proper communication and a balanced exchange of views, the issues in question will be blurred and the truth will be buried.

Our subconscious drives our desire to connect to people - it is a basic human instinct. We just need to be more willing to kick-start the system. And in the process, we need to put aside our differences, bias, contemptuousness and discrimination. We must nurture the little green guy that is in us all by stopping for a moment for those around us, and opening our hearts and minds to listen to them. With hope and conviction, we will find common ground and rediscover our inherent gift of communicating with our heart.

Luisa Tam is the Post's deputy news editor