If those who joined the July 1 march represent Hong Kong's majority, then where are those people in my neighbourhood? Statistically, the odds must be good for me to come across one or more protesters. I ran up and down the road to ask my neighbours this week if they took part on Monday and couldn't find a single one. Maybe they just didn't want people to know about their involvement, but I seriously doubt that.
From my highly unscientific and partisan survey, I conclude that there is the real quiet majority, people who have no time for politics or protest because they are not upset or don't care enough. Sure, I think most Hongkongers like me and my neighbours want full democracy, clean and efficient government and a fairer society. But most of us realise we already live in a free and safe city, with a relatively efficient civil service. Yes, it's a semi-democratic society full of defects and problems, but then what society isn't?
Many of us also don't want to antagonise or confront the central government. This may be for purely pragmatic reasons, but not a few of us may have patriotic respect for Beijing for what it has achieved in a generation by making the country, while not rich, at least not terribly poor like it was. We - like the vast majority of citizens on the mainland and most governments around the world - accept the central government as the legitimate government of China. And we believe it's better to work with Beijing in good faith to bring about full democracy than confronting it at every turn and denouncing mainland officials at every opportunity.
Such reasonable beliefs are not so hard to understand. But our anti-Beijing crowd insists on not understanding them, or ignoring and suppressing them, because they are at variance with their self-righteous and ideology-driven narrative. By definition, we may be in the majority but we don't make enough noise and attract attention. I respect people's right to protest, but I resent being presented with false choices - democracy good, Beijing evil - as if we were facing an existential moral crisis.
Like most ordinary people, I don't get invited to spring receptions with mainland honchos and local ministers. But if there is an occasion where a mainland official is present and wants to shake everyone's hand, I would certainly shake his as a respectful gesture. If my children tried to join those HKU or Scholarism under-aged protesters, I would ground them for a week and cut their allowances for a month. When the national anthem is played at a public event, I expect them to stand up.