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  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:11pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 2:12am

Democracy is a real religion

I had not met a childhood friend for years, until this week. Ostensibly it's because he has a growing business on the mainland while I spend most of my time in Hong Kong. The real reason is that we simply drifted apart as we grew older and had our own families and children. A bunch of us have been friends since we were classmates at a Catholic primary school and used to have gatherings regularly, to gamble playing cards and mahjong.

But I got bored over the years because our conversation topics were always the same: soccer, soccer gambling, horse-race gambling, other sports, including sports cars, and women. As we got older, we added children and schooling to our conversations. As post-60s children, we never thought much about politics. It was just beyond our mental horizon to protest in the streets and fight with police.

So I was expecting more talks about children and schooling when my friend called me and a mutual pal up this week. We did talk a bit about that, until we inadvertently turned our conversation to Occupy Central. My friend has had a conversion on the road to Damascus! "I am joining it next year," he declared.

"You got your sleeping bag?" we asked, half-jokingly.

"No, no, I am serious. We have to do something. Benny Tai [Yiu-ting, organiser of Occupy Central] is not like 'Long Hair' [Leung Kwok-hung] or Wong Yuk-man. He has a serious aim. So do others who are joining him."

Seeing how earnest he was, my other pal and I started laughing even more loudly. "But you will be breaking the law."

"Fine, I go to jail then. If you do nothing, Beijing will just ignore us and do nothing. We don't want to see Hong Kong 'mainlandised', and become another Shanghai or Shenzhen. You people live all your life in Hong Kong. I have spent half my life on the mainland. I know how things work on the mainland and you don't want Hong Kong to end up like that.

"We may still get nothing with universal suffrage. But at least we are trying. You people are sitting on your *****; you are so shallow."

Last time I saw such fervour was when another friend discovered Christianity.

Seeing my old friend in a detention cell was never a possibility in my mind. Now it is. My friend has just become a lot more interesting. I must not let him out of my life this time.

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18

This article is now closed to comments

rsallen
Ridiculous headline, which completely misrepresents the tone of the article.
321manu
Indeed, those who are "religious" (well, Christian, anyway) do claim to be able to distinguish between good and evil. Only problem is that said distinction is based on faith, which itself is supported only by a book which some guys have cobbled together over the last few thousand years. I wouldn't take that to the bank. Better to engage what's between one's ears, rather than to rely on something that's unproven. Better still to think for yourself, rather than to rely on the Opinion section.
kevin.mallen1
Alex Lo is a disgrace to journalism, he sounds like a government crony, his articles are all completely biased in deference to his paymasters in Beijing. He should learn to be more critical with articles. "You'll be breaking the law". Right. Did that stop Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington? They were also breaking the law at the time. If I recall correctly, Nelson Mandela also spent 28 years in jail. He broke the law. If the law is unjust, it is your duty to resist.
kevin.mallen1
"You'll be breaking the law". You are an idiot Alex Lo; what about Rosa Parks? She broke the law too.
johnyuan
Please allow me to chirp in one more time. This time is about generation gap. Among my secondary schoolmates who are a decade older than those born in the 50s, none are in connection with daily politics like AL. AL is a journalist and a political kind. So if my schoolmates are a standard of that 40s generation who mostly had spent time in mainland before migrated with their parents as refugees to Hong Kong, it is a generation that mostly economically secured and looking forward for fun in their next school reunion. They are apolitical as far as I can tell. Definitely there is a generation gap with just a decade apart. Can’t imagine the gap between the 50s and the late 90s who are still in their secondary schools how far apart can it be. As for my schoolmates, most likely life is a bit short to disagree with anyone.
XYZ
1. Mr. Lo, God bless him, is not a journalist. He is a columnist. There's a big difference. He's entitled to his opinion; journalists, supposedly, are not. As the Americans say, "I'm just sayin".
.
2. The younger generation may be more "political" than previous generations for at least two reasons. Firstly, the whole world, everywhere, is a lot freer than it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago. On balance, I think that is a good thing. Secondly, the current political trend in Hong Kong seems to be closing off opportunities, economically as well as socially, rather than expanding them, so they naturally speak up and speak out as a result of their individual and collective frustrations.
.
The older generations are entitled to respect for all that they endured and all that they accomplished. However, that does not negate the younger generations' justified frustration at the fact that hard work and moral rectitude in the current environment doesn't count for much when those attributes can't get one into a good school, can't get one a good job, and can't provide one with the wherewithal to buy a 400 square foot concrete box to live in.
pslhk
According to a popular contemporary religious sect
the world is flat, and to share with you what I read
over lunch in International NY Times, Opinion
Today (Oct 16) there are three articles on page 9
Two of which begin thus:
“Americans are obsessed with the supernatural”
“In Ireland, ancestry means everything”
-
So, the world is flat for the propagation of stereotypes
Everybody can be a cultural expert
All that’s required is the nerve to allege:
the Americans, British, Chinese … are …
For the religious, those empowered by the forbidden fruit,
good and evil become distinguishable
-
The third article ends thus:
Sharing is caring
Secrets are lies
Privacy is theft
-
Cactus: I’ve never meant to write poems
just experimenting atomization of ideas for expression
caractacus
Having spent half his life in China, perhaps your friend really does know how bad it can get...
likingming
I would like to know the reasons, together with the benefits, why he opted his first half.
impala
Subtitle: 'In which Mr Lo encounters a person with a spine, principles and a dose of idealism and doesn't recognise these things, opting to label them 'religion' instead.'

You see Mr Lo, we are not all hypocritical technocratic pragmatists like, oh I don't know - some columnists.
321manu
You are indeed what you read. For some, unfortunately, the inherent selection bias that accompanies the concept is entirely lost upon them. Alas, Mr. Lo, and some others here, might do well to inspect principles for their worth, and not merely based on the congruence of said principles to their apparently strongly held "religious" beliefs, such as they are.
For some, a little self-reflection might afford them at least the capacity to change their tune; for others, unfortunately, it looks like it'll be the same broken record playing that same old song.
pslhk
Your “friend has just become a lot more INTERESTING”
that’s why
you “must not let him out of” your journalist “life this time”
-
A friend in need is a friend indeed
an interesting source of entertaining news from Damascus to Beijing
-
Geologists and linguists will follow your columns
to analyze pebbles and stone along the track
or the English spellings of all these exotic places
They’re already out working
as evienced in the comments
-
Ce n'est pas bon
Ils ont change ma chanson
caractacus
Pierce Lam, why don't you take a rest from poetry? You are really very bad at it.
pslhk
It’s a common seamen’s boast:
“you people live your lives on land,
ignorant about the sea and the world”
Most of them actually know nothing about ships and seas
and what they know about the world, their “worlds” !!!
-
For reliable info, let’s listen to the learned, such as
Jim Rogers who needs no introduction
or Tim Clissold, Cambridge Physicist and “Arthur Andersen”,
who shares his coming of age experience in “Mr China”
The fact is, too many also-rans retire without ever coming of age
-
You’re what you read
It’s your choice, to be in the company of successes or failures
johnyuan
Democracy is an idea in how human behaves. It has few followers and US is being recognized as the most fervent country that embraces that idea. US for its puritan origin also once embraced Christianity as its favorable religion but which is on its way supplanted by translating it into democracy idea. But democracy can never replace religion or Christianity totally. In Christianity there is an eternal hell awaiting all sinners. Democracy is no real religion in the absence of that threat.
……
Democracy when existed in tendon with Christianity, the drop in the latter has had a change in US of its people and as a country. US may have enjoyed but passed its golden age as people and country among the rest of the world.
……
I went to a Catholic primary school too. I am not particularly a religion person. Just passing on at the instigation by today’s caption of what I have been observing all these years. AL is lucky still has schoolmates keeping check.
XYZ
The headline misleads, unfortunately. The article itself was a pleasant surprise.
321manu
"You people live all your life in Hong Kong. I have spent half my life on the mainland. I know how things work on the mainland and you don't want Hong Kong to end up like that."
---Not only should Mr. Lo keep in touch with his friend, he should also listen to him more carefully and in earnest. It seems a certain subset of Hkers are all-too-willing to accept the CCP with open arms, without having any real knowledge of what exactly they're inviting into their house. Commitment to principles with religious fervor is not necessarily a bad thing; it beats passive acceptance based on blind faith.
lainy
Amen!!!
 
 
 
 
 

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