We must put a stop to finger-pointing in Hong Kong and show tolerance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 July, 2015, 5:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 July, 2015, 5:17pm

When I joined the annual July 1 march in Hong Kong, I saw a lot of booths on the street.

I don't agree with the mission of some of the groups, but that is the beauty of democracy - allowing equitable representation of different interests and respecting our differences.

Democracy suffers the pitfalls of inefficiency, tension among different interest groups and apparent discord in society, but should these drawbacks nullify the benefits of democracy? My answer is no.

It is human instinct to avoid tension as it may threaten our sense of well-being. That is why as our society has been widely split on the political reform package since last September, a lot of people have chosen to "unfriend" their friends on Facebook.

In that regard, I agree with Parker Palmer, the writer of Healing the Heart of Democracy, that we need to foster the five "habits of the hearts" in society so that we can truly embrace the ideals of democracy.

First, we must understand that we are all in this together. We should affirm that most people in different camps desire a prosperous and stable Hong Kong. Real harmony cannot be achieved by finger-pointing, which unfortunately was led by our chief executive after the political reform bill was rejected.

Second, we must develop an appreciation of the value of "otherness". Instead of seeing people who hold different opinions as enemies, we should listen to understand and explore creative solutions to our differences.

Third, we must cultivate the ability to hold tension in life-giving ways. We are all limited by our specific life experiences and interests. Only by humble reflection can we generate new insights.

Fourth, we must generate a sense of personal voice and agency. Many of us believe that we should simply follow our political leaders in order to enjoy a quiet, successful life. However, we should remember that if all of us are quiet, we may end up living under the mercy of a tyrannical government.

Finally, we must strengthen our capacity to create community. We may not agree with the views of other groups, but we cannot deny their rights as fellow citizens. We can surely create our own communities to speak for our interests.

Only when our society has the hearts of democracy can we attain a truly caring society. Our leaders should stop pointing fingers and enter into real dialogue for Hong Kong to move forward.

Clive Chan, headmaster, E-Smart Learning Centre