It’s the season of goodwill. But I will try not to bore you by wishing peace and harmony for Hong Kong. Instead, let’s try to call out what psychologists term “cognitive dissonance” with both the yellow and blue camps. Both sides have suffered seriously from it to the extent that their most hard-core advocates live in parallel fantasy worlds. If both sides can try to recognise facts as they are rather than manufacturing them, there may still be a chance for a viable settlement. Financial historian Charles Kindleberger defines the psychological phenomenon as people’s “capacity to filter, massage, manipulate or otherwise process information to make it accord with strongly held internalised beliefs”. “People with the same information may hold different beliefs and draw different conclusions; they may reject or discount evidence that supports contrary beliefs.” We all suffer from it. But let’s try to establish some basics so maybe people from both sides can move forward. Both protesters and police have committed acts of violence that amount to crimes. But both groups are also victims of society and government. They may be the most visible antagonists but are also pawns, playthings of much greater forces out of their control. Protesters are not “cockroaches” and police are not “dogs”. They are both our people and deserve our compassion and understanding, not derision and hate. Protesters have every right to demand universal suffrage, as it is the ultimate goal of “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. After Christmas chaos, Hong Kong protesters plan major New Year’s Day rally However, those who advocate a national security law are also perfectly justified, as it is equally required under the Basic Law as a constitutional duty of Hong Kong. Foreign governments, news groups and NGOs have a legitimate interest in Hong Kong and its people. But this is not a carte blanche; there are limits to the propriety of their concerns. Both the yellows and blues have made up fake news about each other. Police have been accused of being murderers, torturers and rapists. Protesters have been described as terrorists and drug addicts; and schoolgirls have allegedly been supplied as “comfort women” to protest warriors. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. We all want to believe the worst about the other side. Let’s always examine the evidence or lack thereof first, before committing. If we ever have a fighting chance at reconciliation, we all need to be more truthful about each other.