Freedom like the Wind

This is an essay dedicated to college students in Hong Kong, especially those who would not agree with me now. I wish you can understand, sooner or later.

The song I love most is one called “Blue Lotus”. It begins with a magical melody and the lyrics “There is nothing in the world, to stop your dream of freedom”. Indeed, “freedom” is a word that makes everyone feel differently, yearn for, and quest for in his/her entire life. You may want to say “this guy is funny”, because you may be thinking this question, “isn’t freedom something everyone was born with, at least for most people in the world?” I wish you are not too angry when I tell you, my answer is actually “no”.

The freedom I want to discuss does not mean the same thing to you and to me, at least not entirely.

Everyone needs to express himself/herself at times when they are happy, or unhappy. When you feel the coldness of the world and get nobody’s attention, a feeling of desperation probably would be triggered in your mind. When your heart is filled with sorrow and it luckily meets the warmth from another mind, we all know how special that moment can be. However, if we cannot find the warmth we need for a very long time, we may get frustrated, and lost. Crash of emotions occurs between us and others, such as our parents, partners, children, friends, and of course, strangers.

Occasionally, the expense of these crashes is unexpectedly high. I came across a simple but very touch movie recently. It is called The Mustang, which tells the story of an inmate learning how to get along with a horse and to a deeper level, with himself. The most memorable moment in the film to me was when a psychologist asks a group of prisoners how long it takes them to make the wrong decision and action that lead them into cells. To my surprise, the unit used by the inmates is seconds. One guy said it took 22 seconds for him, another said 2 seconds. There were some other answers, and the answer from Roman, the protagonist, was split second. The price he was paying for that split second was 12 years. What made him feel worst probably was not the loss of superficial-level freedom, but the loss of SELF. He made his wife paralyzed, and left her to his beloved daughter, who was still a child then. He was lost.

You may be a little confused now. How can one lose his/her “self”? People are not born with a “self”. Children develop the awareness of self around two when they start to learn how to say “no”. Then when they become teenagers, they say no more meaningfully, they model pop stars, instead of their parents, in the ways they say and do things. Then when they grow into adulthood, role models dive into the subconscious level. However, there are always differences between who I was, who I am, and whom I want to be, the ALL THREE of which are what I call SELF.

When we do not have a SELF, we do not have the true freedom, because you cannot be what you want to be without accepting who you were in the past and who you are now. You cannot make a tree grow taller by cutting it in the middle. The three components of SELF need to be consistent, or at least compatible, with each other. How to make that happen is easy for some of us, but difficult for others.

So, why am I talking about all this when the discussion is about freedom. Because today, I see many people not seeing the difference between true and false freedoms. I grew up in China, which is infamously a place where people do not have the “freedom of speech”, where human right is not respected. I thought it is true. Untile I spent many years in the US, which is a place famously where people have the freedom. I found they allow people to call their president and his family “chimpanzees”, they allow armless African American to be killed without letting the murderer pay a penny, they isolate minorities by segregation, they “encourage” black youth to commit robbery crimes by allowing a popstar to say that is cool in his song … Those are freedom, which even let their presidential election interfered by foreign nations. Oh, yes …, freedom of speech, foreign nations have that too.

I am somewhat mean when I was saying all those. Some people in the US may argue with me that the following was what was said in the Declaration of Independence,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

My friends, you are exactly right, but do you remember what was said after this one. It is the following,

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …”

So the exact purpose of Governments is to constrain some people at some time. When citizens cannot tell fake news from the truth, isn’t the government’s responsibility to eliminate them? When a popstar is teaching my son how to rob others “safely”, isn’t the government’s role to regulate? When a person is abused in social media, isn’t it a government’s duty to protect?

I am not saying the Chinese government was always right. I just want to say it is not so different from other western-style governments in protecting people’s freedom. I do not really care if I have the freedom to defame Trump, I care if I can have HAPPINESS. I want to be a good father, a good husband, a good professional contributing to the world. And to do all of that, I want to live in a SECURE society, so that my happiness won’t be disregarded because other people’s “liberty”. I do not want to be abused on social media, so I am not going to do that towards others either. And I do not wish others are allowed to do that by a government.

Freedom of speech is just a lollipop. I am not a kid. I want to pursue the true freedom, don’t you?

What can I do for you, my child? (简体)


This is an article devoted to all the children of our world, especially those in Hong Kong.


[The original version in English and traditional Chinese can be found at: ]

A mom and a child on bike
A long road dedicated to the future










此处谝言晋商那段历史让君见笑了。不过,中英那些年间的关係也许并非偶然,商人与商人之间应该是有许多可以跨越语言的默契的。不论是哪个商帮,不管来自哪个国家,商业合作只是交流的开始。有了贸易的纽带,文化意义上的交流才会接踵而至。晋南地区在十九世纪出现了许多传教士的身影。讲传教士中混杂了少数别有用心的人是个不争的事实,我也知道因著战争的缘故,多数国人对于基督教没无好感。但如果你愿意相信我,我会告诉你,教会裡面人们以弟兄姊妹相称彼此时,是秉著一份难得的谦卑和真诚的爱的。十九世纪末在中国内地工作的传教士处境是十分危险的,有时被人屠杀并无它因,只因为外表的面貌与汉人不同,让人看了生怯。但还是有很多人选择留下了。如果君有幸参读Hudson Taylor编辑的《Days of Blessing in Inland China》,你会看到那些带著小孩在混乱和狂热的包围下还愿留在中原的所谓洋人,其内心有著与你我一样的善良和诚恳。1878年中原大旱时,很多英国的基督徒是慷慨相助的。


可香港教科书上的一些问题我实在是没有办法选择沉默的。因为那谬误是在扭曲孩子们的心灵。中国内地,美国,和香港的基尼係数分别是0.47, 0.48,和0.54 (CIA Gini), 可我那日翻阅的中学通识课应试笔记上,赫然写著“[中国]面对国家动乱的风险”。面对这与数据相悖的结论,我很想讲点什麽,但又感觉讲什麽都很无力。又如中国的“文化大革命”明明是人类历史上的一场浩劫,那本书裡竟然讲当年“人民”是“投身于”那场政治运动的。君若曾看过一两部关于文革的电影,一定能明白我为何讲那是一场悲剧,人性在那种疯狂中的被扭曲不亚于战争对人性的吞噬。我的祖母当年是被批斗的,我大学时最喜欢的老师在文革时也是被批斗的,当年的国家主席同样也是被批斗至死的。我不知所谓的“投身”是在指谁投身,如何投身。我想起码我认识的多数人都是受害者,而非凶手。把我受害的祖母同冲动的红卫兵相提并论,我内心充满的只有一种被羞辱的感觉。



我知道红磡一带是有一条山西街的,旁边还有浙江街、江西街。这些街名的拼法都是与现代翻译极为不同的。比如山西的英文拼法是Shansi。去网路上搜索,有这个词的文献多都是关于清末票号(Shansi Banks)的。那天站在山西街上,我有一种同太祖一代隔空相遇的感觉。我眼前浮现出票号裡繁忙时通宵达旦的场景;我似乎看见他们为著旗袍长衫的新人举办婚礼;我好似看到他们夜裡挑灯,写著一封又一封的家书,给远在北方的亲人。






June 29, 2019

Hong Kong

Email: william ‘at’ unitedminds ‘dot’ net. 


©2019 by William@UnitedMinds. Article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY-ND) license. http: //