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)

我拿什麽来奉献给你,我的小孩?

This is an article devoted to all the children of our world, especially those in Hong Kong.
仅以此文献给这世上所有的,尤其是香港的,小朋友们。

【本文为原文的简体版本。原版为繁体和英文对照,包含了文中引用来源的链接。原文参见:https://unitedminds.net/what-can-i-do-for-you-my-child/

[The original version in English and traditional Chinese can be found at:https://unitedminds.net/what-can-i-do-for-you-my-child/ ]

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

“做最真的自己“是许多青少年常常书写的话题。其实成年人并无不同,那种“适志”的感觉,那种身心一体,是所有人都喜悦的。只是吾今日在港偶遇的不悦,是种种名不副实的标籤。前几日读关于偏见与歧视的书籍,才发觉用虫名来称呼被边缘化的新移民,是欧美文化的糟粕,现今这文化似乎也传到了香港。我家乡的方言也是有个极其污秽的字眼来形容外地人的,但应该不是虫名。而且还好谁都不知道那个字该怎么写。

可我相信香港的多数人是友善的,从每个人的眼睛裡,我能看到那种善良平实的影子。有时越是那种纹身遍佈的古惑仔,越能从眼中流出一种脆弱,一种对被认同与被接受的渴望。这世界能有几个人不需要接纳,有几个人喜欢被别人贴上标签?我们每个人走的路是不同的,会有磕磕绊绊,会与他人偶擦撞。但因为过往或此刻与别人的不同而被人拒绝,那感受是一种内心深处的隐隐作痛。

我理解标签的由来,理解少数不安的人在媒体上肆意挥墨的心情。我的祖母生与殷实的商家,他们祖辈从商,自明朝起栖居山间数百年。但每每忆起她幼时的战乱,她总会讲那是「野蛮人」侵入的光景。这恨意自然指向真正的侵略者,但也包括了在战争中丧失理智的少数国人。战争邪化人心的那魔力,我是丝毫不会怀疑的。不过年迈的她并没有迁怨与当代的任何人。战争这件事不是谁想阻止就能阻止的,个人家族的起落,无非是民族跌宕起伏长河中的一粒水滴。有这大河有今日的澎湃,又何必去纠结过去的微观涡旋呢。

真抱歉,思绪因祖母的故事游离了。将今日香港社的各种焦虑烦躁同战争年代类比真是过于牵强了。不过我确实有认为自己入港是打搅别人了,打扰那些在我之前好久就居住在香港的人。所以我为人处事总是战战兢兢,如履薄冰。偶尔被标签刺痛,忍一忍也就算了,谁的生活是容易的呢?不过有一次为了解中学物理以帮助自己在大学裡的教学,我误入了书店。我翻看了一些课本,却猛地被一本通识课考试笔记擒住。我惊觉其实我自己再努力的小心翼翼也都是徒劳,因为在小孩子的课本裡我已经被描画为一个扰民滋事之人。如同其它的新移民一样,我不知除了一声叹息还能如何。这厄运的斗篷已被那教科书作者毫不留情的给我披上,想脱都脱不掉。

我当时有些许眩晕。因为脑子裡想起了那个关于Rapunzel的童话故事。一个头髮有让人长生不老魔力的婴孩被巫婆从小掳去,关在了一座尖塔之中。巫婆每日必教导Rapunzel外面的世界有多麽可怕,充满了魔鬼,尔千万不可离开这尖塔一步。如果您允许我将这故事同香港这一颗东方明珠相比,这故事的现代演绎真是让我眩晕之处。Rapunzel阴差阳错地没有离开尖塔,而且还在尖塔裡快乐地生儿育女。不可思议的是,Rapunzel也告诉自己的孩子,外边的世界好可怕,充满了魔鬼。

我这人口拙。以前友人告诉我英国人对这东方明珠功不可没,我听了心裡怪怪的,半天不知道该怎麽应答。我想了许久,才敢在这裡弱弱地问一句,买卖这事,只有买家能成吗?

十九世纪初是英国的极盛时期,那时统治英国的似乎不是国王或王后,而是商人和战神。1700到1850年英国参与了137次战争。我去读维基百科时仍然能觉到一种战胜国的骄傲。那骄傲情绪是让我很不安。我父亲的父母都生与商户人家,我母亲的父母就没有那麽幸运了。她没见过她的祖父母。她只知道在战乱年代,她的父亲和叔伯都有浴血沙场,当年的山西正是抗日战争的主战场。她从未听到过父亲讲任何关于胜利的骄傲。父亲告诉她的,只有那曾经面对横尸遍野时的恐惧。难道英国人真的如文学中所描写的,视战争为地图上的游戏?也许是距离让人心安吧,毕竟那137次战争,绝大多数都不在英国本土。

那个时代的另一个主角是商人。虽然维基百科描述的口吻并不承认,但那段历史中,英国受到的最大的打击,莫过于美国的独立。昔日奶与蜜的来源,在近十年的战争后变为了勇士之乡。所以十九世纪初转战东亚的英国商人大概没有什麽太複杂的目的吧。无非和今日每日碌碌的你我一样,为的是养家糊口。但买卖这件事——得有买也有卖。

清末生意场主要是三大商帮的舞台,潮商,徽商,还有晋商。我是个山西人,对晋商的历史还是略知一二的。晋商在清朝的鼎盛始于的中俄贸易,交易的货品包括茶叶、丝绸、皮草等等,后来的贸易伙伴自然也包括了西欧各国。如同今日的贸易一样,商人需要结识原产地的农家,安排产地至港口的运输,甚至参与海外的远行。于是乎有了晋商前两座丰碑——驼帮和船帮。晋商在多年经营之后,悟出了一个“新兴产业”——票号,也即今日的银行,于是造就了晋商后来的一代传奇。十九世纪末山西票号在全中国有四百多家分户,当然包括香港。1842年签订《南京条约》后,清政府的赔款是当时“日昇昌”银号独家处理的。1910年前的上海股市是票号历史上最后的盛筵,对资本的迷恋让从山西票号到汇丰银行的掌舵人都陷入种种幻梦,直到大多数人手裡的股票在股灾中化作一地鸡毛。

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。

我们都知道后期贸易中“阿芙蓉”变为主流,后来又有了各种战争和混乱。英国人选择佔领香港到底是为了维持生存还是利慾薰心,现时已无法去考证了,也许这二者都有,并还伴著其它複杂的原因。已经过去那麽久了,再去谴责谁也没什么意义了。所以关于这段历史我也就此缄默吧。

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。

不过我是个成年人,还不至于因为这被羞辱的感觉而眩晕。这些谬误最坏的结果,无非是让一些小孩子觉得北边广袤的大陆上充满了危险,不去就罢了。让我最后感到些许绝望的是关于身份认同的讨论。那应试笔记上告诉孩子们,“当一个人认同自己是群体的一员后,个人联系感会提升,亦有助于自尊的建立”。这话乍一看是没错的,但我这敏感的心智当时不由联想,如果我偏偏是个不合群的“坏”孩子呢?我就不是香港的社会的一员了吗?我就不可以有和别人同样自尊了吗?你告诉我北面的大陆充满危险,又告诉我必须认同所谓的港人“核心”价值观,我,我,⋯⋯我若是个坏孩子,不认同某一方价值观,岂不是只有移民欧美这一条路可以走了吗?要不然我连自尊都没有啊。但若我是个坏孩子,估计英文也学得好不到哪裡去⋯⋯

诸位,旧约裡有讲“每个人都有神的形象,每个人在神面前都是平等的”。这世界还有什麽比孩子的心灵更无暇的呢?各种家规国法当然该教予孩子,但他/她内心的那个自我,需要的除了尊重和爱,还需要什麽呢?是谎言与偏见吗?写教科书的人也许觉得自己是在写真理。可国父临死的时候明明有讲,其终身目的在于“求中国之自由平等”,“废除不平等条约”一事“尤须于最短期间,促其实现”。1997是不是国父的心愿吗?今日吾等的相互谩骂,让国父在天国看了,又作何感想呢?

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。

香港一百多年以前就已经是中西商人沟通的枢纽。我认同英伦人士(准确地将应该叫“欧裔香港人”)对香港这颗明珠在财富和文明上的贡献,但早期三大商帮的贡献就真的不值一提吗?若我转移焦点到二战结束后的这些和平年代,买卖终归是买卖。奇怪的是今天人们谈论这买卖双方时,似乎仍在使用一种远古的语言,许多用词暗含傲气与鄙夷。这言语应该是今后许多年必然会被忘记的,我不知道这未来要等多久,但我无法相信人们会选择一直视异己为猛兽。如果对方是,你又何尝不是别人的异己,又何尝不是猛兽呢?所以绕来绕去,我只能说,我们在内心深处是一样的。理解别人并非一件容易的事,不然圣经上不会将英文的理解(understanding)与中文的聪明和智慧二词相对应。相信人会越变越聪明,尤其是我们的孩子们,这应该还是没错的。

我理解人们对于平静的热爱,也能体会少数热情高涨的青年那“捍卫家乡”的衝动。但我们此刻能否让我们的孩子来记住这段历史的真相,而不是永远地生活在一个又一个谎言中,一次又一次的仇恨中。自由和民主从来就不可能从谎言和偏见中生出。我想我的先祖并没有忘记你的,你的先祖也并没有忘记我的。只是历史的河流太湍急又太漫长,所以我们至此才能相遇。但这相遇也是命运的恩赐,也全都该好好珍惜。回看那段历史并非易事,但让一个孩子学会面对,远比让我们成年人自己面对要容易。何不让孩子们自此学会坚强。

后记:还望有识之士能够推动香港教科书修订工作,鄙人建议从统一全港教科书开始。不论您的孩子属于哪个族裔,让歧视和盲目仇恨充满孩子的内心总会是一件让父母揪心的事情。一些迷失与社运的青年一定程度上是被谎言蒙蔽了双眼。愿我们共同鼓起勇气,抛开偏见与不同,用爱为孩子们创造一个更美好的世界。香港若想变得更加国际化,其文化必然是多元的。海纳百川,有容乃大。最后奉劝诸位切勿将教科书修改变做个人攻击。吾不希望本文殃及任何教育工作者。人无完人,金无足赤。

多谢!

之明
William

June 29, 2019

Hong Kong

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

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