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. 

CC-BY-ND

©2019 by William@UnitedMinds. Article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY-ND) license. http: // creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

What can I do for you, my child?

我拿什麼來奉獻給你,我的小孩?

This is an article devoted to all the children of our world, especially those in Hong Kong. 
僅以此文獻給這世上所有的,尤其是香港的,小朋友們。

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

 

        “做最真的自己“是許多青少年常常書寫的話題。其實成年人并無不同,那種“適志”的感覺,那種身心一體,是所有人都喜悅的。只是吾今日在港偶遇的不悅,是種種名不副實的標籤。前幾日讀關於偏見與歧視的書籍,才發覺用蟲名來稱呼被边缘化的新移民,是歐美文化的糟粕,現今這文化似乎也傳到了香港。我家鄉的方言也是有個極其污穢的字眼來形容外地人的,但應該不是蟲名。而且還好誰都不知道那個字該怎麼寫。

       “I just want to be myself”. This is probably what people often say when they were teenagers, but as adults, though we don’t say it, we know we need that feeling too, the feeling of self-esteem. Yet the sad thing in Hong Kong today is that I am not seen as myself by some.  A small group of people just like to put all kinds of labels on me, including the name of a vermin. I thought likening marginalized immigrant groups to insects is just a natural product of human emotion until recently I learned from a book, this is a heritage of European culture. In my mother tongue, there is one nasty word towards new immigrants too, luckily, no one really knows how to write it. 

       可我相信香港的多數人是友善的,從每個人的眼睛裡,我能看到那種善良平實的影子。有時越是那種紋身遍佈的古惑仔,越能從眼中流出一種脆弱,一種對被認同與被接受的渴望。這世界能有幾個人不需要接納,有幾個人喜歡被別人貼上標籤?我們每個人走的路是不同的,會有磕磕絆絆,會與他人偶擦撞。但因為過往或此刻與別人的不同而被人拒絕,那感受是一種內心深處的隱隱作痛。

       There is no doubt most people in Hong Kong are kind and friendly. You can see their kindness in their eyes. Occasionally you may meet a person covered with many scary tattoos, even in that guy or lady, I can see a soft heart. Who does not want to be recognized and accepted? Who likes being put a tag on his/her chest every day? Our lives take different paths; we stumble here and there, with friction between each other. We do not want to be refused by society simply because we are different in the past or at this moment. That isolation can cause deep cut deep inside our hearts. It is not very painful, but it lasts.

       我理解標籤的由來,理解少數不安的人在媒體上肆意揮墨的心情。我的祖母生與殷實的商家,他們祖輩從商,自明朝起棲居山間数百年。但每每憶起她幼時的戰亂,她總會講那是「野蠻人」侵入的光景。這恨意自然指向真正的侵略者,但也包括了在戰爭中喪失理智的少數國人。戰爭邪化人心的那魔力,我是絲毫不會懷疑的。不過年邁的她並沒有遷怨與當代的任何人。戰爭這件事不是誰想阻止就能阻止的,個人家族的起落,無非是民族跌宕起伏长河中的一粒水滴。有這大河有今日的澎湃,又何必去糾結過去的微觀渦旋呢。

       I understand the passion of the small group of writers who comment a lot about new immigrants. When my grandma was talking about her childhood in the early 1900s, she called it a period of invasion by “barbarians”. I know what she means. She grew up in a cross-dynasty business family. She was referring to Japanese soldiers during WWII, and probably some Chinese soldiers, who lost their minds under the spell of Ares. I have no doubt wars can destroy beauty. I know this for sure from the “legendary” story of Ares, and human history.  Anyway, my grandma did not keep and transfer that bitter hatred towards anyone today. Not many can capture Ares. The ups and downs of her family are just a single frame in a long movie. She only wanted to remember the storyline, and know her children and grandchildren are in a peaceful time now. Why would she bother to recall Ares’ masculinity, which was the nightmare of many?

       真抱歉,思绪因祖母的故事游离了。將今日香港社的各種焦慮煩躁同戰爭年代類比真是过于牵强了。不過我確實有認為自己入港是打攪別人了,打擾那些在我之前好久就居住在香港的人。所以我為人處事總是戰戰兢兢,如履薄冰。偶爾被標籤刺痛,忍一忍也就算了,誰的生活是容易的呢?不過有一次為了解中學物理以幫助自己在大學裡的教學,我誤入了書店。我翻看了一些課本,卻猛地被一本通識課考試筆記擒住。我驚覺其實我自己再努力的小心翼翼也都是徒勞,因為在小孩子的課本裡我已經被描畫為一個擾民滋事之人。如同其它的新移民一樣,我不知除了一聲嘆息還能如何。這厄運的斗篷已被那教科書作者毫不留情的給我披上,想脱都脫不掉。

      Sorry, friends. My mind strayed away because of grandma’s story. The unsettled atmosphere in Hong Kong today is definitely not comparable to anything in a war. Yet because of grandma’s story, I accepted the idea that I am an intruder, who disturbed the peaceful life of people who have been here long before me. I accepted occasional stings because I thought he or she probably just had a bad day. They were just not happy. I try to be considerate in every word and act, as careful as a baby learning skating. Until one day, I stumbled into a bookshop and learned something new. I was trying to look at high-school physics to understand how to teach my college class, yet I ended up feeling jarred by their culture and history textbook. I realized no matter how hard I try not to be an intruder, their textbooks just tell them I am one intruder, so are many other new immigrants. Ah … I guess I am doomed, by someone, who ruthlessly put a black hat on me and did not give a chance to say anything.

       我當時有些許眩暈。因為腦子裡想起了那個關於Rapunzel的童話故事。一個頭髮有讓人長生不老魔力的嬰孩被巫婆從小擄去,關在了一座尖塔之中。巫婆每日必教導Rapunzel外面的世界有多麼可怕,充滿了魔鬼,尔千萬不可離開這尖塔一步。如果您允許我將這故事同香港這一顆東方明珠相比,這故事的現代演繹真是讓我眩暈之處。Rapunzel陰差陽錯地沒有離開尖塔,而且還在尖塔裡快樂地生兒育女。不可思議的是,Rapunzel也告訴自己的孩子,外邊的世界好可怕,充滿了魔鬼。

       I was standing there, but my mind was overwhelmed by feelings of scare, confusion, and maybe anger as well. I recalled the story about Rapunzel, who had the magical power to give people eternal youth. She was taken away from the King and Queen by a witch, who raised up Rapunzel and kept telling her every day, “do not leave this tower, because the world outside belongs to monsters“. I was not able to help but connect that story with Hong Kong’s history and today. The sad and shocking conclusion is that “Rapunzel” has grown up and become an adult, who had her own kids now, and she is repeating the story to her children, “the world outside belongs to monsters“. I was stunned by my thoughts because following this storyline, I am one of the “monsters”.

       我這人口拙。以前友人告訴我英國人對這東方明珠功不可沒,我聽了心裡怪怪的,半天不知道該怎麼應答。我想了許久,才敢在這裡弱弱地問一句,買賣這事,只有買家能成嗎?

      My mouth and my tongue are often sluggish. Once a friend told me that the British had a lot of good deeds in the development of Hong Kong. I did not know how to respond, and I fell silent. After thinking about those words for a long time, I want to ask here, in a gentle and kind voice, didn’t they come to Hong Kong just for trading? And is there a trade that can work out without local partners? Aren’t we forgetting someone or something?

       十九世紀初是英國的極盛時期,那時統治英國的似乎不是國王或王后,而是商人和戰神。1700到1850年英國參與了137次戰爭。我去讀維基百科時仍然能覺到一種戰勝國的驕傲。那驕傲情緒是讓我很不安。我父親的父母都生與商戶人家,我母親的父母就沒有那麼幸運了。她沒見過她的祖父母。她只知道在戰亂年代,她的父親和叔伯都有浴血沙場,當年的山西正是抗日戰爭的主戰場。她從未聽到過父親講任何關於勝利的驕傲。父親告訴她的,只有那曾經面對橫屍遍野時的恐懼。難道英國人真的如文學中所描寫的,視戰爭為地圖上的遊戲?也許是距離讓人心安吧,畢竟那137次戰爭,絕大多數都不在英國本土。

       The early 1900s was a culminating period in the history of the United Kingdom (or used-to-be Great Britan), but that was a time when the Kindom was not ruled by a King or Queen. It was probably co-ruled by merchants and Ares. There were 173 wars and rebellion/resistance between 1700 and 1850. I can still feel the pride of a winner when I read the text about that part of the history on Wikipedia. That emotion of pride makes me feel nervous. My father’s parents were both born in merchant families, but my mother’s parents were not that lucky. My mother had never seen her grandparents. She only knows that during WWII, her father and uncles fought numerous bloody wars. Shanxi was the main battlefield in WWII. She has never felt any pride when her father talked about wars. Instead, she only felt his fear. More than once, her father wanted to run away simply because fo seeing too many corpses.  In a British drama, I heard that in the eyes of some gentlemen, war is just a game on a map. Maybe this is why the tone on Wikipedia is different than what I expected. After all, most of those wars were not on the mainland of the UK.

       那個時代的另一個主角是商人。雖然維基百科描述的口吻並不承認,但那段歷史中,英國受到的最大的打擊,莫過於美國的獨立。昔日奶與蜜的來源,在近十年的戰爭後變為了勇士之鄉。所以十九世紀初轉戰東亞的英國商人大概沒有什麼太複雜的目的吧。無非和今日每日碌碌的你我一樣,為的是養家糊口。但買賣這件事——得有買也有賣。

       Besides Ares, the other leading role was merchants. Though the tone on Wikipedia denies it, losing the North America continent was a hard punch to the UK. The American Revolutionary War turned the once source of honey and curds for the UK to the home for the brave. I guess most of the British businessmen arriving at Hong Kong at the early 1900s probably did not have too complicated purposes. They just wanted to earn some money and make a living, just like what every one of us is doing today for our families. Despite everything, a trade still is a trade, which needs both sides.

       清末生意場主要是三大商幫的舞台,潮商,徽商,還有晉商。我是個山西人,對晉商的歷史還是略知一二的。晉商在清朝的鼎盛始於的中俄貿易,交易的货品包括茶葉、丝绸、皮草等等,後來的貿易伙伴自然也包括了西歐各國。如同今日的貿易一樣,商人需要結識原產地的農家,安排產地至港口的運輸,甚至參與海外的遠行。於是乎有了晉商前兩座豐碑——駝幫和船幫。晉商在多年經營之後,悟出了一個“新興產業”——票號,也即今日的銀行,於是造就了晉商後來的一代傳奇。十九世紀末山西票號在全中國有四百多家分戶,當然包括香港。1842年簽訂《南京條約》後,清政府的賠款是當時“日昇昌”銀號獨家處理的。1910年前的上海股市是票號歷史上最後的盛筵,對資本的迷戀讓從山西票號到匯豐銀行的掌舵人都陷入種種幻夢,直到大多數人手裡的股票在股災中化作一地雞毛。

       Commerce activities in the late Qing Dynasty were dominated by three different networks originating from three different regions of China, which are around Shanxi, Anhui, and Chaoshan. These networks were built based on personal connections, so merchants and businessmen in these three groups can mostly trace their lineage to those three regions. I happen to be born in Shanxi and know some legendaries of the Shanxi business network.

       The first peak of Shanxi merchants’ activities emerged in the trades between China and Russia, for the exchange of tea, silk, furs, etc. Businessmen from Western European countries naturally became their partners too later. Just like most of today’s trades, businessmen at that time need to connect the entire chain of commerce, including the source of produce, shipment crew, and the destiny market. So naturally Shanxi merchants laid their first two milestones — Camel Union and Ship Union. After many years of operation, by chance or not, the Shanxi business network established the most powerful banking system in the Qing dynasty. They were called “Shansi banks” in history and were the last legendary of the Shanxi business network (since modern China does not encourage this kind of family-origin-based business network anymore. Personally, I think it is a right choice for the public good). The indemnity for the Treaty of Nanjing in 1942 was processed through a Shansi bank Rishengchang, who connected the money flow from different provinces to the ultimate recipient, the United Kingdom. Before the Shanghai Rubber Stock Market Crisis in 1910, Shansi banks reach their final peak, most of them, as well as some western banks like HSBC, were dreaming in an excessively extravagant party of investment, until eventually the stock in most people’s hands became a piece of plain paper, which cannot be more useless at all.

       此處諞言晉商那段歷史讓君見笑了。不過,中英那些年間的關係也許並非偶然,商人與商人之間應該是有許多可以跨越語言的默契的。不論是哪個商幫,不管來自哪個國家,商業合作只是交流的開始。有了貿易的紐帶,文化意義上的交流才會接踵而至。晉南地區在十九世紀出現了許多傳教士的身影。講傳教士中混雜了少數別有用心的人是個不爭的事實,我也知道因著戰爭的緣故,多數國人對於基督教沒無好感。但如果你願意相信我,我會告訴你,教會裡面人們以弟兄姊妹相稱彼此時,是秉著一份難得的謙卑和真誠的愛的。十九世紀末在中國內地工作的傳教士處境是十分危險的,有時被人屠殺並無它因,只因為外表的面貌與漢人不同,讓人看了生怯。但還是有很多人選擇留下了。如果君有幸參讀Hudson Taylor編輯的《Days of Blessing in Inland China》,你會看到那些帶著小孩在混亂和狂熱的包圍下還願留在中原的所謂洋人,其內心有著與你我一樣的善良和誠懇。1878年中原大旱時,很多英國的基督徒是慷慨相助的。

      Ah … I guess I got lost again in thinking about my ancestors, so embarrassing. The collaboration between Chinese and British business elites was probably not a coincidence, because merchants have a way to resonate between each other without language.  Commerce was about trading mostly, but people were connected in those activities. And a deeper-level connection started to be built after this ice-breaker “reception”.  In the latter half of the 19th century, many people who were born on the island of Great Britain traveled to Shanxi province and other places in China. They did not stay long in Hong Kong or Shanghai, because they wanted to share something different with Chinese people. At that time, Shanxi and many other inland places were dangerous for foreigners. One can be killed simply because he or she does not have an Asian face. Despite that, they were determined to go there, and some of them even brought their children with them. They were doing all of that for one reason — because they trusted God. They wanted to share God’s love with someone they have never known before. They wanted to let those strangers learn about the Holy Spirit in them, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, … I guess many of them enjoyed their travel in China. Because some fruits of the Holy Spirit had been valued by Chinese people for thousands of years from the heritage of Confucius. We look different at the superficial level, but deep in our hearts, we share a lot in common.

       我們都知道後期貿易中“阿芙蓉”變為主流,後來又有了各種戰爭和混亂。英國人選擇佔領香港到底是為了維持生存還是利慾薰心,現時已無法去考證了,也許這二者都有,并還伴著其它複雜的原因。已經過去那麼久了,再去譴責誰也沒什么意義了。所以關於這段歷史我也就此緘默吧。

        We know the trade between China and the UK became dominated by Opium in the later stage. All kinds of disputes occurred because of conflicts in economic interests or misunderstanding of cultural values. The entire world became a mess in WWII. I cannot find out the exact cause of the Opium Wars, which led to a change in the ownership of the land in Hong Kong. Allow me to fall silent here, since criticizing anyone in that war is meanless now, after such a long time.

       可香港教科書上的一些問題我实在是没有办法選擇沈默的。因為那謬誤是在扭曲孩子們的心靈。中國內地,美國,和香港的基尼係數分別是0.47, 0.48,和0.54 (CIA Gini), 可我那日翻閱的中學通識課應試筆記上,赫然寫著“[中國]面對國家動亂的風險”。面對這與數據相悖的結論,我很想講點什麼,但又感覺講什麼都很無力。又如中國的“文化大革命”明明是人類歷史上的一場浩劫,那本書裡竟然講當年“人民”是“投身於”那場政治運動的。君若曾看過一兩部關於文革的電影,一定能明白我為何講那是一場悲劇,人性在那種瘋狂中的被扭曲不亞於戰爭對人性的吞噬。我的祖母當年是被批鬥的,我大學時最喜歡的老師在文革時也是被批鬥的,當年的國家主席同樣也是被批鬥至死的。我不知所謂的“投身”是在指誰投身,如何投身。我想起碼我認識的多數人都是受害者,而非兇手。把我受害的祖母同衝動的紅衛兵相提並論,我內心充滿的只有一種被羞辱的感覺。

      Yet I have to force myself to voice my opinion for the errors in today’s textbooks, which shape the mind of every child in Hong Kong in a distorting way. The Gini coefficient for the mainland of China, USA, and Hong Kong are 0.47, 0.48, and 0.54, respectively (CIA Gini), but the conclusion goes with those numbers in the book, one to help kids memorized “standard” answers in exams, was that “(China) is facing a high risk of societal chaos”. I don’t know how I may re-program my logic to support that conclusion with those numbers. Another thing that jarred me was the phrases used to describe the “Cultural Revolution”. Those authors stated that “people (in China) devoted themselves to the Cultural Revolution”. If you ever watch one movie about it, you know what kind of disaster that was in human history; the cruelty of it is not less than a war and the power Ares was seen again in that chaotic period. My grandma was bullied in those years, my favorite professor in college was too, and the president of China at that time was lynched. I can hardly grasp the reason why those authors used the word “devoting” (in Chinese) in their description, are they mocking my grandma and everyone else in China?

       不過我是個成年人,還不至於因為這被羞辱的感覺而眩暈。這些謬誤最壞的結果,無非是讓一些小孩子覺得北邊廣袤的大陸上充滿了危險,不去就罷了。讓我最後感到些許絕望的是關於身份認同的討論。那應試筆記上告訴孩子們,“當一個人認同自己是群體的一員後,個人聯繫感會提升,亦有助於自尊的建立”。這話乍一看是沒錯的,但我這敏感的心智當時不由聯想,如果我偏偏是個不合群的“壞”孩子呢?我就不是香港的社會的一員了嗎?我就不可以有和別人同樣自尊了嗎?你告訴我北面的大陸充滿危險,又告訴我必須認同所謂的港人“核心”價值觀,我,我,⋯⋯我若是個壞孩子,不認同某一方價值觀,豈不是只有移民歐美這一條路可以走了嗎?要不然我連自尊都沒有啊。但若我是個壞孩子,估計英文也學得好不到哪裡去⋯⋯

       I am an adult, who is mature enough to stand that kind of mocking. Those errors did not stun me. The worst results are that some naive kids would accept this illusion that the vast continent to the north is full of terror, and they would avoid traveling northward as much as they can. What led my despair was the part about “sense of identity”. In an English textbook, I found the statement that “… when individuals look for common characteristics shared by themselves and the group, a sense of identity [recognition] towards that group will be developed and they will view themselves as part of the group“. The problem is that … in Hong Kong, which group should I attach myself? Can I choose not to attach to any group but meanwhile, also call myself a Hong-Konger? How is the group “Hong Konger” [Hong Kong People] defined? In the Chinese context, I usually call myself a Shanxi-er since that is where I was born and grew up, but in (US) English context, I think everyone can call themselves a New Yorker as long as they live in the New York City. I thought the glory of Hong Kong implies that I can be a Hong Konger too, yet the information I grasped from the textbook is that … I have to kill my identity of being a Shanxi-er, or even being a Chinese in order to become a Hong Konger.  I imagine when my kids go to school … will they be forced to pretend to be a Hong Konger (in the Chinese sense) so that they can play with other kids intimately … or will they be forced to say “I am an expat” so they can pretend they don’t care? I know how it feels when one does not have a sense of belonging. And that probably means more loneliness for little souls than adults’. 

       諸位,舊約裡有講“每个人都有神的形象,每个人在神面前都是平等的”。這世界還有什麼比孩子的心靈更無暇的呢?各種家規國法當然該教予孩子,但他/她內心的那個自我,需要的除了尊重和愛,還需要什麼呢?是謊言與偏見嗎?寫教科書的人也許覺得自己是在寫真理。可國父臨死的時候明明有講,其終身目的在於“求中國之自由平等”,“廢除不平等條約”一事“尤须于最短期间,促其实现”。1997是不是國父的心願嗎?今日吾等的相互謾罵,讓國父在天國看了,又作何感想呢?

      The Genesis told us “every one of us has the image of God in ourselves”. I always think the image is intact in the mind of little kids, so while some family and school educations are necessary, why wouldn’t we try to let them be themselves? I mean, why don’t we give nothing else but love and respect, to the SELF of every child? They can define themselves in good or bad ways, depending on whether we feed them truth or lies. The textbook authors may think they were writing about the truth. Yet I remember, in his last words, the founding father of modern China, Sun Yat-sen, told us his last forty years was devoted the cause of “pursuing the freedom and equality of China”. He suggested “abolishing unequal treaties” should be done as soon as possible. So was 1997 a year to make one of his wishes to become true? If he can see us from Heaven, how would the verbal abuse among us make him feel? 

       我知道紅磡一帶是有一條山西街的,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。去網路上搜索,有這個詞的文獻多都是關於清末票號(Shansi Banks)的。那天站在山西街上,我有一種同太祖一代隔空相遇的感覺。我眼前浮現出票號裡繁忙時通宵達旦的場景;我似乎看見他們為著旗袍長衫的新人舉辦婚禮;我好似看到他們夜裡挑燈,寫著一封又一封的家書,給遠在北方的親人。

      Not long ago I learned in Hung Hom there is a “Shansi Street”, which is neighboring Kiang Hsi Street, and Chi Kiang Street. The spelling of those names is totally different from their modern translations (Shanxi, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang). If you Google “Shansi”, you can find some accounts of the early “Shansi Banks”. Thus, when I was standing on the Shansi Street the other day, I had a telepathy-like feeling. I saw the generation of my great-grandparent working in Hung Hom. They stayed late when new transactions needed to be processed; they celebrated the marriage for a young couple in traditional ways; they wrote letters to their families who stayed in the North and were waiting for them.   

       香港一百多年以前就已經是中西商人溝通的樞紐。我认同英倫人士(準確地將應該叫“歐裔香港人”)对香港這顆明珠在财富和文明上的贡献,但早期三大商幫的貢獻就真的不值一提嗎?若我轉移焦點到二戰結束後的這些和平年代,買賣終歸是買賣。奇怪的是今天人們談論這買賣雙方時,似乎仍在使用一種遠古的語言,許多用詞暗含傲氣與鄙夷。這言語應該是今後許多年必然會被忘記的,我不知道這未來要等多久,但我无法相信人們會選擇一直視異己為猛獸。如果對方是,你又何嘗不是別人的異己,又何嘗不是猛獸呢?所以繞來繞去,我只能說,我們在內心深處是一樣的。理解別人並非一件容易的事,不然聖經上不會將英文的理解(understanding)與中文的聰明和智慧二詞相對應。相信人會越變越聰明,尤其是我们的孩子们,这應該還是沒錯的。

      Hong Kong has been the “Eastern Wall Street” for more than one hundred years. I agree that the Westerners (I personally think the more accurate term should be “European Hong Kongers”) contributed tremendously to Hong Kong’s development, but didn’t the early Chinese business elites in the three big networks contribute more? If I move my lens to the peaceful era after WWII, a trade is, after all, a trade, which is contributed from both sides. It is really odd that we are still using some language which explicitly or implicitly asserts the ownership of Hong Kong and the superiority and inferiority of different groups in different situations. I doubt the same set of words were used in the time before WWII, and I do not think they will keep appearing in our books and media for a very long time. I don’t know how soon this process of language evolution may take, but I cannot believe human will judge each other based on superficial level characters, birth origin, skin color, language, etc. If I see anyone who differs from me as an evil person, won’t I be labeled the same way? Thus my logic forces me to reach one conclusion, the differences between us, especially those superficial-level ones, cannot tell us much about one person. We need to learn about others by listening to them wholeheartedly. I do not know about Hebrew or Greek, but I know the English word “understanding” in the bible was translated into Chinese words “smart” and “wisdom” in many places. I believe our children will become smarter than us and human beings as a whole will be wiser in generations. 

       我理解人們對於平靜的熱愛,也能體會少數熱情高漲的青年那“捍衛家鄉”的衝動。但我們此刻能否讓我們的孩子來記住這段历史的真相,而不是永远地生活在一個又一個謊言中,一次又一次的仇恨中。自由和民主從來就不可能從謊言和偏見中生出。我想我的先祖並沒有忘記你的,你的先祖也並沒有忘記我的。只是歷史的河流太湍急又太漫長,所以我們至此才能相遇。但這相遇也是命運的恩賜,也全都該好好珍惜。回看那段歷史並非易事,但讓一個孩子學會面對,遠比讓我們成年人自己面對要容易。何不讓孩子們自此學會堅強。

       I totally understand people’s love for peace, as well as the passion of some young activists to protect the peace of their homeland. But can we all calm down and hold our fear due to a witch’s lies or ignorance or whatever, and listen to each other, wholeheartedly? Let our children look at the world as it was, it is, and the future it can be. They deserve to live in a world with less fear, especially the unnecessary fear due to hatred triggered by all kinds of lies, from which freedom and equality can never arise. I think my great-grandfather did not abandon yours, and yours did not forget mine. It is just that this documentary film of history is such a long story, the Screenwriter did not let us meet each other until now. Yet we should appreciate this encounter wholeheartedly because it has long been dreamed by some. It is not something easy to reflect upon the history, but letting a child be resilient is much easier than letting an adult be the same. Why don’t let our kids start the learning now?

 

後記:還望有識之士能夠推動香港教科書修訂工作,鄙人建議從統一全港教科書開始。不論您的孩子屬於哪個族裔,讓歧視和盲目仇恨充滿孩子的內心總會是一件讓父母揪心的事情。一些迷失與社運的青年一定程度上是被謊言蒙蔽了雙眼。願我們共同鼓起勇氣,拋開偏見與不同,用愛為孩子們創造一個更美好的世界。香港若想變得更加国际化,其文化必然是多元的。海納百川,有容乃大。最後奉勸諸位切勿將教科書修改變做個人攻擊。吾不希望本文殃及任何教育工作者。人無完人,金無足赤。

P.S.: I wish anyone who shares the same love for kids like me can push the reform of Hong Kong textbooks. I would humbly suggest unifying HK textbooks for starters. Regardless of skin color, mother tongues, birth origin, or any other differences, I think no parents want to let their children live with a heart filled with biases and hatred. Some young students got lost in protesting activities because distorting lens have been put on them. Let’s all take some courage to reflect on history and our differences,  so that we can create a world filled with more love than we have today. If Hong Kong wants to become a more internationalized city, its culture would definitely become more diverse. The ocean is great not because of its volume, but because of its inclusiveness to thousands of rivers. Lastly, I wish no one would suffer from assault, battery, or infliction of emotional distress in the process of reforming textbooks. No one is perfect.

【本文中英翻譯並非字字對應。因鄙人覺得翻譯之扼要在於傳遞真實的情感,所以中英文必須根據不同的文化背景調整遣詞造句之功。】

[ The translation was definitely not done at the line-by-line level. Because I find in an article like this, the priority is to convey the genuine emotional information behind language instead of the meaning of each word. To fulfill this goal, I had to depart briefly from the other version at some places.]

多謝!Thanks!

之明
William

June 29, 2019

Hong Kong

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

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©2019 by William@UnitedMinds. Article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY-ND) license. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Why It Is Time to Debut Global Governance

May 9, 2019

Dub XS

Let me start with the big picture. The Paris Agreement set a very high goal of reducing carbon emission. Some scholars proposed adopting a global carbon tax to aid the reduction process (Crattini et al. 2019). They suggest redistributing the revenue to citizens to win public support. However, we see this plan as something that will never work out.

Because the main idea here is still asking “polluting industries” to curb emission all by themselves, to compete with each other, to win or to lose in this “great game”. If we think of the globe as a big industry (or family), the energy industry is just doing their job to support other sectors (family members). What people are doing now is simply using economic measures to force the energy industry to completely replace fossil fuels in a very short time scale. We do not care if some people (countries) will lose their jobs or not; we assume some eager competitors will seek opportunities to rise in this game, and reach our ultimate goal: net-zero carbon emission.

This strategy did not really work for regular environmental pollution problems, not completely. We know the fact is that some countries got clean air while pollution problems are transferred to other areas … If we think we can automize everything and put our heavy polluting industries to some deserts, we reach a solution by then. However, CO2 is transported everywhere, thus moving the emission sources spatially does not help anyone, not really.

People put their hope on those eager newcomers in the energy industry. On the one hand, their promises cannot really be trusted. If you look at the documentation about the “Great Leap Forward” in China around 1960, you will find out what kind of lies people are willing to tell when they are under great public pressure and economic temptation. On the other, quite a few nations around the world rely on the traditional energy industries (petroleum, natural gas, shale gas, coal, etc.) What will they do if some of their citizen, if not all, lose their jobs? They will have to move to other industries or countries, introducing competition, if not conflicts, to their new places of living.

I am timid to mention the word “war”, but it is just a fact that if we (anyone not working in the traditional energy industry) keep treating our industrial partners (family members) so harshly, the probability to have some regional, or even global-scale, wars, is obviously high.

Thus we suggest people in every corner of the earth work together to face the global warming problem. Instead of reprimanding traditional energy industries (our family members), why don’t we collaborate with and support them?

Surveys have already shown that the public supports the idea of the global carbon tax if it is used to mitigate global warming (the same paper, Crattini et al. 2019). If we want to avoid destabilizing the global society and maintain our current economic thrust, the best strategy is to keep every other part of the global industry fixed while replacing the broken part, the traditional energy industry — that is, pumping revenue from the global carbon tax to the traditional energy industry directly and make them rejuvenate.

This sounds a bit like the old Soviet-type economic planning (STP). STP has a lot of disadvantages. However, one of its major advantages is to reduce the unemployment rate. Unemployment may be tolerable for one country, but if unemployment happens at a global scale, can we really bear it? Actually, despite all kinds of critics, the GDP of the former Soviet Unit was $2.7 trillion in 1989. It made the Soviet Union the second largest economy by that time (the first was the USA, which had a GDP of $5.6 trillion in 1989). The former Soviet Union also contributed tremendously to the development of science and technology of the human world, which is a fact that cannot be denied by anyone. There must be some advantages in the STP approach, otherwise, the tremendous economy and science contribution of the Soviet Union to the world cannot be explained.

Today’s world is interconnected by global trades and worldwide waves of immigration. Some of us are “weakly” connected by economic activities, but for others, the connection across continents is deep in our blood. Today’s global economy is filled with Darwinism. Yes, competition helps people contain their greediness in business and helps humankind as a whole to achieve more in the technology field. But as a whole, what other species are we trying to compete with? Aliens? Do we really have to treat each other so harshly to advance human history?

Global warming is a challenge to all of us. We do not really have more time to argue and compete. The psychological nature of human competition is not very different from that of dog play. Puppies appear to be wrestling with each other on the surface while they play, but we know they are just having fun underneath. They do lose their temper occasionally (and we all know the human counterpart of this), but most of the time, a fight without hurting each other is a good and fun play. Yet, after all, a play is a play, we don’t have time for that kind of fun.

STP sounds scary for some of us on this planet. But this seems to to be the only acceptable option for us for now and a foreseeable future. And, since we have run this exercise once (actually more than once …) in human history, we wouldn’t repeat the same kind of mistakes anymore, would we?

William

 

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©2019 by William@UnitedMinds. Article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY-ND) license. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Discussion

This is an article we are working towards formal publication. If you have serious comments about it, please send an email to william ‘at’ unitedminds ‘dot’ net.

Thanks.