Mental health crisis: 'joy' of HongKongers suffering: new identity, democracy and future
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
The Buddha said 'life is suffering'.
Buddhists believe the way to overcome all suffering is to live in the moment!
HongKongers are collectively creating our identity, democracy and hence our own future!
Thanks Xi Jinping for all that you are doing to help Hong Kong and its people! (Now please go and put some clothes on!).
The meaning of suffering｜Benny Tai Yiu-Ting
Apple Daily 16 December 2020 (format added)
Hong Kong is going through tribulation and all Hong Kong people are involved in this political suffering. Not many people thought that suffering would come to Hong Kong, especially the middle-aged and younger generation who have never really experienced it. Over the years, Hong Kong has been a blessed place where everything seems to be progressing. Although there have been some stagnations, everyone always thinks that the low tide will pass soon.
But this time, the suffering brought by the national security law will not be short-lived, and the people of Hong Kong have never imagined that it would be so unbearable.
People feel pain in suffering. Perhaps there is no way to know the true cause of suffering, but if one can reflect on the nature of it and understand how experiencing it can bring about change in life, it may help people to strengthen their minds and the will to endure the long days of hardship.
Not many people realize that this common experience of suffering is unknowingly creating a unique shared identity for all Hong Kong people.
This hardship that Hong Kong is going through is not the same as other personal traumas such as career problems, illnesses, and the death of loved ones.
In this suffering, everyone may have different personal experiences and feelings but the source of it is the same.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has reneged on its promises, forbidding Hong Kong from practicing true democracy and autonomy. The CCP has instead imposed an authoritarian dictatorship in Hong Kong, depriving Hong Kong people of their freedom and human rights, making us live in fear, suppression, and depression every day.
The world is now far different from the free world that everyone was used to before.
This shared experience of suffering has given people who are in the same situation an appreciation for each other, as their similar journey allows them to better understand the sentiments of other people on the same path.
It is also because we have been oppressed by the dictatorship of the CCP that we have come closer, even though we may have had different ideas about whether we should fight and the ultimate goal, methods and pace of our resistance.
This collective identity may not have a direct and immediate meaning to the current situation, except for the fact that people on the same path can gather together and support each other, making it easier for us to survive these dark days.
However, after this period of hardship, when Hong Kong has the opportunity to move in a new direction, the meaning will become very different.
The common identity that has been formed will allow Hong Kong and its people to go global. Perhaps when the CCP suppressed Hong Kong, it didn’t think that it would do Hong Kong a big favor.
Democracy has never been free and everyone in society has to pay a high price to get it.
The people of Hong Kong have just been privileged for too long in the past such that they think the fight for democracy can be easily obtained. The struggle over the past seven years, especially the new constitutional order of Hong Kong under the national security law, has finally made the people of Hong Kong realize that democracy can only be enjoyed at a price.
The suffering we are going through now is to engrave this lesson deeply into everyone’s heart.
By nature, if something is too easy to get, it may not be cherished. However, after going through this difficult time to get it, one day when democracy can really be implemented in Hong Kong, people will understand that it is not easy to acquire and will treasure it even more.
Democratization is not only about how to fight for the establishment of a democratic system, but equally important is how to solidify the established democratic system.
In many places where democracy is in place, there is a retrogression in democracy after a period of time, and the politically powerful use democratic elections to establish an autocratic rule.
With this shared suffering for democracy, I believe that when democracy is realized in Hong Kong, the people of Hong Kong will never allow anyone to use the democratic system to dictate power because the autocratic rule has hurt everyone too deeply.
Suffering also has another meaning, that is, life will be refined through hardship. Just as gold has to be refined by hot fire to force the impurities to rise to the surface for removal, this political suffering is a purification process that will refine Hong Kong to be purer.
It is true that the experience of suffering is very unbearable, but if we can get past it, reflect deeply on ourselves during the process and develop stronger resilience, and if after being suppressed, we can stand up again quickly and be even stronger mentally and physically than before, then the suffering has not been in vain.
Moreover, the only thing that can help us through our tribulation is the hope that still exists in each person’s heart. It is not a blind illusion, but a hope based on the history of human development and the essence of human nature.
In the midst of suffering, if we can share the hope in our hearts with others, even if it is very faint, but if a few more people can gather the tiny light of hope in their hearts, it can become a guiding light for others to continue their journey.
If we can carefully guard the flame of hope in our arms, perhaps without knowing it, that tiny flame will suddenly become a blazing fire. When Hong Kong emerges from the flames, we will never be the same again.
(Benny Tai Yiu-Ting is a Hong Kong legal scholar and democracy activist.)
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