I don’t much feel like making any snarky remarks, or snide asides or amusing quips.
About much of anything.
There doesn’t seem to be any room for humor. Not when people I know are going through hell. Not when people – actual living, breathing, hungry, sweating flesh and blood people – are being gassed and sprayed by their own fellow citizens.
The people of Hong Kong are in the midst of a crisis.
They were promised, at the hand-over of Hong Kong back to the Chinese, that by the year 2017 they would have fully democratic elections. That year is fast approaching. And the government has decided that fully democratic elections will not be forthcoming. Beijing will control the slate of ‘acceptable’ candidates, from which the populace may then choose.
‘Everyone gets a vote’ is not a fully democratic election – not when the candidates have been decided for you.
“You can have hamburger, or you can have hamburger. You’re free to choose. Enjoy your choice.”
Sometimes, the choice seems even more fundamental than that.
Sometimes the choice seems to be: “You can die, or you can die. The choice is yours.”
Today there’s pain. And fear. Oh, certainly a lot of fear. And the thing is, I don’t know how much of it is warranted. No one ever really knows when the fear is deserved, until after the fact.
There was fear twenty-five years ago. I watched the coverage of Tiananmen Square; some of it live; most of it delayed, so as not to upset the delicate sensibilities of the American viewing public.
That fear turned out to be prescient.
The difference now is that I know people there. Real, live, pleasant, funny, hard-working people. And I’m seeing live video; not just on TV, but online, and on Facebook. From people I know. People who’ve taken a stand. People who wish their government to be held accountable, and to live up to their promises.
I fear it’s only a matter of time, before even those feeds are choked off.
This isn’t about democracy versus a totalitarian regime. This isn’t about freedom to choose, or the lengths governments will go to, to stay in power. This isn’t even about the cynical view that it doesn’t matter who you vote for; the end result is always the same.
This isn’t about comparisons between America and China, or Thailand and Argentina, or Australia now and Australia then.
This is about a promise.
This is about the lies governments tell us, in order to keep things as quiet as possible.
Why are we still in Guantanamo?
Why are we still in Afghanistan, and going back into Iraq?
Why are we still hungry, and poor and under-employed; if we’re lucky enough to have a job in the first place?
And why don’t we have the balls to stand up and demand that those who promised us something deliver on that promise? I refuse to accept the justifications that say that it’s difficult, or the political realities don’t allow for it, or whatever else you wish to toss into the pot as a way of excusing politicians for not living up to their promises. If you’re connected enough to get nominated and elected, then you’re connected enough to have known all of that before you made the promise.
This is about lies, and justice. This is about all of us.
But we don’t have the courage to stand up to the liars, to demand that they live up to their promises.
Somewhere, out there, I know some people who do have that courage.
And today, they are suffering.