There he was, drenched with an unlit candle and plastic bag raincoat, an introverted businessman, standing by himself…
My colleague remarked, “It’s raining dog crap (that’s the Cantonese expression of “raining cats and dogs”) …
The loudspeaker said, “Please share your umbrellas with those who need it.” I’m an American. I don’t do “share” well, especially when my umbrella is tiny and my bum is getting soaked. I need my personal space. More out of guilt than conviction, I said to him weakly, “Want to get under my umbrella?” He replied weakly, “Sure. Thanks.”
This man and I are a bit alike. We’re both shy in our public expression. I’m not much into shouting slogans, though I shouted a few. I much prefer to be left alone with my thoughts on what happened on June 4th, 1989 where government figure told us only less than 300 people were killed when in reality, more than 4,000 were killed (according to some eyewitnesses) but surely we can’t ever account for fatalities because the government bulldozed the bodies like useless fecal matter and dumped them into a statistical abyss. They call that “cleanup” around here.
So we stood together in Victoria Park after twenty four years. I admit, this was my first public demonstration. When Tieanmen Square massacre happened, I had lived in the US for a long time, close to fifteen years. I grew up among mostly white kids. I felt appalled but the events felt surreal and faraway as I watched numbly what the TV could reveal. The world of mainland China felt foreign. During my stint in Hong Kong, for one reason or another, I was not able to make the previous demonstrations. This year, I deliberately flew in two days early and tried my best to get over my jet lag to be there. Why was I there?
A dear friend of mine had been asked the same question, “Why do you participate? You know whatever you do won’t change the policy of the oppressive government.” The final count of protesters according to the police last night was around 50,000. You know oppressive government everywhere always have trouble with math, right? That’s why I was there. I was there because there’s 150,000 of us who had our own stories, feelings and reasons against senseless killing of civilians. We refused to be silenced, even after twenty four years. I didn’t care if my waterlogged jeans were stuck to my bum. A little wet firework by nature couldn’t compared to the rain of bullets and reign of terror on that fateful evening on June 4th, 1989. We would not let the victors’ history take over the real narrative. We would pass this to our children and grandchildren, not just as ethnic Chinese but as concerned humans.
Why was I there? I was not there to theologize about heaven crying on this dark day, though some may wish to do that. I’ve long given up trying to figure out where God was and where He is in this and that day. Who knows? I was there for more practical causes. I was there because of the terrorist government using one of the strongest and largest standing armies against its own unarmed people (estimated 300,000 troops that night, and no, the students didn’t try to burn them or murder them the way the authorities would have you believe). I was there because so many terrorist Christian preachers who had bought into Satanic lies about absolute obedience to a terrorist state. I was there because of the government’s lies (per Li Peng) that stability was the best building block for reform. I was there because some Hong Kong Christian leaders now talk like Li Peng and are committing verbal terrorism. After twenty four years, China remains one of the most oppressive regimes of history. Not a damn thing has changed, other than more money resulting in more corruption and oppression. I was there because there’re people who actually bought into the lie about stability. Someone even said, “If China didn’t crack down on the students, it would never be as strong as it is today.” I wasn’t there because I was born in Hong Kong. I was there because I’m human… It’s natural for humans to stand up for other innocent human beings.
Someone finally noticed my new-found friend’s candle was still unlit. He came over and lit his candle. We now had one lit candle between the both of us. My job was to keep the candle from going out. We were a team.
Besides being soaked to the bones, the man who shared my umbrella and I were very much alike. As a team, we stood against something, and we stood for something. We never had a conversation, but we had an understanding. We’re here not just as MANY but also as ONE. As the crowd dispersed, he turned to me shyly and said, “Thanks for sharing.” I said firmly, “Any time! No problem. All the best to you, man.” This night, we’re the same. He’s my brother.
NB: I borrowed the banner from a good friend and translated it while adding English subtitle. Never forget!