The Occupy Hong Kong started at the end of September, right before the national day of China on Oct 1. By now, the movement has shown dividing lines across political methods and age groups. The leaders of the original Occupy Central have taken more of a backseat while the young people who spearheaded the recent events have taken the forefront.
At the beginning, there’s great unity in supporting the young people who originally occupied the Civic Square, but soon, the united front began to show its cracks. Some are telling the three original leaders of the Occupy Central to step aside, seeing them only as old idealists who get in the way of progress. Others clamor for media attention and leadership roles. Still others begin to question methods of those who are different than they are. Some advocate for more of a street-style activism. Opposite to them are those who advocate for more of a cautious and circumspective idealism. Soon enough, there’s dissention among the ranks. To make matters worse, many don’t want Joshua Wong the young student leader to be the representative to negotiate with the government in terms of what to do because Wong doesn’t represent all interests. The HK government is also quite smart in talking to Wong, knowing full well that a single voice can’t represent the people. Here’re the observations I’ve made.
It is dangerous not to retain unity as much as possible. It is normal for various camps to have various agenda. It is also normal for different types of people having different methods. It is however not beneficial to divide up among factions now. It’s best to put down egos and work together at this point. The reason is not only because of the strength unity can bring against the oppressors. The more important reason is the democratic ideal. In a working democracy, true tolerance of minor differences serves as the basis for dialogue. The differences do not mean that there’s no overarching principle that unites. The real question may have to be “Under what principle are we united?” A working democracy allows for unified principles (e.g. US Constitution) being practiced in very diverse ways. Diversity and differences of opinions do not need to be a weakness. It is the greatest strength of democracy. It is up to the protesters to come together to demonstrate that democratic ideal instead of merely paying lip service to it. How that will be accomplished remains to be seen.
The second observation I have is on leadership. With democracy, there’ll always been a search for leaders. The movement right now has prided itself on having no single leader but started by the people. While this is romantically euphoric, it is not a long-term solution, at least historically speaking (there’s no historical evidence of a movement with no leader having a long-term effect). I hope to see a multiple of leaders in the emerging movement.
From the church front though, I’m glad to see multiple leaders coming out in support for justice. This has been one of the brighter spots in the period leading up to the protest Let’s just leave aside the leaders who are still pro-government for the moment. Frankly, i’m tired of talking about them. To be honest, the church can learn a lot from the wisdom of these leaders that came out to support the protest. They not only earned the good will of the oppressed but also put their career on the line for a worthy cause. On the Worldwide Communion Sunday on the first day of the month, several church leaders were out there among the people giving communion to the believers among the protesters. Some were assisting in counseling those affected by this event. This is a greater witness than those who continue to advocate for the oppressive government or the churches that cry “peace, peace!” when there is no peace. Finally, in her support for the protest, the church has gained a human face. In this human face, we might just see a glimpse of the face of Jesus.