|Do not give up our youngsters; and plead that they will not give up Hong Kong or Hope||中文原文|
30th November 2019
It is not easy to write this letter. Flipping through history, it is always not about something “good” whenever the Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) invites The Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools (HKAHSS) to write for “Letter to Hong Kong”. In 2012, Principal Yuen Pong-yiu wrote about the controversial issue on National Education. In 2015, Principal Michael Wong Wai-yu wrote on the sequlae of Occupy Central. In 2016, Principal Lee Suet-ying wrote on the debate over the independence of Hong Kong and discussion on contentious political issues in schools.
At the time when I was writing this letter, the tension at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (University) was relieved. There was no longer the intense smouldering of the night of 18th November. Recalling that date when the University was besieged, many principals received messages from parents and students seeking for help. Everyone was very worried. Thanks to the assistance of different parties, a group of principals and teachers could finally enter the University after overcoming various hurdles.
To persuade our students to leave the campus was not easy. Yet, it is our vocation as teachers to protect them. When they are at difficult times, we should stand by them. We hope everyone can understand our heart-wrenching feeling to see the sense of hopelessness and helplessness in them. Eventually, when we saw that our students could leave the campus safely one after another, we were relieved. We hope every one of you, just like us, was relieved too.
In 2019, Hong Kong people faced a social crisis which lasted for the longest period of time in the local history. We see that there are more and more serious social unrest, violence and accusation not only among youngsters but also adults. Many are trapped in the vicious cycle of mutual provocation, hatred and harm. That is what we educators worry most.
We work in school with love, the foundation of everything we do. When students are naughty, we get upset too. However, we always remind ourselves that we get upset because of our love for them. It is as the Chinese idiom says, “We hate to see that iron cannot become steel.” We definitely will not resent or hate our students because of their ‘unruly’ behaviuor as we are witnessing how love is turned into hatred due to the social crisis. How ironic it is to see that because we love Hong Kong, we finally turn to hatred and mutual attacks. Unlike movie storylines, there will not be any happy ending with revenge taken or conflicts resolved through such means. Hatred will only lead the society to decadence. Though this is what every one of us knows, it is easier said than done when we are surrounded by hatred in society.
Fortunately, besides working hard on persuading our students to leave the campus, I see hope in those few days. In the campus, I met very conscientious people who are social workers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, volunteers, religious leaders, professors, politicians, government officials, principals, teachers, etc. Though they might have different political views, they all care for youngsters and are sad and worried about the current situation in Hong Kong. I saw how everyone worked together to find ways to settle the situation at the University peacefully. Though the world outside the University was still filled with hatred and some people criticized us for risking our lives or spoiling the youngsters, we finally saw hope and managed to break the deadlock.
Sometimes, we may wonder whether we can really dissolve hatred with love.
Many political commentators do not favour the idea that love can dissolve hatred, and some even treat that idea as simple and naïve. However, when what you can feel is only hatred, I would like to tell you that love is actually more real than real. Love is not only a matter of the present, it is eternal. We have to be careful of the spell or trap if we only have hatred inside. I hope that more and more Hong Kong people will believe that love can dissolve hatred, and that schools, different social institutes, commercial organisations and the government must build on love and conscience, the lacking of which will lead to a social downfall. Though there is a lot of laceration and hatred in today’s Hong Kong, I still believe that we can work together to find a way out with love and conscience.
As a principal who has worked in school for more than 30 years and is going to retire soon, I have kept saying that “Youngsters are our future”. While this sentence is real heavy today against such a challenging social context, I would like to appeal to our community leaders and people of wisdom and vision not to give up our youngsters. I also hope that our youngsters will not give us up. They will not give up Hong Kong or hope for the future.
Wish everyone peace! Hong Kong Stay Strong!
Teddy Tang Chun-keung