IT IS HALF way through 2020 and what a year it has turned out to be! Our society grapples with multiple issues that threaten peaceful cohabitation. Recently, a funny but thought-provoking one-liner appeared in social media: “God, can I reinstall 2020, because the current version is corrupted with a virus.” The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has already claimed over 400,000 lives out of seven million people infected.
For Hong Kong, what is even scarier than the pandemic is the central government’s draft legislation to impose the National Security Law on the city. People believe this will affect free speech and their right to protest. In China, this would be seen as subversion.
But one image that has shaken the world in the past weeks was of the police brutality and death of an unarmed black man in custody in Minneapolis, United States of America (US). The state that champions freedom and human rights, has also exposed its ugly face of social, economic and political structures that unfairly victimise some people and unduly privilege others.
Repeated police brutality drove tens of thousands of people to flood the streets across the nation for more than three weeks crying “black lives matter.” As happens with any mass movement, here too there were miscreants, taking advantage of the situation, causing rampant violence and looting stores. In spite of all the violence, people are hopeful of a change in the system for the better. We will remember the visuals of Gianna, the six-year-old daughter of George Floyd, saying on camera, “Daddy changed the world.”
Local governments and civic groups will soon draw up some pacifying solutions to calm down the heat of moment, but finding a lasting solution to the problem of racial discrimination is not going to be easy. It is not a problem for the US alone. Racism is a far more dangerous virus than Covid-19.
How often do the domestic workers or people of other nationalities and people of colour in our city face discrimination or abuse? Even if I do not do it myself, when I refuse to raise my voice against such abusive behaviour, I choose to be a racist!
Being a Catholic, I may feel proud that I am free from this menace. Really? How well do we treat our domestic helpers at home? Hong Kong has a dubious record of ill-treating and even torturing domestic helpers. When our parish councils discuss how much time should be allocated to people of a different nationality for the use of parish facilities, while there are no such restrictions for the local parishioners, are our churches not becoming racist too? Charity begins at home! What can I do to stop the spread of this virus?
After the death of George Floyd and widespread violence in the US, Pope Francis prayed for the victims and tweeted: “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form. At the same time, we have to recognise that violence is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. Let us pray for reconciliation and peace.”
The solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ sets a challenge before those who receive it: Partaking in the Body and Blood of Christ, will we consider one another as our blood relations and care for one another? Jose