The problem with democracy

Ribbons

When the pepper spray and the tear gas dissolved, and people slightly relieved of the pain, the so-called violent mobs of protestors started doing something magical. They started cleaning up the streets. They separated the recyclables. They collected the empty cans of tear gas that were hurled at them hours ago. They shared supplies, they tweeted photos of their defensive tools against the pepper spray and the tear gas – umbrellas. Thus starting the #UmbrellaRevolution on Twitter. They took photos of boxes of umbrellas that vendors and other members of the public were handing to them to keep themselves safe, and protected, under a flimsy sheet of waterproof plastic supported by thin strands of metal, from the guns full of rubber bullets, backpacks of tear gas and pepper spray nozzles in the hands of the riot police.

On any other day, Hong Kongers will spew slurs at each other for not queueing properly, or taking up too much space on a crowded train. Acts of kindness are rare in a normal Hong Kong. We’ll tell you to go fuck everybody and their brother, but when you hurt one of us, the rest of us will not be on your side. The protestors aren’t bothered by your tear gas, because it’ll sting, but the pollution in Hong Kong kills them already. Your pepper spray might blind them temporarily, but they’ll only appreciate their sight more when it returns. You can hit them with your batons, but they will ice their bruises and continue telling you to find your morality.

At the end of the day, dear police officers, you, too, are civilians. In your uniform, you are not authority, you are the physical manifestation of a corrupt government. You are just dancers to whatever tune they set for you, and at the end of the violence and tears, you too, will be suppressed in the darkness. But the difference between you and us, will be that we won’t be alone. Whether we supported each other on the ground in Hong Kong or in London, New York, Malaysia, or Brazil, we will be together.

This small difference is why you can’t break the protestors. You can suffocate the protestors into a corner, but you will suffocate them together, and they will retreat knowing you have lost for violence is not a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. Weakness that stems from fear. Fear of the unarmed civilians, who stand stronger than you will ever feel. Fear of the students, who shook an entire political system. Fear of the power of education, that despite language barriers and physical pain, shone through every single person standing on the roads of Hong Kong.

Blocking Instagram and censoring other media shows the protestors that you, the government, are afraid of its people. It shows us that you realise that we have broken your bubble. Governments do not control people. People control the government, and we will not let you forget that. You, the government, have failed your people. You have failed the very foundation of your existence. You have failed the ones who will love their city unconditionally, but are not afraid of you, or your guns and your vague official comments. You have realised that we don’t need you.

You need us.

 

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