January 2, 2018
If you choose to watch only one documentary this year, let it be Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower. Get ready to be utterly inspired. Get ready to believe in the world again – specifically, to believe in young people again.
Joshua Wong is a teenager living in Hong Kong. At the very young age of 14, he started an organization called Scholarism. His youth organization started with a fight against a new curriculum that China insisted be put into place in all Hong Kong schools. (Basically, it was pro-communist, anti-democracy education.)
The documentary begins with a short history of recent events in Hong Kong, which I confess to paying semi-attention to in recent years in the news. (Shame on me – this is important.) Hong Kong was a United Kingdom territory until 1997, when it was literally handed back to China. Of course, under British rule, Hong Kong enjoyed democratically elected leaders and certain freedoms that simply do not exist in communist China. In theory, Beijing agreed to a “one country, 2 party” rule in Hong Kong for 50 years, meaning that for the next 50 years Hong Kong would be left alone. That, of course, did not happen.
Communist China is arguably the most powerful, and likely the most corrupt, country in the world, with a horrific human-rights record. I say arguably, because I’m an American citizen and we are certainly powerful, we oppress basically everyone but white men, and the current Administration is without a doubt the most corrupt currently in the world. (Clearly, this is up for debate, but needless to say, I’m embarrassed to be an American at the moment.) The Chinese government began to slowly, but surely, strip Hong Kong citizens of their basic freedom for free speech, democratically-elected leadership, and more.
Joshua’s movement won the first round. After physically occupying the downtown government buildings in the streets for weeks, the (non-democratically-appointed-leader of Hong Kong) finally gave in to their demands and decided that local schools could decide what curriculum they would use in their schools. Victory for round one. Scholarism’s movement led to another movement, the so-called “Umbrella Movement” and “Occupy” wherein the people occupied street areas once again, this time for 89 days, to demand democracy in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, they did not “win” this round and leaders were arrested, with the movement temporarily disbanded. The closest they got to a victory lap was China offering to allow Hong Kong citizens to vote on their leaders – of course, they would be selecting from candidates appointed from Beijing. Needless to say, this was an unacceptable option for people demanding democracy.
In the end, Joshua and his followers eventually closed-down Scholarism, choosing instead to start their own political party. They won a seat in the legislature, which is the only democratically-elected position in all of Hong Kong government. (FYI-search engines in China actually block searches for “Joshua Wong” if you can imagine such a thing.)
This story is gripping and awe-inspiring. I can’t imagine the courage it must take to literally take-on the biggest, the most powerful, and (arguably) the scariest regime on earth. Joshua, and his colleagues, are some of the most courageous individuals I’ve ever learned about in recent history. They refuse to salute a flag they do not believe in – one that does not serve their needs. (It reminded me quite a bit of our current battles in the US over something as ridiculous as getting upset over not standing up for the National Anthem. Eye roll.)
I had chills watching this documentary and I left absolutely inspired to make the world a better place. Joshua is a fantastic, wonderful, courageous speaker and leader. Obviously, I support the people of Hong Kong and their fight for universal suffrage and democracy. I am hopeful that the next administration in the U.S. will assist the people of Hong Kong in their fight. (I’ve given up hope that the current administration will ever do anything that is good for anyone – see my previous posts that include a wonderful “countdown clock” to the day Donald Trump will finally, mercifully, leave office.)
Proverbs 29:4 (NRSV): By justice a king gives stability to the land, but one who makes heavy exactions ruins it.
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io