Revisiting Childhood Belief Systems: Hong Kong Edition
The Hong Kong Convention Center is a crazy looking beast. It faces the ocean and stares at Kowloon. It was built for the huge party that took place after the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from Britain back to China. China’s president and Prince Charles were on hand to raise the five star red flag and lower the union jack, ending more than a hundred years of colonial “occupation.” The center hosted 4,000 delegates from all over the world and 8,000 journalists. I was browsing the photo exhibition that chronicled the entire event and I suddenly burst into tears. My emotions were thick, mixed and confused.
1997 seemed very far away when I was 15 (1968). During those impressionable teenage years in Hong Kong, I was a self-styled “revolutionary” freedom fighter. I was impressed with what communists were doing to build a brand new China. I participated in sit-ins along with thousands of students protesting imperialism. I followed the fashion and thinking of the hippies in America. My first crush was a boy, all of 18, who read me Chairman Mao’s epic poem, “Spring in Yen Garden.” In my hot-blooded heart, I felt it was a damn shame that the Manchus lost Hong Kong to the white devils during the Opium Wars. I had prayed for the day that Hong Kong would be returned to China and all Honkers be free again.
I immigrated to the US when I was 18 and became an American. Forty years later, my memories of Hong Kong had faded into dust. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the photos of the change-over brought the event to life. My youthful dreams all came rushing back. I saw the young girl I was then. Back then, I knew what was right and what was wrong: British bad, China good, there was no room for other ideas. Today, my standards have changed. I now believe all things are neutral; right or wrong is dependent on one’s focus.
It was Bashar, my alien teacher, who first introduced the idea to me: everything is neutral. For example, you’re running late and you missed your train. This is a neutral event. As you stand on the platform, you could think to yourself, “ah, how fortunate, I’ve more time to relax” or you could think, “my boss will kill me for being late to work!” Your reality is created by your belief system. You get what you believe. What is happening is actually neutral; there is no good or bad. Only your focus can make it good or bad. Say you keep your thought positive, you walk into the office and your boss is pissed but because you’re relaxed you make a big sale and now your boss is happy. Or, alternatively, you could think negatively and mess up your entire day. Reality could go either way depending on what you make of it.
Hong Kong being under the Brits or the Chinese is a good thing to some and bad to others. The girl who I was could not understand that. She thinks there actually is a reality out there when there is none. Furthermore, her ideas are other people’s ideas. Her reality is a learned reality, the result of schooling, culture, family and history. All of these are subject to reconsideration by Jenny Funkmeyer in the here and now.