Students of the World Unite and Rise Up

In the previous post, July 1 Morning March Photos, I made a brief hint about how participation in mass events is sometimes interpreted as being coerced.  Perhaps I owe a more detailed explanation of how that works, in Hong Kong or anywhere else in the world.  The reality is that when you are only 14 years old or some such, you don't run your own life and that's that.  The adults control your life because they own the law and the money, and they have decided that you don't know enough to decide anything for yourself.

So here we have Ming Pao (via Yahoo! News) on the poor students who were forced to participate in the July 1 morning march in Hong Kong.

[translation]  The pro-government organizations held the first joint march to celebrate the handover of Hong Kong to China, and had more than 30,000 participants.  But our reporters discovered that some organizations offered special transportation as well as subsidized (or even free) lunches to reward its members.  Furthermore, some students complained about being 'forced' to march in lieu of being punished to stay after school and clean the schoolyard.

A certain secondary school in Shek Kip Mei belonging to a manufacturers' association organized about 40 students and 3 teachers to join the march.  According to a student who wishes to remain anonymous, the students were mostly 'forced' to come: "The school send us a note to recommend that we come.  The teachers said that if we did not come, we would be punished by staying after school or cleaning up the schoolyard.  We were forced to come here.  We are unhappy.  We think that the march is a waste of time."

When contacted, the school principal rejected the accusations.  She emphasized that the note clearly stated the students have the freedom to choose to march or not without any pressure.  If the student refuses to march, there is no punishment whatsover.

I am so glad that the Ming Pao reporter told us what a dreadful thing it is to coerce students to participate in events that mean nothing to them.

For me, the efforts of the Ming Pao reporter came decades too late.  Where was this clear voice of the reporter when I along with my classmates were forced to stand at this particular street corner in Hong Kong to wait for hours just so we can wave the British flags when Her Majesty the Queen of England drove by in her motorcade for a few seconds during her visit to Hong Kong?  Of course, I don't mind because this was the surest way for me to despise the Queen of England and everything that the United Kingdom and its colonial system stood for.

And why was I as a small child forced to get out on the streets and tried to rustle a few cents on 'flag' day in the name of charity?

And where was this clear voice of the reporter when I was forced to rise at 530am every morning to attend mass at my Catholic boarding school for years?  Just as the Ming Pao reporter quoted from the school principal, I was told back then that I had a choice, but everybody knew that the consequences were unimaginable.  Of course, I don't mind because this was the surest way of curing me of any religious piety.

So I don't consider it so horrible for the Hong Kong students to have been forced to attend the march.  That was the surest way of disabusing them of any patriotic ideas for the rest of their long and happy lives.