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一個香港現況的比喻

2019/11/18 — 14:54

編按:博客 Evan 希望我們幻想一支我們熱愛的球隊,這支隊伍參加了 22 年的比賽但從未獲勝,而裁判和規則是由對家的老闆制定,你會生氣,甚至拒絕作賽嗎?

Evan asks us to imagine a sports team we love, and then to imagine if the team had for 22 years competed in games it was never allowed to win, where the referee and rules were set by the owner of the opposition. Might you be angry, and might you even refuse to play the game?

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An analogy of the Hong Kong situation

The situation in Hong Kong has become very emotionally charged. There is so much circulating that it is easy to lose sight that the situation in Hong Kong. Though I have spent much of the last two years focusing on the nuances of what can be seen as a highly complex situation, sometimes it helps to be reminded that the core of the issue is quite simple. So, for a friend, who shares my love and the deep connection I feel for Hong Kong, but who I suspect has been overwhelmed on many levels by recent events, I draw this analogy.

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For many years a game has been played. In my grandfather’s time there were two teams, one red and one blue. Today they are the blues and yellows. They are not the same teams as before, and players have come and gone, but most people who supported the reds are now fans of the blues, whilst most supporters of what were the blues now support the yellows.

Everyone I know grew up watching the games, and following our team. As with most families, not everyone in my family supported the same team, and like most families we did not really care. Yes, we had our preference, and we never missed any of the important games, but on the whole we enjoyed the occasion without ever really being passionate fans.

Growing up I learnt that the rules of the game. These would change occasionally, but generally these changes just made the games more unpredictable and exciting. After all, this is why everyone followed the game, and why we filed into the stadium to watch the games played. Sometimes one team would be better than the other, but the great thing about a game was you could never know the result — upsets happen, and fortunes change.

For many years, perhaps as far back as when the game began, though no one really knows when that was, the referee had always come far away. Referees cared little for either team, and though they sometimes got some decisions wrong, and on a few occasions got pelted by angry fans, he was on the whole respected as it was known he was neutral.

Then, twenty two years ago, the old referee left and the rules of the game were changed by a new governing body. Everyone was told that the changes would only be small, and that the game could continue to be played, because they were so important to our lives and in shaping our identities. The rule changes did seem minor and the games did continue, though it was obvious to everyone that the changes did favour one team over the other.

Before the changes in the rules and referee the yellow team had generally been the stronger team, and like most successful teams it also attracted more fans. People like to support a winner. But after the changes the blues began to win, and win consistently. Some people pointed out the owner of the blues was also the new governing body that now set the rules and appointed the referee. Others said it was because the blues were just the better team, and that because more people now supported them they had the resources to develop their team and to learn ways to play the game better.

To many people, including me, and many yellow supporters, it did not matter provided that the games continued. Our concerns were relieved by a promise, made by both the departing governing body and the new governing body, that the game would not only be played fairly and the spirit of the game respected, but that the new governing body would continue to change the rules of the game to make it more competitive and ensure supporters of both teams will continue to take fill the stadium.

For twenty two years now only one team has won. The blues fans have become more embolden, and now talk of their team as the best team there has ever been. As their team continues to win they struggle to understand why yellow supporters do not change sides, and expect everyone to love their team.

Yellow supporters though are increasingly unhappy. They see their team starved of money, whilst the governing body lavishes prize money and investment in the team they own, and the team that wins every game. Some people have lost interest in the game, but are not able to leave their home which continues to be defined by it. Besides, they have nowhere to go.

The games continue today. The yellows always lose. They may score an unlikely goal, but when the whistle is blown the will always have lost the game. The referee is there to ensure the result, and if it gets close the rules may be bent. When the yellows try to recruit a talented young player, the governing body steps in and prevents the sale. Players that distinguish themselves on the field are arbitrarily sent off. When yellow fans start to boo they are called hooligans and a disgrace to the game, and escorted out.

Watching each game there are a small number of fans from across the world. Some support the blues, others the yellow. They see a yellow team that is a shadow of their former self, with vociferous but dwindling support, and a blue team that from their vantage point high in the stands seems to win with ease. Some who have been follow the yellows over these years know that the games are staged — that the competition that had once given this game meaning, and which fed the spirit and defined the values of fair play on which this city and its people were once known, ended a long time ago. All that remains is the spectacle.

This summer, when the referee again blew the whistle, fans of the game rose in unison. Even people who had supported the blues could not help but feel that something important was close to being lost, and that the game had become a farce. Fans of the yellows team took the opportunity to remind the referee and the governing bodies of a promise that had been made, and that with confidence in the game collapsing the only way forward was to honour that promise and change the rules so that it might again be a competition.

Even after several weeks of booing and chanting by both sets of fans within the stadium, the referee continued to pretend that nothing was wrong and demanded the players to continue the game. People had stood up, the governing body insisted, because the stadium required new seating. Those who were booing were told they were not real fans, but hooligans sent to the game by an opposing league to make the game look bad, and were forceable removed from the stadium. All through this the referee nodded whilst waving play on.

In such a scenario would you be surprised if some players on the yellow team refused to play on? Or if yellow team fans began to throw bottles at the referee and at the stadium security as they were led away? And if you were the stadium security would you not handle the situation with extreme sensitivity, knowing that fans were not misbehaving because they were drunk, but because, despite the fanfare of each game, one team could never win?

It is easy to think of the political divide merely as two teams, both doing their best and playing in their own style to win for Hong Kong. And that both yellows and blues are fans of two competing teams. It’s a simplistic understanding of the situation Hong Kong finds itself in today, as all analogies are, but it does highlight two critical points too easily lost when we are only focusing on what is happening in the stadium. Firstly, the events of the game being played since June of this year must be understood within the context of how the game changed, perhaps slightly on paper but fundamentally in spirit and in result, 22 years ago — a change that threatens to turn what was a defining game for Hong Kong and the Hong Kong people into a farce. Secondly, the analogy helps explain why for many the situation is so emotional and the stakes are perceived as being so high. The actions of those playing for the yellow team, and their supporters, is a reflection of 22 years of disappointment and the dawning realisation that without both a change in the rules and a respect for the game not only will their team never win, but the game they play and which is a core part of their home city, shaping its identity, values of fair play and competition, and respect for opposition, will eroded into meaninglessness.

Whether your game is basketball or football, or tennis or golf, imagine for a moment if the team or player you support, could never win. What if you knew the rules of the game were set by the owner of your opponent, and the referee or umpire selected by your opponent from people who had to be ardent supporters of your rival. And what if this has been going on for 22 years, and despite having raised your concerns, all your team is ever told is to just keep trying? There are many people I know who would cry foul murder if this were to happen to Manchester United or Liverpool, or to Federer or Nadal. And then, if your passions are aroused, remember that what is at stake today is more than just a sport.

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