A Pause to Consider
I once heard a delightful, if slightly garbled, presentation that began with the curious line “welcome to here”. The greeting seemed sufficient, and the speaker probably didn’t need to mention where he was. Or so I thought. But on reflection it’s not always obvious where ‘here’ is. Sometimes it pays to stop and look around, note changes in the landscape, and only then decide where to go next. In that sense, blogging is a journey into uncertainty for both the reader and the writer. So this post is my first stop along the way – a pause to reflect and consider before moving on once more.
Much of the early impetus for this blog came from the realisation that I had a great deal to say about things that didn’t seem to fit, modes of thought that appeared peculiar if I skimmed off the presumptions. Along the way I’ve drawn criticism for my position on online book reviews, knowledge management, the conceptualisation of outer space and journalistic writing. Most of it has been well founded and I’ve changed stance, whether almost fully or just partly. That seems to me the great value of blogging – being able to debate and reiterate, being involved in a conversation. It’s not precise, but it has allowed me to compare ideas with people from around the world, to learn and unlearn.
More recently I’ve moved away from a focus on ideas to a focus on events, or more precisely one event. The disappearance and death of Vicenta Flores in Hong Kong has shaken my family, not only because she was part of our local community, a familiar stranger, but also because the way her case was being investigated seemed too subdued, not urgent enough. It shook my family because Vicenta was Filipino, and thus easily ignored.
I’m the only non-Filipino in my household of five. So much for my kids’ future.
My initial post on Vicenta’s death led to the establishment of another blog, A Death in Hong Kong, to publicise how my community is responding to the situation. And, of course, there’s a whole lot of activity happening offline. But for most of Hong Kong, life goes on unchanged. Speaking to other people involved in coordinating the community reaction, it seems that we need to do more about that sort of attitude. An activist blog on the general condition of migrant workers is sorely needed. That won’t be the fate of Greetings Earthlings! – we’re planning to start a multi-author blog connected to an informal network of volunteers, working to help where we can, and to publicise common abuses within the system of labour importation.
I’ll report on that when it’s up and running.
But ideas and activism are never far apart – someone who wants things to change had better grab a few good ideas to use, or at least work to dismantle old, tired ways of thinking. So my posts here will continue to push against the puzzles I see in the world at large, both in Hong Kong and elsewhere. I’ll continue to learn as I post, and I hope as ever to draw others into the conversation. Next I’ll write about the unnecessary puzzle of poverty – why so many people confuse shifting material conditions with permanent incapacity.
There’ll be a little bit of activism and a few big ideas. Welcome to here.