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  • Writer's pictureJosey Goggin

Holding Hands in Hong Kong

This week has been a long one. Watching the impeachment hearings unfold. Watching the GOP fold.

Schiff and his team have been masterful. The Republican senators on the other hand are a horrifying embarrassment to what this country stands for. Party over country. Power over country.

CULT over country.

I needed to be inspired. And so I turned to nonviolent action. Again.

I wanted to write about something hopeful, a simple expression of humanity acting in concert. At first I was at a loss. I've tracked hundreds of actions and been inspired by them all. How does one narrow options from all of that to something that reminds me of how, in the face of profound power and its abuse, brave human beings can stand together and remind each other of what is possible?

Then I remembered the protesters in Hong Kong and their ongoing battle, their persistence and resilience, their stunning ingenuity in standing for what they believe over the last year. I could write on nothing but Hong Kong and have months and months and months of material for this blog, but for this post, one specific action stood out.

August 23, 2019. On that late afternoon people in Hong Kong standing for democracy gathered to form a human chain that spanned from one edge of the province to the other, over twenty-eight miles of roads and subways and sidewalks and hilltops[1]. I spent the day of the action glued to the internet, scouring reddit and instagram, and everywhere else I could for images and statements and information. I could not get enough of it.

The action had everything. Human connection, contrasting scale, beauty, efficiency, and effectiveness.

It is such a basic human thing, holding hands.

We do it in support and solidarity, in love and friendship, in sending a message that we stand together. That organizers pointed back in history and referenced the August 23, 1989 Baltic Way protest against Soviet domination connected their actions through time to another powerful nonviolent moment and reflected the humanity of both. It reminded me that people have stood together time and time again against tyranny and powerful opponents.

The scale of the action, spanning the entire Hong Kong territory, along three subway lines[2] and through thirty-nine subway stations[3] demonstrated how simply standing side by side fortified people’s own sense of what can be powerful, effective, and safe in a situation wrought with danger.

As the evening drew on, protesters used their phones to add sparkling light and beauty to an already inspiring action. Human faces faded into the darkness and a twenty-eight mile long strand of twinkling lights replaced them across the province.

Stand together. Remember the past. Look to the future.

There is light on the horizon. We will make it.

Nonviolent actions employed:

[1] No. 163: Mill-in

[2] No. 172: Nonviolent obstruction

[4] No. 173: Nonviolent Occupation and No. 175: Overloading of facilities

Additional resources:


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