The spirit of Lennon Wall never dies

August 20, 2019 12:54
The Lennon Wall is a symbol of the people's protest against the erosion of our freedoms. Photo: Bloomberg

I was shocked beyond words at what happened this morning in my neighborhood of Tseung Kwan O. 

According to initial reports, a man in his forties attacked three people with a meat chopper after arguing with them over a Lennon Wall put up near King Lam Estate.

One of the victims, a 26-year-old woman, was in critical condition after suffering wounds to her neck and back. 

Who could do such a thing to these people, who were simply expressing their fond hopes for democracy in our city? 

The Lennon Wall is a symbol of the people's protest against the erosion of our freedoms.

Like flowers, these colorful posts have blossomed everywhere in the city, in subways, bus terminals, university campuses, waiting sheds and on window panes.

They have given the protest movement in Hong Kong its unique character, and they exemplify the peaceful nature of dissent as practiced by our people. So why counter it with violence?

I'm shocked that such a horrible assault could happen just a day after 1.7 million people impressed the world with a peaceful and orderly demonstration in the 11th week of the anti-extradition bill movement.

I couldn't understand why some people cannot tolerate those with opposing views. Isn't it that respect and tolerance are the hallmarks of a civilized society, of a place we call Asia's world city?

The Lennon Wall was a signature activity of the Occupy Central movement five years ago when people expressed their wishes and words of encouragement to each other with colorful Post-it notes on public walls.

It reappeared this summer as people gave vent to their anger and frustration at a government that appears intent on giving away our precious rights and liberties.

And so the Lennon Wall again became a medium of expression of our emotions, of our hopes for a better society.

From Taipo to Mong Kok, Lennon Walls sprouted and bloomed. The messages, beautifully decorated, have turned into street art created and cared for by citizens from all walks of life, by parents and their young kids, by university students, by neighborhood friends. The Lennon Wall has become a community endeavor.

But some people cannot accept dissent, even if what is being fought for is our collective interests, our own future as citizens of Hong Kong.

Lennon Walls have also blossomed in other parts of the world, including major cities in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, where students and other sympathizers set up their own message boards in support of the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

In New York, according to Apple Daily, a "group of Fujianese" destroyed a Lennon Wall installed by Hong Kong protest sympathizers, but it was quickly rebuilt by Hong Kong immigrants and students in the city.

The Lennon Wall originated in Prague in the Czech Republic, where it was initially meant as a homage to singer and songwriter John Lennon after his 1980 assassination but later became a vehicle of dissent against the powers that be. 

Lennon Walls sprang up in different parts of the world, taking on different roles and encountering different fates.

But perhaps the thread that unifies all these walls can be found in the words of John Lennon himself: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one."

Lennon Walls may be built, destroyed and rebuilt. But the dreams that created them will remain. Because dreams never die.

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EJ Insight writer