Hong Kong’s uprising for freedom gives me hope. That might sound strange, because Hong Kong’s people are up against terrible odds.
In protesting China’s encroaching rule, they are defying the most powerful tyranny on the planet — a techno-totalitarian system that aims to grind them into submission. Yet for months they have carried on with their protests for liberty, justice and democracy, calling to each other, and to America: “Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!”
It is precisely that courage, that determination, that profound yearning for freedom, that offers hope to all of us. Not that all movements for freedom succeed. The tragedy is that many do not; or if they do, it is only after many tries, at mortal cost. But in the attempt, they deliver a blazing reminder of the essential grit and glory of the human spirit.
This desire for freedom was richly on display in China itself some 30 years ago, in the Tiananmen protests of 1989, and it is precisely that heroic rejection of tyranny — no matter the odds — that we find so stirring in the famous photo of a lone man standing up to a column of tanks. Elsewhere, it inspired hope around the globe when Boris Yeltsin climbed atop a tank in August of 1991 to defend the bid of Russia’s people to sweep away the Soviet hammer and sickle.
America, above all, is home to freedoms that inspire the world (yes, they do, that’s why Hong Kong’s people turn to us). Though it is all too easy amid our daily chores and quarrels to lose sight of that. So I will close with a line that China’s protesters quoted in Tiananmen 30 years ago, one of the most inspiring lines delivered in a dark hour of our own history. This was how President Abraham Lincoln, on Nov. 19, 1863, speaking on a battlefield of our own Civil War, ended his Gettysburg Address. He resolved “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Today, thanks to that intrepid element of the soul that longs for freedom, here we are. That gives me hope.
Claudia Rosett is a foreign policy fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum, and a columnist for PJMedia. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.