2019-2020

The other day, I was sharing with someone about a blog post I wrote on Jeremy’s (aka T-Rex) marathon accomplishment. Then it dawned on me that my last blog entry was May 2019! Since it is the end of 2020 now, I would like to recap a bit. As I am writing again, why don’t I leave the easy topics last and work on the tougher one now? No one sets the rules here, except the author 🙂

To call the second half of 2019 ‘interesting’ is an understatement. Who could have guessed that my birthplace, Hong Kong, could be turned into total chaos from June onwards? Without going into excessive detail, I believe most reasonable human beings would had heard of the year-long unrest in Hong Kong which started around early June, 2019.

My family visited Hong Kong a few times during this period for personal reasons – it was one of the most tense experiences we had in the city. We had to pick flights to land there before sunrise and leave at certain times of the day in order to minimise the risk of getting caught in the chaos.

I am not here to pass judgement – doing such job needs to command respect, which is commonly given by a communal system. In my humble opinion, respect is not given but earned. In other words, one can lose respect too. I treasure it greatly.  

It always takes at least two sides to cause a clash. However, from the side line, onlookers can almost never figure out who started the issue nor who was right or wrong. In fact, who cares? The net result matters – in this case, the disruption to the daily routine for millions of people.

In an almost overnight manner, rationality became a rare commodity, or did it? When I look back upon the timeline, things did not happen overnight but rather over years of unresolved issues. This eventually established a sentiment where some freely disagreed steadfastly with many things but with limited proposals of workable alternatives. I saw a perfect formula to get to a dead end and get stuck.

On the other hand, I have observed how another country handled the topic of minimum wage. When a certain salary level was proposed, which had quickly gotten a little emotional, the group swiftly took a step back and asked: ‘What are the facts? What data is there?’ Emotional arguments were quickly steered back to rationality through careful dissection of facts. Among clinicians, we have a name for such behaviour – ‘Evidence based practise’.

Evidence based behaviour simply removes who said what – it is the impartial available data that counts but not:

1.            Experience – experience is very subjective. Back in 1990, a senior colleague told me, “Ansgar, it sounds romantic but experience can be simply a repetition of errors…”

2.            Individual prominence – titles and seniority are not so important. I am not saying this because I defy seniority (I am also moving on with cycles of moon and stars too and within a few years I would be entitled to those special seats on public transport) but it would be silly to seek wisdom based on length of worldly existence (the cemetery has never been known as a place of collective wisdom)

3.            Logic – Logical thinking is important, right? Yes, but only when there is limited data. Cats have four legs but not all things with four legs are cats! Logical thinking requires almost no overhead, while data collection and data analysis are laborious tasks. It commonly takes multiple episodes of data collection and analysis to come with a reasonable conclusion or disconclusion. Over-extension of logic can lead to unproductive conclusions too, also known as ‘analysis paralysis’.

What separates mankind’s civilisation from uncivilised existence, IMHO, is rational behaviour. The super power of homo sapiens is the ability to coexist by give and take among members. 

Life is not fair and we all live in between transitions of compromises. Nowhere is perfect. The real test is – where is? Heaven?

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