Have you asked yourself that very question lately?

The past couple of months have been trying in my life; first, it started with the protests here in Hong Kong, and then Covid19 has hit us with full force. The demonstrations reduced business as fewer parties were organized, and therefore the need for a butler on such occasions has been obsolete. As the months went on and no end to the upheaval was in sight, more and more of my clientele decided to leave Hong Kong, and my customer base began to shrink dramatically.

Then in late January, Covid19 has hit hard in China, and suddenly my life became even more complicated. Since I started my own business here in 2015, giving training in Mainland China has been my primary source of income. Suddenly this business was closed to me as the borders between Hong Kong and Mainland China have been closed.

I do have strong opinions on both topics, but what they are, are not crucial to this topic. However, naturally, I started reading way more newspapers, listened to broadcasts, and engaged in discussions.

Over the past few weeks, I have realized that there is no real dialog. If you follow online discussions, if you read the reader’s comments in newspapers, even if you watch a panel on TV, there is no debate anywhere! If you agree with me, I will pad your shoulder; if you disagree, I will recent to profanity and humiliation.

A fanatical belief has replaced the willingness to listen to other opinions. “If you are not with me, you are my mortal enemy!”

How many times have you heard the words “traitor, terrorist, racist, misogynist, liar, and other demeaning words” heard over the past few months? Granted, there are traitors, terrorists, racists, misogynists, and liars out there, but if you are critical, you will realize that the use of all these words has increased vastly over the past few months. Today it has become a fashion to label someone a racist as soon as that person criticizes a person of another color. If you do not agree on national politics, you become very quickly a traitor or even a terrorist.

When we use these words with people we do not agree with; we diminish the importance of those words, real racists, real traitors or terrorists are suddenly able to hide between millions of wrongly labeled humans.

I believe now more than ever that in these difficult times, we need to listen to one another. We need to be grateful to have discourse and debates. I believe that only if we all work together, humankind will find solutions to everything.

How do we start that? How do we tear down the barriers that prevent us from listening to other opinions?

I think it is simple; just ask yourself:


Thomas Kaufmann
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