Samin Ieong, Freedom isn’t free, C3
I would like to begin with one of my favorite quotes by Mitch Albom. ‘Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.’ In the following 5mins, I would like to affect you, hopefully in a positive way, with a real-life story.
So once upon a time, there was a young man living in a small village far away from the city. His life was not decent at all, because he earned very little and he had to feed his big family. One day finally, a fantastic opportunity knocked his door. Guess what, he got employed by an international business corporation! The salary they offered was simply impressive. Not only he was excited, but also the whole family and the whole village. They supported him and persuaded him to accept the offer.
So, he took the job happily and within years, his life as well as his whole family’s improved significantly. However, it’s universally acknowledged that there’s no free lunch in the world. It doesn’t take very long for the drawbacks to appear. The young man soon realized that he was involved in some sort of immoral issues which didn’t make his family proud. Moreover, the serenity of his home was given up for more income. A lot more people moved in or stayed temporarily in the village assisting him to expand the business, and the leaping population changed a great deal of the original residents’ lifestyle. The man was confused and didn’t know what to do, except providing more money to his beloved family members. But what is broken is hard to fix. Witnessing the horrible change in their living environment, his family became angry. They started to complain, to feel hopeless and to blame the young man for what he had done. As for the younger ones, they simply left the village to seek a better future. None of them tried to think about the possibilities to make things right again. They claimed to feel hopeless, but all of them had completely forgotten that it all actually began with a choice they made together. They had freedom then to make that choice, but it turns out that freedom isn’t free, there’s a cost to pay.
Now I have a confession to make. The story I just told you is not an entirely real version because I made some modification to make it sound more dramatic. The truth is, the young man in the story is not a human, but a city which I was born and raised. Its name is Macau and the family members in the story certainly are referring to all the Macau citizens including me.
Like the young man in the story, Macau has gone through a drastic transformation during the last two decades. I personally have no memory of the old Macau but according to older generation’s description, it used to be a quiet little fishing village. And now, it has become a prosperous city with grand casinos and hotels shining in limelight everywhere. The space is limited, but the number of tourists is stunning, resulting in overcrowded streets, restaurants, and public transportations.
Living in Macau sometimes gives me a feeling of suffocation and annoyance especially after I had waited for a bus for over forty-five minutes and still couldn’t squeeze on one. With fame and wealth, it may be a utopia of gambling or a paradise for tourists, but it just doesn’t seem like a place that can be called home anymore. Not to mention that we are facing terrible inflation, and there is often a lack of transparency in the government’s work. So the citizens, like the family in the story, get pissed off and find things to blame for. It’s always good to have a voice and speak out, and you have given us a great example. But as far as I observe in Macau, it may be more suitable to call most of the criticisms as an emotional wreck. We seldom focus on the issues themselves and tend to ignore the possibilities of solutions and improvements. Instead, we blame irrationally the handover to China, the implementation of the Individual Visit Scheme, and even Chinese tourists. But are these the real causes of the problems? Are these curses going to make a difference? We don’t know and we don’t care. We simply forget that it was a choice we made in the past; a choice that we once approved during the time when our economy was so weak, the law and order fell terribly behind and we could not find a way out. After all, being colonized is not only about having fun and eating Portuguese tarts! While we cannot go back in time and reverse a choice in the past, let alone if we should or not, what we ought to do is be responsible for our choices, because our society don’t have space for any more meaningless regrets and hatred.
The reason I’m sharing this to you is not merely to introduce what’s happening in my hometown. I want you to know that there is no difference whether the role we are taking is a citizen, a friend, a student or a simply life adventurer. It is always easy to regret, complain and say that ‘I am hopeless’; but what it really takes is to be responsible for our decisions. That’s what proves us mature and helps us to be better. Freedom isn’t free. Every choice has a cost. Be responsible for not only the advantages we receive, but also the drawbacks and see if we have a chance to alter them. In the end when everything goes dark , and we close our eyes; we will remember the choices we’ve made, and realize that our choices have made us. TME.
—————- Evaluation by Emma Sie —————-