A few years ago, the church I currently serve took a trip to Scotland. We traveled to Iona and the Highlands, and also took in the sights in Edinburgh and Saint Andrews. While touring the lovely city of Glasgow, we stumbled upon the stunning Doulton Fountain. This fountain, located on Glasgow Green, features four distinct water carriers labeled Australasia, Canada, India and South Africa, all supporting a larger statue of Queen Victoria. Recently restored, the imagery is stark, sad and very moving. I inquired of our local tour guide what exactly the fountain symbolized and with classic Glaswegian wit, he exclaimed, “Colonization.”
The colonization that he describes, of course, was that of the British Empire, one of the strongest and most resounding empire’s in the history of humankind. But “empire” is not a new term for people of faith. The entire book of Exodus discusses the Hebraic flee from the Egyptian Empire and Pharaoh. Much of the rest of the Hebrew Bible was written by a people who were oppressed by the Babylonian Empire. The majority of the Greek Bible was written by people strongly influenced by the Roman Empire. And the entire modern history of Hong Kong, has developed between the unique backdrops of both the British Empire and the Chinese Empire.
“The Crown Colony of Hong Kong was a product of the First Anglo-Chinese War (1839-1842), popularly known as the Opium War,”  as Britain traded for vast quantities of two main Chinese imports, opium and tea. The British need for safe access and influence was paramount from the earliest days of Hong Kong and throughout her history. Even after the transfer of power in 1997 from Britain to China the influences of empire have been a part of her story.
But as a constant, empires have risen and fallen throughout human history. The phrase Pax Romana initially indicated the peaceful relations between all of the separate nations and local states of the Roman Empire. Subsequent efforts at “peaceful empire” have been attempted and thus named with the phrase Latin phrase pax (which translates “peace”) placed in front of the empire it describes. Pax Britannica was the empirical zeitgeist under which Hong Kong was created. I am currently residing in a country that is, potentially subconsciously, under the influence of Pax Americana. And while all three of these empires have brought the world closer together through trade, common language, and improved communication, so too have we seen unrest among laborers, power struggles, and subsequent empirical crumbling. Often the peaceful concept of pax is experienced by very few of the citizenry.
While organized labor strikes were uncommon in the days of Pax Romana (they were more likely described as “slave revolts” back then) the similarities between the labor demands of Hong Kong workers and United States workers in the 20’s and 30’s are significant.  So too were the struggles of segregation and class status at the commencement of both empires.  The fact that Hong Kong’s history is as peaceful as it is, demonstrates the intelligence and willpower of the people who have resided there.
As stated earlier the Pax Americana concept is the current status quo in the United States, even as we continue years of war after the attacks on September 11. Our American empire influence across the globe is mainly intended to promote peace back in the geographic country of the US, while also claiming to spread democracy across the globe. However recent miscues like the way our country has handled the Hurricane Response in Puerto Rico, or the way we are now engaged with another empire, the one based in Moscow, has me hoping that we can better learn from those empires that have gone before. How can we better care for our labor class? How can we better respect indigenous peoples? How can we remain civil when we disagree? There is much to learn from the rise and fall of empire. May we use the story of Hong Kong as a case study, and learn from those that went before, to improve the lives of those that are yet to come.
 Steve Tsang, A Modern History of Hong Kong (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007), 4.
 Tsang, Hong Kong, 87.
 Tsang, Hong Kong, 65.